9 Simple Exercises You Can Do At Your Desk When Work Stress Is Getting Too Much

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6 Apr 2017

All you need is 5 minutes to re-set and re-charge. 

You know that lingering nervous, anxious feeling you have when there’s a big work problem hanging over you? Or when you can’t focus on simple tasks because your mind is cloudy from stress? We’ve all been there and it’s hideous.

In today’s break-neck pace, 24-hour digital world, it’s more important than ever to take a few minutes (just a few) to stop looking at Instagram and just be.

We asked the founder of Yoga Wellness Company Jennifer Ellis to help and she’s come up with some super-easy exercises that you can do at your desk when you start to feel overwhelmed.

“Even with a limited amount of time you can create space to bring yourself back into balance,” Jennifer Ellis says. “Manage your stress levels and gain some much-needed perspective after a hard day or a tough week. Use these tips to give yourself a mental and physical stretch and reset.”

So next time your heart starts racing and your mind starts to go fuzzy, try these simple exercises. Also join our discussion about whether anxiety has become “trendy”.

1. Grounding

Sit on front of chair. Feet firmly grounded. Hands on thighs. Practice slow breathing – inhale (note to yourself ‘breathing in’) and exhale (note to yourself ‘breathing out’). Practise with your eyes closed, focusing on slow breaths, clearing your thoughts to just focus on the movement of the breath in all the parts of the body involved.

2. Arm stretch

Sit on chair. Feet shoulder width apart. Sit straight. Feet grounded. Gently engage core muscles. Lift arms to sides and overhead, lengthen the spine, hold and then lower. Repeat.

3. Chest opener

Sit on chair. Plant feet. Hold onto back of chair with hands and elbows bent. Press elbows towards each other – feel the stretch in your shoulders and opening your chest.

4. Backbend

Sit on chair. Plant feet. Interlace fingers behind your back (or hold edge of chair) and raise chest to ceiling, leading with the sternum and gently bending the back. Keep comfort in mind and don’t jam the neck backwards.

5. Leg stretch 1

Sit on front of chair. Place right leg straight in front. Inhale. On exhale reach forward towards foot, hold for a breath round. Gently roll yourself up. Repeat on other side.

6. Leg stretch 2

Face chair. Place hands on chair. Bring left leg forward. To deepen the stretch in the forward leg, widen the stance. Repeat on other side. Bend your knees if your back is rounded and you feel all the stretch in the lower back.

7. Side bend

Sit on chair with feet flat on floor. Reach up with left hand, palm facing inwards, holding onto edge of chair with right hand. Press down on seat with right hand and, with straight back, stretch left hand up and over your head. Hold. Release. Repeat on other side.

8. Chair squat

Stand behind chair. Feet a little wider than hip distance apart. Place hands on top of chair. Look straight ahead, finding a gazing point on the wall or floor. If your balance is ok, bring arms straight out in front, parallel to floor with palms facing each other. Inhaling, bend knees to lower into a squat. To come back to standing, exhale as you push into the heels.

9. Legs up

Take rest. If the neck is uncomfortable place a cushion under the back of the head.

And, if you only have 5 minutes?

1. Take 5 long, slow, deep, diaphragmatic breaths, lengthening and deepening the exhale. Imagine you are exhaling stress and inhaling energy.

2. Stand up and stretch.

3. Spend a moment in contemplation and immerse yourself in a memory of a time when you felt most happy and relaxed.

4. Remember humour is a good way of blowing off steam – however tricky the situation, look for the funny side.

Chair Yoga poses devised by George Watts.

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