26 Quick Ways To De-Stress at Work and Why It Matters

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated May 12, 2022

Published July 13, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

De-stressing at work can help you identify and overcome challenges that arise throughout the day. Many de-stressing methods only take a few minutes, allowing you to do them at your desk or on your lunch break. Understanding how to relieve stress can increase your motivation, improve your productivity and help you feel more satisfied with your job. In this article, we discuss the importance of de-stressing and list 26 quick ways to do it at work.

Read more: How To De-Stress at Work

Why is it important to de-stress at work?

It's important to de-stress at work because stress can make it difficult to overcome work-related obstacles. Using quick methods to relieve stress may make you happier and even improve your health. While stress is a natural, normal reaction that can help your body and mind deal with certain circumstances temporarily, de-stressing techniques can help you overcome lasting stress and help prevent negative effects on your well-being.

Related: How To Take Time Off Work for Stress (Plus Tips)

26 quick ways to de-stress at work

Here are 26 quick ways you can de-stress at work or in your home office:

1. Organize your workspace

Organize your desk or workspace to help you stay productive and feel more accomplished throughout the day. Take a few minutes before work, after work or in between important tasks to throw away garbage, file important documents and put office supplies in your desk drawers. Keeping everything in its place minimizes distractions and may help you feel less stressed and more motivated.

Read more: How To Address a Disorganized Workspace in 6 Steps

2. Practice deep breathing

Instead of just taking a deep breath to relieve stress, focus on how you breathe, in particular. When you breathe in, imagine the air traveling to your stomach. Push your stomach out and hold for a moment, then forcefully release the air and pull your stomach back in as you exhale. Feeling your breath enter and leave your body can help you experience the effects of increased oxygen throughout your body and mind.

3. Take a walk

Getting out of your chair and walking for a few minutes may help you release tension. If you work in an office, try taking short walks to the water cooler or to a colleague's desk to say hello. If you work remotely, walk your dog for a few minutes or check your mail.

4. Stretch

If muscle soreness or stiffness from sitting in an office chair all day affects your mood, try standing up and stretching to loosen tight muscles and increase blood flow. When you're comfortable, it's easier to move your focus from your body to your work, which can help you feel better and help you accomplish more.

5. Listen to soothing music

Consider listening to music to decrease your feelings of anxiety and help you feel more connected to your work. If you find that listening to music improves your mood, pick a genre that relates to your work. For example, if you have several data values to enter into a spreadsheet, fast-paced music may help you work quicker and more efficiently. If your work requires intense focus, slow instrumental music may help you relax and concentrate.

Read more: Should You Listen To Music at Work? (With Tips)

6. Create an ergonomic setup

Ergonomics involves setting up your workspace to eliminate discomfort. Take an ergonomic approach to working in order to minimize the physical effects of sitting at a desk for long periods. Consider adjusting your chair so your knees are level with your hips, keeping your monitor an arm's length from your face and holding your hands below elbow level when typing.

7. Eat nutritious snacks

When you feel tired and stressed, consider eating a nutritious snack to help with your memory and help minimize negative thoughts or feelings. Try eating one or two healthy snacks throughout the day for a natural mood boost that benefits your body, too.

8. Exercise during work

Maintain a regular exercise routine to help improve mental performance, help you manage stress more calmly and effectively and help increase your productivity at work. If you have other obligations that prevent you from getting up early to work out, consider performing several exercises at your desk throughout your workday. Exercises such as seated leg raises, calf raises and chair dips may improve your physical health and help decrease stress levels.

Read more: 15 Workplace Exercises To Keep You Healthy at the Office

9. Prioritize your most challenging tasks

If you're more alert during the morning, consider completing your most challenging duties at the beginning of your workday. Finishing complex tasks earlier in the day may provide you with a sense of accomplishment that relieves stress and makes the rest of the day more manageable. Completing challenging duties first also gives you more flexibility to handle other concerns that arise during the day.

10. Stay hydrated

Keep a glass of water by your workspace to help you stay hydrated. Staying hydrated may help decrease stress levels and improve your mood at work. A healthy fluid intake may also help with your muscle and joint flexibility, which can prevent discomfort that normally distracts you from completing your tasks.

11. Call a friend

Take a few minutes to call a friend or have a quick text conversation to temporarily take your focus off work and decompress. On especially challenging days, a loved one can provide you with the support you need to relax and feel more confident in your work. You might also consider making plans for after work so you have an incentive for finishing your work.

12. Take short breaks

If you're working on the same project for an extended period of time, consider taking regular breaks to relieve anxiety and help you feel more prepared to return to work. Schedule your breaks to help you prioritize time away from your desk. Consider adding a few 10-minute breaks to your schedule to get a glass of water, take some deep breaths and relax.

13. Make lists

Making lists of the work you need to complete can help you stay organized and prevent you from forgetting important tasks. You can make one list for the day, or create multiple lists for different areas of work. You can also make lists by day, week and months to keep you on track long-term.

14. Take your eyes off the screen

Look away from your computer screen for a few minutes at a time to help prevent the headaches and stress associated with screen brightness and intense focus. Concentrating on something other than your computer or phone helps your eyes rest, making it easier to resume work after a break. Try taking notes with a pen and paper instead of using a word processor to reduce screen time.

15. Make a cup of tea

Consider making a cup of herbal tea to increase relaxation and comfort in the afternoon. A hot beverage often feels soothing, and some herbs used in tea even have therapeutic effects. Instead of pouring another cup of coffee, consider making a cup of caffeine-free tea, such as chamomile or peppermint.

16. Do something fun at lunch

If you have a few extra minutes during your lunch break, try doing something fun to take your mind off work for a while. Walk down to a local farmer's market, visit a nearby boutique or pick up a treat at a bakery. If you're staying in your office at lunch, consider playing a game on your phone or reading a few chapters of a book to lower your stress before you finish the day.

17. Draw on your notes

If you're feeling anxious, consider drawing on your notes to help your mind relax. Having a creative outlet may calm your nerves and help you refocus on your work. Next time you start to feel stressed at work, pick up a pen and start drawing for a few minutes.

18. Find the origin of your stress

To relieve stress, it helps to know its source. Think about the times you feel stressed at work, and consider the events that lead to that feeling. If you can identify your triggers, you can change your routine to prevent them from occurring or minimize their effects.

19. Daydream for a few minutes

Set aside five minutes at work to close your eyes and think of a happy memory, like your favorite vacation or holiday with your family. Letting your mind relax and focus on something pleasant can help you reset and feel more prepared to continue with your workday.

20. Use relaxing fragrances

Consider using aromatherapy to help you relax during a stressful situation. Certain scents, such as lavender and rosemary, may have a calming effect that can benefit you at work. If you work at home, you can put a candle or essential oil diffuser on your desk. If you work in an office, apply essential oils so you can smell the fragrance without directly affecting your colleagues.

21. Practice affirmations

Positive self-talk may help you feel more confident at work, which may lead to reduced stress levels and increased productivity. Say things you like about yourself out loud to help you process and internalize them. For example, you might start your day by saying, "I am skilled at my job and a great asset to my team." Repeating this each morning helps you take control over negative feelings.

Read more: Positive Affirmations in the Workplace: Impact, Tips and Examples

22. Create a self-care plan

When work starts to feel overwhelming, plan a self-care routine to remind you of the importance of your physical and mental health. Some self-care strategies include taking breaks, socializing with colleagues and advocating for your needs at work.

Read more: 14 Ways You Can Implement More Self-Care at Work

23. Laugh

Look for ways to laugh throughout your workday to improve your mood. Try watching funny animal videos or looking up a few jokes at your desk. Laughing more may lead to a better mood, improved productivity and greater job satisfaction overall.

24. Start work early

Consider getting an early start at work, even if you arrive just 15 minutes early. Arriving early can help you feel more prepared and motivated for the rest of your day. Knowing you have time to get ready to start work can help prevent stress caused by feeling rushed. Try going to your office a few minutes before your start time, taking out the supplies you need to work and planning your workday in advance.

25. Set SMART goals

The SMART goal method can help you set goals that allow you to visualize your success. This method involves creating objectives that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. Manageable work goals may decrease stress and encourage motivation, which can benefit you both personally and professionally.

Read more: How To Write SMART Goals (With Examples)

26. Meditate

Meditating is the practice of combining breathing exercises with thoughts that help you live in the moment. When you concentrate on the present, you're likely to feel less focused on future concerns and more confident in your current work. Consider meditating during one of your work breaks. Many phone apps and books offer helpful advice on simple, quick meditation methods you can use at work or on the go.

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