6 Practical, Unique Methods to Destress from Work

Written By Idunn Wolfe

Methods to relax.

Are you feeling stressed or anxious at work? You aren’t alone. Around 80% of American workers feel stressed at work. And nearly half say they need help managing stress. Workplace stress has also skyrocketed since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, igniting an employee revolution that seeks to improve the wellbeing and treatment of employees across the nation. While progress for healthier work lives is happening, change won’t happen overnight. In the meantime, stress from work remains at alarming rates and has serious consequences. 

Long-term exposure to stress can result in a variety of health problems. This includes cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal disorders, psychological disorders, and more. But the good news is that there are steps you can take to restore some calm! In honor of National Self-Care Month, here are six methods for some after-work stress relief!

1. Understand yourself and your stress response

Before trying out different self-care and stress relief methods, there’s something to consider. Take the time to understand yourself and what has been triggering your stress. In today’s world, the human brain has the same reaction to stress as our ancestors did. When we’re stressed, hormones like cortisol are released throughout our bodies. Our heart and breathing rates increase, and our blood vessels constrict. And unless you are about to fight off a bear, this physical reaction isn’t very helpful. Instead, it tends to leave you feeling awful.

A good path towards a less stressful life is to keep track of what situations send you into a negative state. Grab a journal or open a Google doc and write out the things that trigger your stress response. Reflect on the following:

  • When is my stress response triggered? Is it throughout the day or on specific days?
  • Who or what is causing the most stress at work?
  • Are there any patterns or similarities between things that cause you to stress out?
  • Do you feel aligned with the culture at your workplace?

Some of the answers to these questions may feel obvious to you. And if you are already certain of the underlying causes for your stress, great! You are ready to move on to the next step. Regardless, tracking your stress levels over time is vital. Knowing your stress factors can help you discover patterns in your life, which makes the problems easier to address.

2. Get to know what works for you and keep track of it

Before we dive into the list of stress relief methods to try, it’s important to know that self-care and stress relief aren’t necessarily the same thing. Facial masks and floral baths might be a common self-care go-to. But that doesn’t mean it will be stress relieving for you!

Every person responds differently, so don’t be discouraged if one of the following methods doesn’t seem to work for you. Write down how you felt during and after trying each stress relief activity. Doing so gives you a consistent record of what helps and what doesn’t. There are also mobile apps that help you track and manage stress levels. A couple of good ones are My Mood Tracker for Apple devices and Mood Tracker Journal for Android. Another thing to keep in mind is to try each method a few times because our needs and desires fluctuate.

3. Take a walk, or get down and boogie

Depending on where you live, going for a stroll might be a great way to reduce your stress levels. If there are any green spaces near you, all the better! Seeing and smelling flora in natural spaces has been proven to reduce stress levels. Any physical activity reduces stress levels by lowering cortisol levels and boosting endorphins. Dance like no one is watching, walk or do some yoga to reset.

4. Breathe deeply

Breathing exercises can help you lower blood pressure and get control over stress.

Here’s how to do a deep breathing exercise:

  • Sit in a space where you feel safe, and try to sit with good posture, with your back straight.
  • Breathe in slowly and deeply, pushing your stomach out so that your diaphragm is put to maximal use.
  • Hold your breath for a few seconds, counting to 4.
  • Exhale slowly for the same amount of time that you breathed in.
  • Repeat five to ten times.

The best thing about deep breathing is that you can do it anywhere, anytime. It can also help you stay in the moment and refocus your mind on what really matters!

To destress, one must find inner peace.

5. Use visualization or meditation to de-stress

Meditation and visualization can help you center yourself and are powerful methods for lowering stress levels. If you are short on time, visualization is a quicker and easier method to find calm.

To use visualization, all you must do is:

  • Find a place to sit or lay down and relax, if possible.
  • Close your eyes and envision yourself in a quiet place where you feel happy and safe. It could be a forest, a beach, or your grandmother’s house. 
  • Use your imagination and memory to hear the breeze, smell the salty water, or the cookies Grandma used to bake. Try to engage all your senses with what you would expect to feel in this place. 
  • Stay there until you feel a spark of joy or a sense of calm.

Meditation is a little more intense but very similar. To meditate, do the following:

  • Find a time and place that is free of distractions and interruption (as much as possible). Low or natural lighting is best.
  • Sit comfortably with good posture or in a body position that allows you to relax and focus.
  • Close your eyes.
  • Breathe slowly and deeply from your diaphragm.
  • Try to let your mind go blank, blocking out thoughts and worries. If your mind starts thinking about life, don’t get frustrated. Gently remind yourself to let it go and return to a blank state of mind.
  • Many people use a mantra, which is a basic word or syllable that you repeat in a rhythmic, chant-like manner.

Meditation can go from 10 minutes to an hour or more, so feel free to customize the practice to your needs. It tends to become more helpful with time, so persistence is key.

6. Eat a healthy snack

Stress-eating can be a very bad habit and one that nearly all of us are guilty of doing. But as it turns out, eating a snack when you are stressed can be helpful, depending on what and how much you eat! You want to focus on snacks that give your body the fuel it needs and that offer benefits like antioxidants and potassium. 

Potassium-rich foods help to protect your cardiovascular system from damage caused by stress. There are many other food components that offer benefits too! For example, the amino acid L-Theanine in green tea reduces anxiety and stress

Whatever foods you choose, opt for unprocessed foods without added sugar or salt. This includes fruits, veggies, and low-fat dairy. For teas, green tea, chamomile, and mint teas are anti-stress powerhouses! Just make sure that whatever herbs are in your tea are okay for you to consume. Avoid negative interactions with any medications you might be taking or that will aggravate medical conditions. (It’s always a good idea to ask your doctor about this before consuming large amounts of any new foods or herbs.)

Go forth and live a less stressful life

These six methods above can help you identify patterns and reset your stress levels. And if you feel that your job is a major source of stress for you, maybe it’s time to join the employee revolution and find a better workplace! Super Purposes™ can help you find a job that you love— and since we spend most of our adult lives working, this is a big deal. You deserve to work somewhere that doesn’t cause you to stress constantly. Feel free to check out our courses here or our other career-development blogs here!

Have a Super Day!