With the demands of work and other priorities, wellness may take a back seat. However, simple mini-exercises and getting a good night’s sleep could be just what you need to reduce stress and clear your mind for a more productive day.
Exercising – An Effective Stress Management Technique
Wellness is very important to us at Society. Many departments have developed short workouts that they do at their desks every day. Try these exercises at your desk to get your blood flowing and muscles toned.
Lower body mini-exercises
- Chair Squats: Stand in front of your chair and repeat the act of sitting down without actually touching the chair. Do ten reps in a set, and try to do two sets per day.
- Leg Lifts: Sitting upright in your desk chair, stretch one leg straight out and hold for 12 seconds. Repeat with the other leg. Do this six times with each leg.
- Clenches: For buns of steel, clench your buttocks and hold for ten seconds. Do five sets of eight reps. The beauty of this exercise is that your supervisors and coworkers won’t see any movement and need not even know that you’re secretly exercising on the job!
- Calf Raises: Give your calf muscles a workout by raising your legs up on the very tips of your toes while remaining seated. Your calf muscles should start to burn after a few seconds. Hold for ten seconds and then repeat eight times.
- Wall Sits: Find the closest sturdy wall (please pick a sturdy one, or this could be a disaster). Place your back against the wall and slide down the wall like you were going to sit in a chair. Slide down until your knees are parallel to the floor. Your knees should make a 90-degree angle. Hold this position for 30 seconds. Stand for 30 seconds and repeat two more times. This may be a little awkward because your coworkers may give you a funny look, but encourage them to join! Maybe you and your team can make this a daily routine!
Upper body mini-exercises
With busy schedules it is easy to become stressed and lose focus on wellness. But doing simple upper body work out and learning to better prioritize and organize can help you relieve stress and feel great.If you’re looking to tone your arms and release some stress, here are some great exercises that can be done at your desk:
- Stapler Curl: While seated or standing, hold a stapler (or full water bottle) in one hand. With palms facing upward, bend your elbow and curl your arm up towards your chest. Pause, and lower the stapler back down. Continue for 12-15 reps, then switch.
- Bicep Pull: Clasp your hands together with one hand’s thumb pointing to the floor and the other pointing to the ceiling. Then pull while resisting the motion from both arms. Hold for 10 seconds or more, and repeat.
- Triceps Dips: Using a sturdy desk or a chair without wheels, sit at the very edge and place your hands on both sides of your body while gripping the chair’s edge. With your feet planted on the floor a step or two away from the desk or chair, straighten your arms to lift up your body. Next, bend your arms to reach a 90-degree angle so that your body dips down, hold, and re-straighten, keeping your body from sitting on the desk or chair. Complete 8-10 reps.
- Triceps Push: While seated in an upright position, bring your palms together in front of your chest and push both hands together until you feel your arm muscles contract. Hold this position for 20 seconds, release and repeat.
Quick Ab mini-exercises
Summer has come to an end and the busy holiday season is just around the corner. It’s easy to become stressed and you may be losing the motivation to keep those summer abs you worked so hard for.Abs can be a difficult muscle group to work and tone, but give these exercises a try right at your desk:
- Seated Bicycle Pedal: Sitting in your chair, scoot to the edge of the seat and support your upper body on the armrests. Then pretend you’re riding a bicycle – bring each knee near the chest while keeping the abdominal muscles contracted.
- Leg Pull-Ins: Sit on the front part of your chair and extend your legs straight out in front of your body. Grab the edges of the chair behind you, lift your legs off the floor and lean back slightly. Pull your knees into your chest as you lean forward, and then extend your legs back out.
- Desk Chair Swivel (if you have a swivel chair): Sit upright with your feet hovering over the floor and hold the edge of your desk with your fingers and thumb. Then use your core to swivel your chair from side to side.
Getting your heart rate up and moving around during the day is important for everyone’s overall wellness, but sometimes you don’t even need to leave your office building to do it.
- Get up from your desk and walk around your building for a few minutes. Try walking the stairs from the lowest level of your building to the top level once or twice.
- Squats are an easy exercise you can do at your desk that will get your heartbeat up and help stretch out your legs.
Exercises aren’t the only way to relieve the anxiety and stress of a busy day. There are a variety of other factors to keep in mind while trying to manage stress.
Organizing Your Day is a Great Way to Reduce Stress
Exercising is a great stress relief, but sometimes it feels like there isn’t even time in the day for these short exercises. If you are feeling overwhelmed with daily activities, here are some tips to help:
- Create a balanced schedule. Analyze your schedule, responsibilities, and daily tasks. All work and no play is a recipe for burnout. Try to find a balance between work and family life, social activities and solitary pursuits, daily responsibilities and downtime.
- Don’t over-commit yourself. Avoid scheduling things back-to-back or trying to fit too much into one day. All too often, we underestimate how long things will take. If you’ve got too much on your plate, distinguish between the ‘shoulds’ and the ‘musts.’ Drop tasks that aren’t truly necessary to the bottom of the list or eliminate them entirely.
- Try to leave earlier in the morning. Even 10-15 minutes can make the difference between frantically rushing to your desk and having time to ease into your day. Don’t add to your stress levels by running late.
- Break projects into small steps. If a large project seems overwhelming, make a step-by-step plan. Focus on one manageable step at a time, rather than taking on everything at once.
- Delegate responsibility. You don’t have to do it all yourself. If other people can take care of the task, why not let them? Let go of the desire to control or oversee every little step. You’ll be letting go of unnecessary stress in the process.
- Change your work schedule. Sometimes it’s not the work that is stressful, it’s the other parts of your life that make getting to work more difficult, such as a long commute or caring for children or elderly parents. Changing your work schedule can be the answer. Some people prefer to work 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., while others do better with a 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. work schedule.
- Telecommuting is another way many workers achieve work/life balance to limit stress. Talk to you employer about flexible scheduling and telecommuting options. When negotiating an alternative schedule or work situation, remember to focus on the benefits you and a new schedule will deliver to your employer, not on your personal goal of stress reduction.
- Get a hobby. All work and no play will not only make you dull, but also anxious and unhappy. Find ways to put a little fun into your life whether it’s taking up a hobby, learning to meditate or spending quality time with friends and family.
Cleaning Up is Proven to Reduce Stress
If you dread spending time at your desk or office, it may not be the work – but the environment – you resent. A clear, clean, organized desk space will encourage you to get quality work done efficiently and without distraction.
- Throw away old memos and outdated messages. Go through everything in your area and get rid of everything that you no longer need. Customers and co-workers expect a smooth professional experience when they visit your workspace.
- Having a cluttered desk or work area adds to your stress level. When you organize your space you will work more efficiently with the items, files and tools that you use most often within easy reach. You will also be able to access the information you need more quickly which will make you appear more efficient and more professional.
Get Enough Sleep
Exercise can help reduce stress and clear your mind so that you can focus more on your work. Stress affects all of us and it is important for us to find ways to manage our stress. Getting enough sleep at night will increase your energy level and your ability to concentrate.If you are sleep-deprived going into your job, you’re setting yourself up for a stressful day.
Make sure you get the required amount of sleep your body needs.
- Everyone’s body is different so the amount of sleep you should get may vary. The recommended amount of sleep per night is 8-10 hours every night. Sleeping that many hours every night may be difficult because of the all the important things you have to fit into your day.
- Try going to bed and waking up at the same time and not drinking a lot of caffeine or alcohol, to help get on the correct sleeping schedule. Also, don’t use the bed for much more than sleep. Avoid eating, watching TV, or reading in bed as these things could only make you hold yourself back from sleeping.
For more information on managing stress at work, check out the Health & Wellness Series brought to you by Society Insurance!