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7 Quick Relaxation Techniques You Can Use at Work

A woman sitting on a desk at work meditating.
Look Studio/Shutterstock

If you implement a few easy ways to manage work stress, you can prevent it from becoming overwhelming or unbearable. We’ve got seven simple relaxation techniques you can try at work any time you need to get your bearings.

Disconnect

Sometimes, you just need to take a step back and get away from your desk. When you completely disconnect from the source of your stress—even if it’s just for a few minutes—it gives your mind and body a chance to relax, slows down your heart rate, and boosts your creativity.

There are lots of things you can do to disconnect. Take a walk outside or sit in the sun for a while. If your body feels stiff, you can do some stretching. Grab a cup of Joe or a quick snack to enjoy while you take in some fresh air.

If it’s raining or cold outside, just look out the window for a bit and let your brain unwind. Allow your daydreams to take over and give your mood a much-needed boost.

Deep Breathing

Chances are, you’re not usually aware of your breathing, given it’s an automatic bodily task we don’t have to “make” happen. However, there’s an extensive body of scientific work out there that highlights the benefits of deep breathing. Yogis know this.

So, focus on your breathing and practice some breathing exercises. This sends more oxygen to your brain, so your mind can find peace, your pulse will slow down, and your body will relax.

There are many different breathing techniques, but to get started, simply inhale to the count of four, and then exhale to the count of four.

This exercise is easy to do at work because it’s inconspicuous, and you don’t even have to leave your desk.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

This is a simple, yet widely effective relaxation technique. It’s meant to combat stress and anxiety by calming the fight-or-flight reflex that’s often triggered by stressful situations. It requires a bit of focus and a comfortable chair (hopefully, your desk chair will suffice).

To release any tension that’s making your body stiff (which you might not even notice if you have chronic tension), it can help to relax every part of your body, and then “reconnect” to it.

Start with your toes; tense them for five seconds, and then relax them. Slowly work your way up to your head, tensing and releasing every muscle group, including your facial muscles.

Your heart rate will slow, and so will your breathing. When you’re done, you should feel less pent-up, more in tune with your body, and ready to face the rest of your workday without pulling out your hair.

Ear Massage

Most people associate relaxation with massage. However, it’s unlikely many people know about the benefits of ear massage. This technique has its origins in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, and it’s been scientifically proven to relieve stress and anxiety in just a few minutes. There are trained professionals who can give you a proper ear massage, but there are some simple tricks you can use to do it yourself.

On the upper third of your ear, there’s a spot known as the Shen Men point, which means “heavenly gate.” This area is where you should focus your massage.

When you massage the Shen Men point in a circular motion, it can relieve stress, headaches, and anxiety, and give you a sense of calm and well-being. You can achieve a similar effect if you massage or gently pull on your earlobes, and then slowly work your way to the upper part of your ear.

This effective technique only takes a few minutes, and you can significantly improve your day without much effort.

Pet a Dog

A group of people at a table in an office watching a coworker pet a dog.
LightField Studios/Shutterstock

It’s a well-known fact that dogs are cute. They’re friendly, soft, playful, and always there to welcome you home with uncontrollable happiness and a wagging tail. Their unconditional love benefits us immensely on a psychological and physiological level. Studies have shown that when people engage in activities with pets, it lowers symptoms of depression. It inhibits the release of stress hormones, lowers blood pressure, and even enhances the number of feel-good hormones in the bloodstream.

Animals can also sense when you feel down or stressed. Basically, they heal your soul.

If there’s a furry office pup around to keep everyone’s spirits up, spend a few minutes with him. Pet and talk to him—they’re great listeners.

Otherwise, check out a dog park if there’s one in the vicinity—you might make some new, furry little friends.

Read or Watch Something Funny

You know the old saying: laughter is the best medicine. And, indeed, numerous studies show we receive many physiological benefits from laughing out loud. It creates anti-inflammatory effects that protect the heart and also releases endorphins that create a more cheerful mood. It can even help you cope with pain by making more of it imperceptible.

So, if you’re feeling stressed out, find something funny to read or watch, or message a friend who always makes you laugh. It can help you de-stress and motivate you to get your work done.

Listen to Music

Music is a highly effective stress management tool. The soothing melody of classical music has a calming effect on our physiology and psychology. And it’s an easy solution to combat stressful moments at any time.

When you listen to slow-paced, soft music, your heart rate slows down, your blood pressure diminishes, and it pushes down your tension levels to a more manageable state.

You can also use music to meditate or distract you from whatever’s causing you hardship. If you don’t enjoy classical music, choose a melody and rhythm that make you feel good and listen to it at work. It will enable you to tune out your current worries and, perhaps, even come up with a clever solution to whatever might be troubling you.


It’s hard to avoid work-related stress. However, if you put your well-being first and take a few minutes to practice some self-care, you’ll be better equipped to deal with whatever comes up.

Carla Cometto Carla Cometto
Carla has been writing professionally for five years and blogging for many more. She's worked as a journalist, photographer, and translator. She's also an avid traveler who hopes to inspire a sense of curiosity and adventure in others through her writing. Read Full Bio »

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