5 Ways To Relax More At Work

5 Ways To Relax More At Work

When work gets stressful, you need all the time you can get to unwind and get back in the swing of it. Studies have shown that self-guided relaxation and imagery is useful for improving people’s sense of well-being even during periods of extreme stress. A 15-minute break or a half-hour lunch can seem like too little time to unwind. These five tips will help you make the most of your short break times and get your game face on feeling as relaxed as possible.

 Take A Walk Around The Building

If your office has a garden or park area, spending your break time sitting or walking through it can greatly increase your relaxation and your satisfaction with your work environment. Employees with access to a garden have reported higher employer retention rates and were even able to higher better quality personnel. If your office has the space or is thinking about relocating, share this article with your boss to encourage them to consider the benefits having a garden or park can provide.

Change Your Desktop Background

If an outdoor space is not available to you at your office, you can still receive some of the positive benefits of nature simply by changing your background image to a nature scene. Scientists have demonstrated that clearing your brain by focusing on nature can help you relax and re-focus in less than five minutes. Find a great nature picture that you love, and when you need help relaxing and focusing, simply clear your screen and focus on the nature image for a few minutes.  Here’s one to get you started.



    See, you feel better already!

    Try using nature images as your screensaver so that you automatically experience the boost every time you unlock your computer.


    Tense Your Muscles

    This sounds counter-intuitive. “Tense my muscles? I thought I was supposed to be relaxing?” It’s true however. Tensing and releasing individual muscle groups is a technique called Progressive Muscle Relaxation Training and it has been demonstrated to provide aid in relaxation. In a nutshell, all you need to do is close your eyes, focus on individual muscle groups, and take turns tensing, then relaxing the muscle groups.

    Use of a guided audio or video can increase the effectiveness of this technique according to the study.

    Want to take this a little further? If you’re not worried about co-workers asking you what you are doing, incorporating pushing against during the tightening phase changes this from Progressive Muscle Relaxation to Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PMF). You can read more on how to incorporate PMF into neck and shoulder relaxation at Yoga International.



    Meditation has been shown by scientists to aid in relaxation and stress relief as well as a slew of other benefits. You can start to gain the benefit of meditation with as little as five to ten minutes – perfect for those short breaks and lunches with time left over. A simple meditation method taught by Bhante Sujatha, a monk from Sri Lanka, is to close your eyes, and repeat this phrase to yourself: “I am well, I am happy, I am peaceful.”

    Depending on how much time you have to meditate, he further advises to spend more time, meditating each section of the phrase and what it means to you. You can substitute this phrase for any quote, word, thought, or verse that is meaningful and uplifting to you.

    Sell Your Boss On The Benefits Of A Relaxing Work Environment

    Studies have shown improvements in employee work behavior and even a decrease in absenteeism when employers provide training and means for employees to be able to relax. Share this article, bring in a book about the benefits of relaxation such as “The Happiness Track” and recommend simple things like adding a comfortable chair conducive for relaxing or meditating in the break room. Bigger office? Think big! Some airports have dedicated relaxation or meditation rooms. Have some outdoor space? A sand pit for drawing in the sand can be both stylish and relaxing.


    Remember, our bodies are designed for periods of rest between periods of stress. These five tips will help you take a moment from the stress of work to help your mind unwind, enabling you to power through your day with even greater productivity.

    Need more? Check out these 20 Stunning Nature Photos That Will Leave You Speechless and are all great candidates for your new desktop background or screensaver.

    Featured photo credit: Public Domain Pictures / 18043 Images via

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    Overcoming The Pain Of A Breakup: 3 Suggestions Based On Science

    Overcoming The Pain Of A Breakup: 3 Suggestions Based On Science

    We thought that the expression ‘broken heart’ was just a metaphor, but science is telling us that it is not: breakups and rejections do cause physical pain. When a group of psychologists asked research participants to look at images of their ex-partners who broke up with them, researchers found that the same brain areas that are activated by physical pain are also activated by looking at images of ex-partners. Looking at images of our ex is a painful experience, literally.[1].

    Given that the effect of rejections and breakups is the same as the effect of physical pain, scientists have speculated on whether the practices that reduce physical pain could be used to reduce the emotional pain that follows from breakups and rejections. In a study on whether painkillers reduce the emotional pain caused by a breakup, researchers found that painkillers did help. Individuals who took painkillers were better able to deal with their breakup. Tamar Cohen wrote that “A simple dose of paracetamol could help ease the pain of a broken heart.”[2]


    Just like painkillers can be used to ease the pain of a broken heart, other practices that ease physical pain can also be used to ease the pain of rejections and breakups. Three of these scientifically validated practices are presented in this article.

    Looking at images of loved ones

    While images of ex-partners stimulate the pain neuro-circuitry in our brain, images of loved ones activate a different circuitry. Looking at images of people who care about us increases the release of oxytocin in our body. Oxytocin, or the “cuddle hormone,” is the hormone that our body relies on to induce in us a soothing feeling of tranquility, even when we are under high stress and pain.


    In fact, oxytocin was found to have a crucial role as a mother is giving birth to her baby. Despite the extreme pain that a mother has to endure during delivery, the high level of oxytocin secreted by her body transforms pain into pleasure. Mariem Melainine notes that, “Oxytocin levels are usually at their peak during delivery, which promotes a sense of euphoria in the mother and helps her develop a stronger bond with her baby.”[3]

    Whenever you feel tempted to look at images of your ex-partner, log into your Facebook page and start browsing images of your loved ones. As Eva Ritvo, M.D. notes, “Facebook fools our brain into believing that loved ones surround us, which historically was essential to our survival. The human brain, because it evolved thousands of years before photography, fails on many levels to recognize the difference between pictures and people”[4]



    Endorphins are neurotransmitters that reduce our perception of pain. When our body is high on endorphins, painful sensations are kept outside of conscious awareness. It was found that exercise causes endorphins to be secreted in the brain and as a result produce a feeling of power, as psychologist Alex Korb noted in his book: “Exercise causes your brain to release endorphins, neurotransmitters that act on your neurons like opiates (such as morphine or Vicodin) by sending a neural signal to reduce pain and provide anxiety relief.”[5] By inhibiting pain from being transmitted to our brain, exercise acts as a powerful antidote to the pain caused by rejections and breakups.


    Jon Kabat Zinn, a doctor who pioneered the use of mindfulness meditation therapy for patients with chronic pain, has argued that it is not pain itself that is harmful to our mental health, rather, it is the way we react to pain. When we react to pain with irritation, frustration, and self-pity, more pain is generated, and we enter a never ending spiral of painful thoughts and sensations.


    In order to disrupt the domino effect caused by reacting to pain with pain, Kabat Zinn and other proponents of mindfulness meditation therapy have suggested reacting to pain through nonjudgmental contemplation and acceptance. By practicing meditation on a daily basis and getting used to the habit of paying attention to the sensations generated by our body (including the painful ones and by observing these sensations nonjudgmentally and with compassion) our brain develops the habit of reacting to pain with grace and patience.

    When you find yourself thinking about a recent breakup or a recent rejection, close your eyes and pay attention to the sensations produced by your body. Take deep breaths and as you are feeling the sensations produced by your body, distance yourself from them, and observe them without judgment and with compassion. If your brain starts wandering and gets distracted, gently bring back your compassionate nonjudgmental attention to your body. Try to do this exercise for one minute and gradually increase its duration.

    With consistent practice, nonjudgmental acceptance will become our default reaction to breakups, rejections, and other disappointments that we experience in life. Every rejection and every breakup teaches us great lessons about relationships and about ourselves.

    Featured photo credit: condesign via


    [1] US National Library of Medicine: Social rejection shares somatosensory representations with physical pain
    [2] Daily Mail: Nursing a broken heart? How taking a paracetamol could dull the pain of rejection
    [3] Mother For Life: Oxytocin’s Role
    [4] Psychology Today: Facebook and Your Brain
    [5] Alex Korb: The Upward Spiral

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