Relaxation - office

Types of relaxation

Using imagery

This involves using your imagination to think of a scene that has a calming effect on your mood, such as the memory of a holiday. It may not be practical to close your eyes in the office, but do so if you can for a few seconds and focus on the image. You can choose anything, maybe a deserted beach, lush green forest or even just a building or room you feel comfortable in.

Muscle relaxation

Job stress can cause tense muscles without us realising until it’s too late. You can incorporate some muscle relaxing exercises into the mini breaks you should take at work. You should find that if you feel physically relaxed, your mind also relaxes.

As you’re doing these exercises, it can help to squeeze and then release each of your major muscles – starting from your feet up to your head – and imagine the tension flowing out of your body.

Concentrate on your breathing – slow, even breaths help you relax.

Stretching

Doing some simple stretches at your desk can relax your body. Try the following.

  • Neck glide. Sit or stand up straight, glide your head back as far as it will go. Keep your head and ears level. Now glide your head forward. Repeat three times.
  • Shoulder shrugs and circles. Sit or stand up straight, bring your shoulders up towards your ears. Hold for a count of three seconds. Relax and repeat twice. Sit or stand up straight, circle your shoulders backwards three times, with your arms relaxed by your sides.
  • Upper back stretches. Cross your arms and raise your hands so that they rest on the front of your shoulders. Now use your arms to push your shoulders back keeping your elbows down. Hold for 15 seconds and then repeat three times.

If you don’t have time to do stretches or relaxation exercises, making some simple changes to the way you work could help you create a more relaxing environment.

  • Turn off your email for an hour each day, and the phone if possible, to minimise distractions and interruptions.
  • If you’re struggling to focus on a particular task, listen to some music on your headphones to keep out the noise of a busy office.

Make use of your lunch break to relax in the park on sunny days, or find a quiet spot to read a book. Meet a friend or go out with your work colleagues for lunch to switch off from work to refresh you for the afternoon.

If you have an on-site gym, look into whether they do any exercise classes such as box circuits or have a running club. Not only could these help you to work off any stress, and change your focus and concentration, they will also increase your fitness.

Relaxation techniques

Video transcript

Learning to relax can help you stay calm in a number of ways. It can help with the symptoms of stress, anxiety and also during difficult times it can give you a technique where you can just help yourself relax a little bit more.

Raise your arms up above your head and stretch out your body. Then let your shoulders and arms relax into a comfortable position. Shrugging, wriggling and shaking all help your muscles to stop tensing and relax. Let go of the tension in your feet, ankles, calves, knees, thighs, chest, arms and neck. Allow yourself to feel as if the chair is supporting your whole weight. Feel yourself letting go.

Loosen your jaw and face. A bland expression will help your face muscles to relax. Focus on your breathing, feel its rhythm, its depth and its speed. Put one hand on the upper part of your chest and the other just below your ribs on your abdomen. Slowly exhale. Gently breathe in so that you can feel your abdomen rising under your hand. Exhale for a little longer this time feeling your abdomen fall under your hand. Pause for a few moments, and then inhale again. Repeat, keeping your breathing deep and regular. Close your eyes and imagine a peaceful scene, perhaps a hot sandy desert island or a cool lush green forest, or somewhere where you have been and found it quite relaxing.

Try to practise relaxation techniques as often as you can, they only take 10 minutes.

You'll know that you’re following the technique correctly if the hand on your abdomen moves up and down but the hand on your chest remains still.

If you find it difficult to focus on the deep breathing exercise or uncomfortable, then please don’t use it.

This video is intended for general information only. It shows an example of one person’s experience. Your circumstances may be different so not everything may apply to you. It does not replace the need for personal advice from a medical practitioner.

Deep breathing exercises

Video transcript

The way you breathe can affect the way you feel. Through deep breathing techniques this can help you keep calm during difficult or stressful situations.

Sit on a chair or lie down on your back. Get yourself in a comfortable position, loosening your clothing if necessary. Focus on your breathing - feel its rhythm, depth and speed. Put one hand on the upper part of your chest and the other just below your ribs on your abdomen. Slowly exhale. Gently breathe in so that you can feel your abdomen rising under your hand. Exhale for a little longer this time. Feel your abdomen fall under your hand. Pause for a few moments, and then inhale again. Repeat the process.

You'll know that you're following the technique correctly if the hand on your abdomen moves up and down but the hand on your chest remains still.

Not everybody is happy using a deep breathing technique. If you find difficulty focusing in on your breathing, then please stop the exercise.