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9 Stress Busting Exercises

Written by Jennifer Strailey

It's stressful out there, and not just for those who have lost their jobs.

Those who stay on face a different set of stresses with difficult bosses, unsatisfying work or too much work.
 
 
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If your blood pressure bolts just thinking about work, try these nine ways to chill out at the office:

1. Give yourself a fighting chance. If your commute is as harried as your workday, start your stress fighting before you get to the office. Try varying your route to work and listening to language tapes or books on tape so driving isn't drudgery.

 

2. Practice better breathing. Breathe a sigh of relief every time you feel tension mounting. Here's how: Slow down overall respiration; increase the fullness of each breath, especially the exhaling breath; and relax the muscles of the chest, back and diaphragm.

 

3. Get organized. If you can't control the economy at least you can control clutter. Get your desk and files in order. Prioritize projects. Then vow to do less, but do it better.

 

4. De-stress every hour. Do this 60-second routine every 60 minutes: Rotate your head. Repeat. Twist your trunk in your chair. Repeat. Roll your shoulders in a circle. Repeat. Straighten your legs under your desk, pointing your toes forward and back. Repeat. Standing, rise onto the balls of your feet and reach your hands toward the ceiling. Come back down. Repeat.

 

5. Meditate over e-mail. It's hard to stay calm when you receive hundreds of e-mails a day. Darrin Zeer, author of Office Yoga: Simple Stretches for Busy People, suggests meditating while you wait for those messages to download. Breathe slowly and focus your attention on your breath. Make the out-breath two times longer than the in-breath.

 

6. Laugh for pleasure. Even if there's nothing funny about your workday, make time to laugh and you make time for pleasure, says Stella Resnick, Ph.D., author of The Pleasure Zone. Start with gentle breathing and work your way up to a strong belly laugh. Do it for 10 minutes.

 

7. Control your anger. Tough times can turn us into angry people. But each time your temper flares, you increase your stress level. Manage your rage by planning ahead. Think about what sets you off at work. Then give yourself specific instructions for handling those moments of anger when they arise.

 

8. Take a hike before you hit the road. You'll be more likely to take your stress home from the office if you go straight from work into your commute. Take a 20-minute brisk walk each night before heading home.

 

9. If all else fails, play hooky. Sometimes the only cure for work stress is a day off. Play hooky and, if you must, take your cell phone with you. Place calls once an hour for five minutes. Play the other 55 minutes.

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