According to a survey commissioned by the Australian Psychological Society, three in four Australians say workplace stress affects their health. Managing stress in the workplace is an essential part of staying healthy, and some Australians are turning to nontraditional ways to relieve stress. Here are some unconventional - but research-backed - ways to relax at work.
According to neuropsychologist Stan Rodski, the act of colouring can change brain behaviour and help achieve calm and balance. He has developed a colouring book for adults which has been adopted by companies such as ANZ and Wesfarmers. Rodski says that colouring helps the brain switch from beta to alpha brain wave frequencies. Beta frequencies are associated with physical or mental stress, whereas the latter are more restful and positive. By allowing you to focus on a singular, mindful, creative activity, colouring helps you feel relaxed and cope with distractions.
The University of Maryland Medical Center has found that smells can have a significant impact on our physical, emotional, and mental health. The scent receptors in our noses communicate with the parts of our brain that store emotions and memories, meaning that we come to associate memories and emotions with smells. Lavender and rosemary in particular have been found to decrease levels of cortisol in the brain, helping to reduce stress. Consider purchasing a candle with a relaxing scent or purchasing some essential oils to help you keep calm at your desk.
A Cup of Tea
Drinking tea has traditionally been associated with stress relief, and as of 2009 there is research to back this up. A single cup of tea can significantly reduce anxiety levels after a stressful experience, according to a study from City University London. Given that regular tea drinking is also associated with lower risk for cancer and heart disease, putting the kettle on is a good idea when you want to relax. Try lavender, chamomile, green, or black tea for a particularly calming effect.
Having potted plants on your desk can reduce fatigue, headaches, and stress, according to environmental psychology expert Tina Bringslimark. According to Bringslimark, people believe plants are healthy and are likely to see themselves as healthier when they keep plants around - this is especially true for those who do not have a window in their office. Bromeliads, peace lilies, and walking irises are all great choices for desk plants, and can be easily found in many local nurseries.
Smiling and Laughing
Research from the University of Kansas shows that smiling helps lower your heart rate when you’re feeling stressed, reducing the negative impact stress may have on your health. Laughter serves as a great form of stress relief, as it increases your oxygen intake, activates and relieves your stress response, and relieves muscle tension. Even when it feels like there’s nothing to smile about at work, try putting a smile on your face and you may come to understand where the expression “grin and bear it” comes from.
Hugging a loved one can help ease stress and anxiety, according to research from the Medical University of Vienna. A hug can lead to a boost in oxytocin, a hormone which has been linked to social bonding and happiness. Kissing has also been shown to affect oxytocin and cortisol levels, reducing stress and increasing happiness. We’ve already discussed how sex can positively impact your mind, body, and career, but an embrace or kiss can have similar effects.
Some of these methods may seem simple, or even a little strange, but it’s beneficial to seek out unconventional ways to relax which will lead to greater health, creativity, and productivity.