Healthy Activities to Combat Workplace Stress
Low salaries, excessive workloads, and few opportunities for growth or advancement are all common sources of workplace stress, especially for women. In fact, 62% of women in the United States report feeling daily stress compared to just 52% of men. Many women take the brunt of child care and home-keeping responsibilities, too, which only makes life more stressful.
Luckily, there are plenty of activities for women to combat workplace stress and maintain a healthier work-life balance.
Crack Open a Book
Whether you enjoy romance novels or autobiographies, cracking open a book can do your mental health some good. Even just six minutes inside a good read can reduce stress levels by 60% and actually slow cognitive decline. Keep books on your desk at work to enjoy during your break or dedicate a few minutes to reading each night before bed.
Take a Hike
If you’re wondering how to relieve work stress as a woman, taking a walk is a great place to start. Explore trails at your local park or take a short hike around the block during your break. Even as little as 20 or 30 minutes can make a difference in your focus and mood. Odds are good you’ll return to work feeling refreshed and much more relaxed than before, which can help you actually enjoy the rest of your day.
Stretch in Your Seat
It might sound a bit strange, but you can reap the same benefits of walking right in your office chair. There are plenty of exercises out there to improve mobility and reduce stress. You don’t even have to break a sweat, either. Just a few toe raises and neck stretches should do the trick. Try closing your eyes to really tap into your body and relieve both mental and physical tension.
Deep breathing exercises may also come in handy during the workday, regardless of what you do for a living. Taking deeper inhales and exhales increases the supply of oxygen to your brain and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system to promote calmness. It can also bring awareness to the physical body and away from the worries in your mind. Remember to breathe into your belly, not your shoulders, to maximize lung capacity and take even deeper breaths.
Practice Guided Imagery
When you feel yourself start to get triggered, try practicing guided imagery. This focused relaxation technique is a lot like meditation. In guided imagery, you intentionally imagine yourself in a peaceful place or scenario. Ideally, your body will align with your thoughts and release tension. By calming your mind and body, you may be able to cope with all sorts of stressors, both at home and at work.
Try Progressive Muscle Relaxation
If you can’t seem to concentrate long enough to benefit from guided imagery, try progressive muscle relaxation. This practice involves consciously relaxing all the muscles in your body, group by group.
Begin at your toes or the top of your head and work your way up or down, accordingly. Tighten and relax each muscle group until your entire body is at peace and free of tension. This activity is most effective when you have a few minutes to close your eyes and fully commit to it.
Some things never change, and essential oil is one of them. Relieve stress with tried-and-true lavender, chamomile, and lemongrass oils. Promote alertness with peppermint and even alleviate depression with damask rose.
A 2017 study also identified bergamot as being highly effective for reducing stress through aromatherapy. Female participants reported 17% higher levels of positivity after just 15 minutes of exposure. Keep a diffuser on your desk to reap the same benefits all day long.
Prioritizing Mental Health at Work
Learning how to combat workplace stress starts with prioritizing mental health – both on and off the clock. You deserve to relax, relieve tension, and enjoy a few peaceful moments, regardless of how busy you are. Take the initiative by incorporating some of the activities above into your daily routine. The more consistently you engage with them, the more stress relief you’ll experience.