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Stress and anxiety are all too common occurrences in workplaces, but their severity can be alleviated through mindfulness activities.

There are a number of activities that workers can do to reduce the severity of any stress and anxiety, and help to build emotional resilience. Employers should take the lead and recommend workers try mindfulness activities as they offer a range of social and economic benefits. The more workers adopt mindfulness in the office, the less self conscious people will feel about taking time out to do the activities.

#1 Breathing

One of the most simple activities can have the biggest impact in times of intense stress. When stressed, it’s normal to do shallow, upper chest breathing. Breathing using the diaphragm helps to control the nervous system and encourages the body to relax. Deep breathing is also a good coping mechanism for when workers feel anxious.

How to Do the 4-7-8 Breathing Technique

Inhale through your nose on a count of four with your lips closed. Hold your breath for seven seconds, then exhale completely through your mouth while making a whooshing sound for a count of eight.

#2 Single Activities 

When work is busy, workers fall into the habit of trying to do multiple tasks at once. They feel it’s the only way to keep on top of everything but unfortunately, it rarely works that way. When juggling a list of tasks, workers are more likely to feel stressed and can’t finish a task completely or to their satisfaction. The list gets longer and the worker rarely has that sense of accomplishment of finishing one task and moving on to the next with a clear head.

Remind staff regularly that multi-tasking isn’t the right approach when they’re feeling stressed or anxious. Stop and decide which task is most urgent and most important then forget the rest while you work that task.

How to Stop Multitasking

At the start of your day (or the end of your previous work day), put together a plan. Decide which activities are most urgent and important and decide how long each task will take, before making a note in your diary. Put on some noise cancelling headphones, turn off notifications on your computer and get to work. Cross off each task as you complete it then concentrate solely on the next task.

#3 Taking Breaks

Busy workers think they’ll achieve far more in their workday if they reduce the length or number of breaks throughout the day. However, staff need reminding that they won’t be working at their optimum either mentally or physically if they don’t give themselves regular breaks.

Taking time away from the workstation is like a reset for the body and mind. A break can allow a worker to see a problem in a different light and possibly find a solution. Being away from the desk often equates to hitting reset on stress levels, to make for a calmer day.

How to Take a Break

If you’re feeling stressed or anxious, the best type of break you can have is to leave the office for some fresh air. Walk around the block, or up and down a few flights of stairs to get the circulation going. If you’re in need of some energy, nibble on healthy foods like fruit, nuts or veggie sticks.

#4 Office Exercise 

If you aren’t due to take a break away from your desk or the weather outside is awful, try a little desk exercise to improve your circulation and reset your stress levels. Remember to concentrate on your breathing while you do your deskercise routine. Some simple stretches you can do at your desk include:

Shoulder Shrugs

One of the telltale signs you’re stressed is tight or aching shoulder and neck muscles. Relieve the tension in your neck and shoulders with a few shoulder shrugs. Raise your shoulders up towards your ears and hold for a few seconds before releasing. Repeat a few times until you feel the tension is gone.

Neck Rolls

Place your chin close to your chest and gently roll your head from one shoulder to the other. 

Calf Stretch

While seated, stretch one leg out in front of you and lift your toes toward you while bending your ankle. Hold the stretch for three seconds then lower your foot back on the floor. Either repeat 10 times before swapping legs or alternate between each leg.

Workplace Wellbeing Packages

Altius Group offers a range of workplace wellbeing packages, designed by our team of allied health professionals, that are evidence-based, innovative and results orientated. For more information about the modules and platforms you can access through Altius Group to help alleviate some of the stress and anxiety your employees may be feeling in the workplace, read more about our Workplace Wellbeing Programs, call 1800 258 487 or contact us online. or get in contact online.