7 Easy Ways to Relax on the Job (without Getting Fired)


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  101 comments   :  47,629 Views

Your boss just dropped another project on your desk. Your co-worker spends more time at the water cooler than at his desk. The phone won't stop ringing, your email inbox is so full it's about to burst, and you've got a meeting with a client in an hour.

Yep, you're stressed.

So how can you present your most cool, calm and collected self and accomplish all the tasks you have to do today?

Take a breather, and try a few minutes of yoga.

Most of us can't unroll a yoga mat and drop into down dog at the office, but that doesn't mean we can't take time for a bit of relaxing and energizing stretches. (Note: These poses are also appropriate for people with mobility issues.)

The next time you need to chill out, try some or all of these poses:

Neck rolls

Begin by sitting up straight in a chair.

Gaze up to the ceiling, keeping your neck long. Then bring your left ear down towards your left shoulder and hold. Roll your head down towards the ground and bring your chin to your chest. Hold and finally, roll your head to the right and bring that ear to your right shoulder. Inhale and exhale through the nose in a slow and controlled manner. Repeat twice.

For a deeper stretch, extend the opposite arm down towards the ground and hold. You should be relaxing your neck muscles and using the weight of your head for this stretch. Do not attempt to force your head lower with your neck muscles or your hands. Stop immediately if you feel any discomfort.

Repeat five times on each side, taking long, slow and even breaths through the nose.

Mountain pose

Begin by sitting up straight in a chair.

Roll your shoulder blades back and down, arms relaxed at your sides. Pull your bellybutton in to your spine to engage your abs, and keep your feet flat on the floor, if possible.

Inhale through the nose and raise your arms overhead. Keep your arms shoulder width apart, and relax your shoulders. If you feel your shoulders creep up around your ears, relax them. Keep the belly strong, and gaze in between your hands, to the ceiling. Stay here for five breaths.

Alternative: After raising your arms, interlace your fingers, and press your palms toward the ceiling. Relax your shoulder blades. Remain for five breaths, with your gaze up to your palms.

Cat/cow stretch

Begin by sitting up straight in a chair.

Roll your shoulder blades back and down, arms relaxed at your sides. Pull your bellybutton in to your spine to engage your abs, and keep your feet flat on the floor, if possible.

As you inhale, arch your back and look up toward the ceiling. Lift the chin and allow your arms to relax next to you.

As you exhale, round your spine and let your head drop forward. Tuck the chin and allow your shoulders to roll.

Repeat five times.

Seated forward fold

Begin by sitting up straight in a chair.

Roll your shoulder blades back and down, arms relaxed at your sides. Pull your bellybutton in to your spine to engage your abs, and keep your feet flat on the floor, if possible.

Spread your legs slightly wider than hip's distance apart.

Exhale and round your back, slowly lowering your chest in between your legs. Place your hands flat on the floor (see photo above) or grab opposite elbow with each hand (see photo below). Allow your shoulders to relax and round.

Stay here for five breaths. Inhale and slowly roll up, allowing your head to be the last part of your body to lift. Relax the shoulders back and down.

Eagle arms

This is my favorite arm stretch. It stretches in between the shoulder blades, which is an area that gets really tense if you spend all day on the computer.

Begin by sitting up straight in a chair.

Roll your shoulder blades back and down, arms relaxed at your sides. Pull your bellybutton in to your spine to engage your abs, and keep your feet flat on the floor, if possible.

Begin by extending your arms out in front of you at 90-degree angles. Then place your right arm under your left and press the backs of your palms together. (If your arms and shoulders are tight, you might not to get your arms as close as mine are in the photo. That's OK. You'll still feel this stretch.)

Inhale sit tall, then exhale and tuck your chin to your chest to stretch the back of the neck. Hold the pose for five breaths, then switch arms and stay another five breaths.

Head to chair pose

Sit on the floor in front of your chair with your legs extended in front of you, under the chair. Pull your belly in to your spine to engage your abs and flex your feet to engage your legs. Place your arms on the chair and round your back. (If your chair is open at the back, place your forehead on the chair.) Allow your chin to drop toward your chest and relax your shoulders.

Stay here for five to 10 breaths, then slow roll your chin and chest up.

Forward Fold with a Chair

Begin by standing about an arm's length away from a chair. Your feet should be directly under your hips; your shoulders should be back and down, with your abs engaged. Inhale and reach for the chair, allowing your body to roll down. Bend your knees slightly to prevent locking them, and allow the head to hang. Stay for five breaths, then roll up slowly.

If you liked these poses, you should try:

Have you tried any of these stretches? Do you like them? How do you relax when you get stressed on the job?

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  • 51
    Isn't this perfect!!! Good for an airline flight too. - 1/26/2010   10:25:21 AM
    Good idea to stretch... but I have to wear work clothes, with shoes and socks to work. - 1/26/2010   10:22:06 AM
    These are perfect for those once in awhile crazy days... - 1/26/2010   10:17:13 AM
  • 48
    These will be great for me to do when I'm on one of the many conference calls I have each week - hit the mute button and breath!!! - 1/26/2010   9:55:00 AM
    Thank you I can not wait to try them. These are easy and can do these on my lunch break. - 1/26/2010   9:47:33 AM
  • 46
    thanks for the ideas, but can someone come up with exercises that actually use office furniture. I there isn't a stantionary chair in the office except captain's chairs and wing backs in the boss's office. all the furniture i have at work has wheels. - 1/26/2010   9:44:19 AM
  • 45
    I do some of these already. When I'm really stressed at work (teaching), I take a walk. Not during class, obviously, but during a prep - just a quick walk around school to energize and de-stress. - 1/26/2010   9:36:34 AM
    These are fabulous! And they're helpful whether one has an office job or simply wants to really relax at home - wow! - 1/26/2010   9:31:45 AM
  • 43
    I can totally do the first one. If I do he others, I will attract attention. That first one is great though :). - 1/26/2010   9:16:39 AM
  • 42
    Great stretch reminders! Although some of them might look pretty funny in my cubicle. - 1/26/2010   9:15:46 AM
  • 41
    Thanks for the yoga stretching ideas. I can do almost all of them at work with the exception of the ones where you are on the floor. I work in a call center. Can you imagine what would be my co-workers reactions if all of a sudden I was on the floor exercising. lol - 1/26/2010   9:06:08 AM
  • 40
    Great when working from home, I can do all of these. I do think that sitting on the floor in the office might get me the sack though. Hate my P/T job so will give it a try. Reason for dismissal, yoga on works time while trying to de-stress from all the work that we pile on to her. :) Watch this space LOL - 1/26/2010   9:02:33 AM
  • 39
    Thanks!! I printed this out!!! - 1/26/2010   8:52:27 AM
    Thanks so much for the info. I have not seen these poses before, I'm sure they will be helpful! - 1/26/2010   8:47:28 AM
  • 37
    Great ideas. I don't work, but these would be great at my sewing machine. - 1/26/2010   8:47:09 AM
  • 36
    I feel better already!!!! - 1/26/2010   8:40:24 AM
    Thanks for this info! They really make you feel better! - 1/26/2010   8:23:27 AM
  • PAMD1970
    I'll be doing these! - 1/26/2010   8:04:20 AM
  • 33
    Thank you for posting these-I found them very helpful! - 1/26/2010   8:02:52 AM
  • 32
    These are a nice addition for those that can practice some or all of them.
    I second those that mentioned that a traditional workout is the best way to deal with stress. - 1/26/2010   7:50:25 AM
  • 31
    I have tried a couple of these. Now I have more to try! Thanks for posting these! - 1/26/2010   7:49:31 AM
  • 30
    thanks for the great stretches--they work! - 1/26/2010   7:43:30 AM
  • 29
    I liked the ideas, however, I would have appreciated seeing them carried out by a person dressed in professional attire. It ads just a little more authenticity to the idea of carrying these out at my workplace. ;^) - 1/26/2010   7:35:01 AM
  • 28
    Yes I have tried a few, especially the neck rolls. - 1/26/2010   7:17:15 AM
  • 27
    Wow! Great ideas and right in line with an earlier SP article about the need to move our bodies at least every hour. These I am going to incorporate into my daily routine. Thanks! - 1/26/2010   7:08:39 AM
  • 26
    These are great, with the exception of sitting on the floor! I do that, but I'm surrounded by a group of children....I spend most of my day bending over desks or slowly roaming the room. These stretches would be of great benefit. Thanks a bunch. - 1/26/2010   6:47:22 AM
  • 25
    I am very lucky that I get to go home for lunch everyday. I do a Sparks 10 minute workout or this month the Sparks Bootcamp, which is an awesome stress releaser! - 1/26/2010   6:47:08 AM
  • 24
    These are great, but I wouldn't sit on the floor where I work. I do some but also walk. - 1/26/2010   6:14:47 AM
  • MIARA_
    Walking helps me a lot. You can even use the excuse of needing few minutes without distractions to think about a gnarly problem for a few minutes or buzz off for a 10 "coffee-break". - 1/26/2010   5:46:14 AM
  • SIMONE1402
    great- thanks :) - 1/26/2010   3:54:04 AM
  • 21
    Why are all exercises geared for someone who works in an office???? I work in a factory sure can't use this stuff. - 1/26/2010   3:38:39 AM
  • 20
    Great, I needed the reminder - 1/26/2010   1:23:04 AM
  • 19
    these are great. will definitely put some into practice. will fare better than my stomping away.... i work from home, but I'd still like a better venting process! my poor cat doesn't deserve that kind of energy! - 1/25/2010   11:40:07 PM
  • 18
    Thanks! I love the reminder for these stretches! - 1/25/2010   9:10:43 PM
    Because running from the building like a crazy woman isn't recommended I will try to do a few of these poses during my work day.
    I also look forward to my night work-outs due to stress at the office . . . sweating away the stress and anxiety is great. - 1/25/2010   8:18:49 PM
    Just did some of these at work... Great exercises from my chair, Thanks - 1/25/2010   5:51:11 PM
    I feel better now!! LOL.. although I still feel like I could use a month off from work! - 1/25/2010   4:51:49 PM
  • 14
    Will have to try a few of these exercises- my blood pressure goes sky high some days at work! - 1/25/2010   4:40:11 PM
    Thanks for the suggestions. - 1/25/2010   4:38:37 PM
  • 12
    Perhaps these would also be good for an early morning stretch routine :) - 1/25/2010   3:54:42 PM
    yeah, these are definitely mainly for certain types of jobs :)
    I've done the cat/cow and of course neck rolls but that's about it, and I do those for comfort if my back or neck starts to hurt, doesn't help much with stress. I work at a main desk in full view of people so I don't really do anything intense because I don't want everyone watching me and asking me what I'm doing.

    Some days at my job, the most relaxing thing is when I need to go to the bathroom, cause I can close the door. Unfortunately often that doesn't even work because I have to bring the portable phone with me and answer that if it rings, and then you get clients who spend the whole couple minutes it takes me to pee pounding on the door- and of course it's never an emergency or something that couldn't have waited a couple minutes -_-
    But luckily not all days are like that. - 1/25/2010   3:14:30 PM
  • 10
    I have done some of these stretches at work and at home. I don't think I would do the floor ones at work, though. - 1/25/2010   3:03:21 PM
  • 9
    Great ideas, but what about those that don't have office jobs?
    Before I had to stop working because of cancer, I worked in retail, and was on my feet for 7-8 hours per day. - 1/25/2010   2:46:09 PM
  • 8
    yay! thanks for this! My job is particularly stressful lately! :-) - 1/25/2010   2:46:05 PM
  • 7
    Thank you, just what I need for my stresses at work. - 1/25/2010   2:45:32 PM
  • 6
    This sounds silly but a great yoga stretch which also gets you moving at and AWAKE at work is what ive heard called a "Helicopter" (very sure this is not the typical yoga term) but you stand, feet hip width apart, arms out to the side in a T, and you turn at your torso, hip back and forth. When I took a class we also put a bounce it in to make the stretch deeper. Obviously dont try it without consulting a professional, but it worked better than the cups of coffee i have at work - 1/25/2010   2:32:21 PM
  • 5
    This is really great!!!!! - 1/25/2010   2:25:52 PM
  • 4
    These are great! Once I get my coworkers to stop gaping at me (we all share a large office) I'll feel more comfortable. Now the question is, how do you combat fatigue at work! - 1/25/2010   2:23:09 PM
  • 3
    My way of relaxing at working is on SparkPeople! - 1/25/2010   12:42:10 PM
  • 2
    I've done a few of these before, but never modified to work in your chair. That's a really great idea to relieve stress or just get ready for the day. Thanks! - 1/25/2010   12:39:26 PM

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