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Matt Henkes



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Office de-stressing exercises


When suffering from stress at work, tension can accumulate in the most vulnerable areas of the body such as the upper back, shoulders, neck and head, leading to an uncomfortable range of physiological grumbles, aches and pains.

While gin or even a bit of shouting can both often be effective cathartic techniques, they are not advisable in a work setting. Luckily, the Stress Management Society has come up with a quick, handy series of de-stressing exercises that you can do while sitting at your desk. They’re supposed to help "release tension, reduce stress and renew the body’s energy to carry on working effectively".

We need your feedback on them; try them out and give each one a score out of 10 for its ability to induce Zen-like levels of calm. You can even post a video of yourself or a colleague giving them a go so we can all judge whether they’re too silly for use in a public setting.

Do you have any different techniques for dealing with work-based stress? Leave your stress busting ideas in the comment box below this article and we’ll video a member of the office team trying the best ones out.

So here we go; are you sitting comfortably with your back supported against the back of your chair? Plant your feet firmly on the ground and make sure your hands and arms are open and relaxed.

  • With a deep breath in, raise the shoulders towards the ears and hold them raised for a few seconds (you will be able to feel the tension that may be accumulating in the shoulders), now take a long slow breath out and drop the shoulders down. Repeat this several times.
  • Place your left hand on your right shoulder and squeeze gently and then release. Repeat down the right arm to the elbow. Repeat several times. Now place your right hand on your left shoulder and repeat the exercise.
  • Place your hands over your shoulders. As you exhale let your head fall backwards and slowly draw your fingers over the collarbones. Repeat several times.
  • Place your hands over the top of your head and gently pull your head gently downwards; feel the stretch. Hold for several seconds and then repeat.
  • Place the fingers of both hands at the base of your skull; apply slow circular pressures from the base of the skull to the base of the neck.
  • Exhale and turn the head to the right side. Use the right hand to massage the right side of the neck from behind the eye down to the collarbone. Repeat to the other side.
  • Now close your eyes and relax the muscle of the face, be aware of your eye muscles, your jaw and your forehead. Place the fingers of both hands on each side of the temples and slowly massage in circular motion. Repeat several times.
  • Place the fingertips of both hands in the centre of the forehead and perform slow circular movements with both hands working out towards the temples. Repeat several times.
  • Finish by cupping your hands over your eyes and holding for several seconds. This helps to release tension and tightness in the face.

The Stress Management Society advises that these exercises should be done as soon as you feel tense or stressed to avoid the tension building up. If you haven’t got a spare five minutes, you can always do them individually. Just make sure you don’t fall asleep and forget to let us know how you get on.

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Matt Henkes


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