Stress is a constant companion for many people at work. It can have a significant effect on our health and productivity, so it is important to learn how to control it.

The symptoms of stress can vary a great deal, but some of the more common ones include things lik indecisiveness, headaches, fatigue, irritability, problem concentrating, procrastination, indigestion, aches and pains, and insomnia.

If you are having any of these symptoms, you need to be aware of the circumstances under which they occur because they could be signs of heightened stress

Here are a few simple exercises you can do to handle stress right at your desk.

1. Breathing from your diaphragm.

When you’re feeling stressed, your breathing is focused on your upper chest, and it has a more rapid rising and falling action that increases anxiety. To help relieve the tension, relax your chest and move your breathing into your lower abdomen when you breathe in. When you breathe out, move your abdomen in and your diaphragm up towards your chest.

2. A relaxation response

This exercise involves both breathing and mindfulness to help relieve tension. Focus your attention on your breath while continuing to breathe naturally. If your mind wanders, bring your attention back to your breathing again. Your only focus should be on your breathing. If there are any other stray thoughts, push them from your mind and refocus on your breathing again. Do this for several minutes.

3. Scan your body

This is another exercise in mindfulness. Sit erect in a chair with your hands on your knees. Focus your attention first on your feet and the sensations you are feeling in your feet. Can you feel the floor or your clothing, for example?

Do the same thing for each body part– calves, thighs, pelvis, back, chest, hands, arms, shoulders, and head. Give your complete attention to a particular body part and the sensations you are feeling there.

4. Muscle tension

Again, sit erect in a chair with your hands on your knees and your feet flat on the floor. As you inhale, tense the muscles in your face for about 5 seconds. Then as you exhale, relax the muscles, noticing the sensation that this produces.

Do this with each body part, as with the previous exercise, tensing and relaxing each muscle group for several seconds as you breathe in and out, focusing your attention only on those particular muscles and how they feel.

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