When work gets stressful, you need all the time you can get to unwind and get back in the swing of it. Studies have shown that self-guided relaxation and imagery is useful for improving people’s sense of well-being even during periods of extreme stress. A 15-minute break or a half-hour lunch can seem like too little time to unwind. These five tips will help you make the most of your short break times and get your game face on feeling as relaxed as possible.
Take A Walk Around The Building
If your office has a garden or park area, spending your break time sitting or walking through it can greatly increase your relaxation and your satisfaction with your work environment. Employees with access to a garden have reported higher employer retention rates and were even able to higher better quality personnel. If your office has the space or is thinking about relocating, share this article with your boss to encourage them to consider the benefits having a garden or park can provide.
Change Your Desktop Background
If an outdoor space is not available to you at your office, you can still receive some of the positive benefits of nature simply by changing your background image to a nature scene. Scientists have demonstrated that clearing your brain by focusing on nature can help you relax and re-focus in less than five minutes. Find a great nature picture that you love, and when you need help relaxing and focusing, simply clear your screen and focus on the nature image for a few minutes. Here’s one to get you started.
See, you feel better already!
Try using nature images as your screensaver so that you automatically experience the boost every time you unlock your computer.
Tense Your Muscles
This sounds counter-intuitive. “Tense my muscles? I thought I was supposed to be relaxing?” It’s true however. Tensing and releasing individual muscle groups is a technique called Progressive Muscle Relaxation Training and it has been demonstrated to provide aid in relaxation. In a nutshell, all you need to do is close your eyes, focus on individual muscle groups, and take turns tensing, then relaxing the muscle groups.
Use of a guided audio or video can increase the effectiveness of this technique according to the study.
Want to take this a little further? If you’re not worried about co-workers asking you what you are doing, incorporating pushing against during the tightening phase changes this from Progressive Muscle Relaxation to Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PMF). You can read more on how to incorporate PMF into neck and shoulder relaxation at Yoga International.
Meditation has been shown by scientists to aid in relaxation and stress relief as well as a slew of other benefits. You can start to gain the benefit of meditation with as little as five to ten minutes – perfect for those short breaks and lunches with time left over. A simple meditation method taught by Bhante Sujatha, a monk from Sri Lanka, is to close your eyes, and repeat this phrase to yourself: “I am well, I am happy, I am peaceful.”
Depending on how much time you have to meditate, he further advises to spend more time, meditating each section of the phrase and what it means to you. You can substitute this phrase for any quote, word, thought, or verse that is meaningful and uplifting to you.
Sell Your Boss On The Benefits Of A Relaxing Work Environment
Studies have shown improvements in employee work behavior and even a decrease in absenteeism when employers provide training and means for employees to be able to relax. Share this article, bring in a book about the benefits of relaxation such as “The Happiness Track” and recommend simple things like adding a comfortable chair conducive for relaxing or meditating in the break room. Bigger office? Think big! Some airports have dedicated relaxation or meditation rooms. Have some outdoor space? A sand pit for drawing in the sand can be both stylish and relaxing.
Remember, our bodies are designed for periods of rest between periods of stress. These five tips will help you take a moment from the stress of work to help your mind unwind, enabling you to power through your day with even greater productivity.