Familiar methods to relieve stress and anxiety are taking a deep breath, talking it out with a friend, or exploring meditation, and yet there are additional uncommon or creative ways to take the edge off a dreadful day — ideas that are not as widely voiced.
To follow are seven unique strategies to consider when it’s not quiet enough to meditate, or roomy enough to take a yoga break, and a situation is just so anxiety-producing that it gets difficult to calm the stomach or quiet down thoughts.
Each of the following creative stress-relief ideas are paired with a companion song, to possibly have at the ready on the closest available mp3 music player.
In addition, the experts’ advice is to drink copious amounts of water when coping with anxiety.
“Drink plenty of water,” wrote Craig N. Sawchuk, Ph.D., L.P. on MayoClinic.org. “Even mild dehydration can affect your mood.”
One: A mini-change of scenery
Sometimes stress buildup can become associated with a specific place — perhaps your workstation.
If an office employee is permitted to bring a laptop with him or her to work in an atrium, unused reception area, conference room, office library area, or lounge for an hour or two, the new atmosphere may break the cycle of tension before returning to the regular workstation. A staff member might let his or her team know they are still available by cell phone.
What about swapping workstations with a friendly co-worker for an hour now and then?
The matching song for an mp3 player and earphones will take one away from the scene of the stress.
“The Hammock Song,” by Makana, on the album Ki Ho’alu.
Two: Change up lighting, or try a battery-powered candle
In the first part of the movie “Joe Versus the Volcano,” Joe Banks winces when the fluorescent light above flickers green, and crackles with a weird hum. He has a small desk lamp that glows warm colors and plays a gentle song.
His idea might be worth a try. A desk lamp equipped with a soft white light LED bulb paired with a floor lamp could generate enough lighting to allow turning off overhead lighting, while still saving electricity.
If these lighting choices aren’t available, small battery-powered “candles” can be purchased and fit into a small space, providing a softer lightscape.
The matching song for this stress-reducing strategy will help replace the environment represented by fake lighting with a more natural atmosphere.
“Wind River,” by Andrew Vasquez, on the album A Native American Odyssey Inuit to Inca.
Three: Interior walks with unique paths
Walking does more than get the blood circulating — it is an expression of choice in a situation where it may seem as though there are not as many choices.
Go up one floor at the nearest staircase and through the building. Then proceed down the stairs on your way to the mailroom or other needed stop.
Plan your path to go by the nice person you’ve briefly met and always smiles when they say “Hi, how you doin’.”
Walk between buildings outside, if possible, to get some fresh air.
If your workplace is small, walk to your car to grab a water bottle you “forgot.” Or, perhaps walk to the storeroom to retrieve a needed tool or supply.
The matching song for this easy technique will help get the blood flowing and inspire one to greet friendly co-workers along the way.
“Say What You’re Thinking,” by Katchafire, on the album Say What You’re Thinking.
Four: Aromatherapy, or scented soap
Working in a restaurant or bakery … well, there is natural aromatherapy going on. However, most other workplaces do not offer the scent of barbecue, Margherita pizza, or freshly baked sourdough bread.
Aromatherapy can be used in a small space, or carried with you in a bag, or stowed away in a locker. It can be in the form of a special bar of lime or coconut hand soap, a dab of peppermint essential oil from a small bottle, or a baggie of fresh basil from a discount grocer.
Mists probably won’t work because this affects co-worker’s spaces. Most probably won’t mind a lavender plant on your desk, or a bowl of fresh lemons on the file cabinet. It’s better to keep any scents natural, because some individuals have a sensitivity to colognes.
The matching song, and a bonus selection for this subtle anxiety-relieving measure will calm your spirit.
Vocal: “Far Away,” sung by Libera, on the album Eternal: the best of Libera.
Instrumental: Concierto De Aranjuez – 2. Adagio, by Joaquín Rodrigo, album Sharon Isbin; José Serebrier: New York Philharmonic Orchestra.
Five: Step into the courtyard, fresh air and bird sounds
“Inhaling fresh air helps clear your lungs and enables you to take deeper, longer breaths of air — which increases the amount of oxygen that’s transported to your body’s cells,” wrote Christa Miller, on LiveStrong.com. “Increased oxygen in your body translates to greater energy and clarity of mind.”
Any time a window can be opened, or a few minutes are spent outdoors, the breeze can bring a sense of nature with it. A few minutes of bird sounds are a pleasant change from the steady cavalcade of xerox machine imprints or vacuum cleaners.
If the workplace doesn’t permit an open window or stepping outside during a break, a brisk walk outside before or after work, or during lunch will supply some moving air.
The matching song for a bird sounds break in the courtyard or flower garden is a reminder to connect with nature.
“Pastorale,” by Secret Garden, on the album Songs from A Secret Garden.
Six: Take a class to meet people, or work in groups
Enrolling in or auditing a class related to your career field can have benefits beyond brushing up on skills. Meeting new people expands one’s network and interacting with a separate set of colleagues reaffirms abilities to get along well with others working on projects together.
Your skills are appreciated by course-mates and you can also learn from them in a setting apart from daily work routines. In addition, growing in knowledge reinforces self-esteem.
If other responsibilities make taking a regular in-person class unfeasible, other options are workshops, seminars, online courses, and professional associations and conferences.
The calming song representing expanded connections with others in learning new things is about the topic of friendship.
“Who Can Sail Without the Wind,” by Eriks Ešenvalds, sung by the Trinity College Choir, Ešenvalds: Northern Lights.
Seven: Compile an emailed kudos list
Keeping a written record of kudos and complements establishes a file that can later be read for self-affirmation or used for job evaluations. The comments will help you see forgotten strengths.
Any time an emailed “That was great,” or “Way to go” comes in, the comment, name, and date can be added to a Word doc file, along with additional transcriptions of in-person “Thank yous” and social media “Congrats.” None of the entries into this list need to be long, just positive.
By documenting an even longer list than expected, working people may surprise themselves. Talents are confirmed in a black and white, tangible way. It’s a record of things gone right, and capabilities proven.
If it’s not practical to copy and paste, or type into a document while on the job, a small notebook and good old-fashioned ink on paper will work in a pinch. An additional method is recording it at home while the complement is still fresh in the memory banks, a well-saved treasure.
The matching song, and bonus selection for acknowledging strengths is about validation.
Vocal: “Vincent,” Don McLean, The Best of Don McLean.
Instrumental: “Satin Doll,” by Duke Ellington, The Duke: The Columbia Years (1927-1962).
Every individual can create unique solutions
Not all stress-relief practices work for every individual — we must find our own unique ways. Having more, and uncommon techniques to reduce anxiety will add to a working person’s “de-stress toolbox.”
In addition to the prior creative techniques, there are those who can make the assigned tasks fun. This is also a way to ease stress and enjoy the workday.
Making work fun might include assigning one of the weekdays as “dress-to-the-nines” day, or putting on a costume during the holiday period, lifting spirits of both co-workers and clients. A little swaying to the music or jumping to tunes with young students or fans lightens the mood and peoples’ workloads. A lighthearted joke, or funny story may diffuse tension.
Be good to yourself and others, express gratitude, have fun, be creative, and know that no one can take away one’s education, courage, or calm spirit.