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Need a Breather? 5 Ways to De-Stress at Work

By Allison Bonner | April 25, 2014 | Health Conditions

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Workday pressure is everywhere. Some days you may feel like you have everything under control, but then the stress of meetings and deadlines starts to creep in. Many of us spend a good portion of our days at work, so it’s essential to know how to manage that stress in order to maintain the energy for everything else.

But help is on the way. Try these tips from our health coach about how to de-stress at work, to show stress who’s boss.

  1. Put your day on pause.

    Take 2 minutes in the morning, in middle of the day, or at the end of the day, to be quiet and check in with yourself. If you start out your day sprinting out of the gate, you may never slow down long enough to find your balance. Research shows if you can “pause” during the day, you can reset your thoughts and reconnect with yourself. You can ask yourself questions like, “How am I doing?”, “How do I want my day to end?”, “What can I do today to feel like I have balance?” If you want to take it up a notch, you can try this easy breathing technique at your desk called the Quick Coherence Technique at any time. It’s been shown to lower blood pressure, calm heart rates and ease tension in your body. It’s a win win!

  2. Manage your time.

    Do tasks in the order of their importance. Clear your desk with the exception of the current task. Learn to organize, delegate and communicate your needs to your supervisor and team. Work to solve problems immediately; don’t just let them hang over you. When you have all the information to make a decision, make it, but try not to assume anything beforehand. A person who can manage their time will experience less stress. Yes, there may be some unplanned things that might pop up in your day, but a consistent structure will help you to manage those bumps. Plus, a well-managed day makes room for renewable activities, like physical activity and relaxing lunches. Who doesn’t love those?

  3. Schedule a break!

    Sometimes this might seem impossible when you look at the amount of work you feel you have to do in one day. But, if you can see a break as a chance to be more productive, you’ll be more likely to give yourself time for a breather. The latest brain scan technology has shown us that 90 minutes of sitting at a desk without moving causes your biological systems to deteriorate, meaning  your heart rate becomes irregular, your oxygen consumption slows down, your brain waves become erratic. Do any of those sound like good things to you? Getting up from your desk for just 5-10 minutes and moving around can bring your systems back to normal,  so you can find your way out of the ‘mental fog’. When you feel more productive, you are less stressed!

  4. Create a soothing work space.

    Place pictures of your favorite vacation spot on your desk and escape for a few moments into the picture when you feel tension building.  Or put up a picture of family to remind yourself of why you work as hard as you do. Post empowering quotes or humorous pictures to remind yourself to laugh a little more each day. A good belly laugh can be a great way to relieve tension. Anyone know any good jokes?

  5. Have meaningful connections. 

    Creating a circle of truly supportive friends, co-workers, and family can help keep you motivated and encouraged. Develop healthy relationships that allow you to be your best self and avoid toxic people as much as possible. When you experience this level of support, you won’t feel like you have to figure things out by yourself, and your stress levels will diminish. Remember, you don’t have to go it alone. It’s always better to use the buddy system.

We all experience stress at some point in our lives, but following these tips will help you not sweat the small stuff. April is National Stress Awareness Month, so this is a great time to focus on adding even just one of these healthy stress less activities to your day. That’s something that you can carry through all year long.


Lani Kee Williams, On-site Wellness Coach: Lani works at the Employee Health Clinic at BCBSNC (April 2009 to present). She is currently providing health and wellness coaching between the Durham and Winston-Salem offices. She has coached over 3000 employees and she also presents by request to various teams and employee groups. She works to help you achieve your goals in all areas of wellness such as physical activity, weight management, blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes management, but admits that most of her sessions focus on stress, resilience, and relaxation.

She obtained her Masters in Health Promotions from Nebraska Methodist College in Omaha, Nebraska and her Bachelors in Human Resources from Concordia University in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She is a certified Wellcoaches® Wellness Coach and has held numerous certifications in health and wellness over the past 35 years in healthcare, government, automotive and private industries.