All work and no play makes for a stressed-out office worker. Without a break, stress builds; tensions mount. Add a tincture of a heated deadline, and you have the perfect concoction for a worker on the brink of a stress-induced injury or illness.
Before stress squeezes you in and presses you down, take a vacation. But don’t rush out and contact your travel agent. That’ll merely add a new dimension of stress. Instead, do something novel—and healthy. Take a mini-vacation right where you are . . . in the comfort of your office chair!
In the absence of strategies to ward off stress at work, productivity, atmosphere, and workers suffer. Missed deadlines. Shorter tempers. Stronger headaches.
And according to recent caution from the American Medical Association stress accounts for at least 80% of medical illnesses while also setting the stage for early death. This stress stuff is dangerous!
Dealing with workplace stress doesn’t have to necessitate big—or expensive—changes. Rather, simple strategies sprinkled thoughtfully throughout your day can help keep work stress at arm’s length. And you won’t have to fly to the tropics to reap the benefits.
Read on to learn how to plan, implement, and enjoy the fruits of your much-needed mini-vacation.
Introducing the 20/20 rule, a simple—yet scientific—way to foster workplace tranquility. The idea is to stop what you’re doing every 20 minutes, and take a mere 20 seconds to visualize, breathe, and move. And when possible, take a couple minutes each hour to get up, get a drink, do some additional stretches, or perhaps bug a co-worker.
No question. The human body is made to move. Staying too long even in good posture can be harmful to your mind and body. Getting stuck in one position, such as sitting with starry eyes glued to your computer screen, produces fatigue. Fatigue often leads to discomfort, which eventually escalates into pain. The key is to upset this continuum by halting fatigue . . . before it occurs.
Taking a mini-vacation can help. And you can do it in the comfort of your office chair using the 20/20 rule. Doing so gets you moving, improves relaxation, and diminishes fatigue, ensuring you stay alert and productive, while also improving your work quality and work safety.
Here’s how. Incorporate some of the activities listed here during your mini-vacations.
Close your eyes. Pull your imaginary straw hat over your eyes. Lean back in your make-believe hammock. Now visualize yourself in a relaxed state on the sands of your favorite beach.
Slow your breathing rhythm. With your hands placed over your lower rib cage, feel your abdomen rise and fall with each tranquil breath.
Get moving! Doing so gets helps get you energized. Practice one or more of the following movements during your mini-vacations.
- Neck turns: Gently turn your neck from one direction to the other feeling a gentle stretch as you rotate your head back and forth.
- Neck nodding: Gently move your head up and down as though nodding. You should feel a gentle stretch as you move your head fully, yet comfortably, up and then down.
- Shoulder shrugs: Shrug your shoulders fully upward and then fully downward.
- Shoulder rolls: Attempt to roll your shoulders fully forward and then fully backward.
- Upper chest stretch: Place your hands low behind your neck. With your elbows bent and your hands supporting your neck, gently pull your elbows backward so that you feel a stretch in the front part of your shoulders and chest.
- Chest rotations: Cross your arms, and then fully rotate your upper body first to the left and then to the right.
- Wrist stretch: Place the palms of your hands together in the “prayer” position keeping the base of your hands connected. Next, gently lift your elbows outward such that you begin to feel a stretch along the front of your wrists.
Finding strategies that keep work stress and tension at bay is vital to your comfort and health. If stress and tension continue to take a toll on your body and mind, talk with your healthcare provider for additional ideas.
I also invite you to gather additional information to help you manage your body, mind, and health by contacting Alpine Physical Therapy (251-2323 or 541-2606), by perusing our information-rich website at AlpinePTmissoula.com, and by routinely visiting us here on our blog.
Brent Dodge physical therapist and owner of Alpine Physical Therapy is a board certified orthopedic clinical specialist with keen interests in pain- and tension-reducing technologies, particularly as they relate to helping people at work. You are invited to email him at info@AlpinePTmissoula.com.