According to the Mental Health Foundation, work - along with money - is the main cause of stress in this country. A YouGov survey suggests 64 per cent of people in Britain are stressed at work, with almost half of workers eating a sandwich at their desk instead of taking a regular lunch break and 54 per cent saying they don't take any breaks other than lunch on a typical day.
No wonder so many British workers turn to alcohol (35 per cent) and comfort eating (27 per cent) after a stressful day at the office.
But while it may be tricky to step away from your desk for a quick break every hour or so, here are a few simple stress-busting moves you can try without even standing up.
Stretch your neck
Your neck can hold a lot of tension at work, especially if you sit behind a computer all day. And neck tension can lead to headaches later in the day, which can spoil your evening. Try this simple stretch to release a tense neck.
Sit in a neutral position, with your shoulders and neck relaxed, your knees bent at a 90-degree angle and your feet flat on the floor. Put your left hand gently on your head, then tilt your head towards your left shoulder. Use your hand to apply a little pressure, and you'll feel a stretch down the right side of your neck. Hold for a count of 10 at first (build up to a count of 30), then repeat on the other side. Do each stretch on each side twice whenever you feel the tension mounting up.
Rub it better
There's lots of evidence to suggest touch is good for your wellbeing, so try this desk massage technique from the Stress Management Society:
- Sit comfortably with your back supported against the back of the chair, feet firmly on the ground and hands and arms open and relaxed.
- With a deep breath in, raise the shoulders towards the ears and hold them raised for a few seconds. Then slowly breathe out and drop the shoulders. Repeat several times.
- Place your left hand on your right shoulder. Squeeze gently and then release. Repeat down the right arm to the elbow. Repeat several times. Place your right hand on your left shoulder and repeat the exercise.
- Place the fingers of both hands at the base of your skull; apply slow circular pressures down from the base of the skull to the base of the neck.
- Now close your eyes and relax your face muscles. Be aware of your eye muscles, your jaw and your forehead. Place the fingers of both hands on each side of the temples and slowly massage in a circular motion. Repeat several times.
- Finish by cupping your hands over your eyes and holding for several seconds. This helps to release tension and tightness in the face.
Loosen your back
Even if you have the latest posture-boosting ergonomic chair, sitting all day can play havoc with your back muscles. So every now and then, stretch it out to keep your spine supple.
Sit in a neutral position, then bend forward from your hips as if you're trying to touch your toes. Let your head, shoulders and arms relax and drop, and feel the stretch across your lower back and hips. Don't worry if you can't reach the floor, just rest your hands on your legs. Hold for as long as feels comfortable.
To stretch your upper back, sit again in a neutral position and cross your arms in front of you. If you have a chair with arms, try to grab them with your crossed hands (if your chair has no arms, just cross your arms as far as you can). Then lean back slightly without collapsing your spine - you should feel a nice stretch across your shoulders and upper back.
Do some knee bends
Sitting all day can also make your legs feel stiff and uncomfortable. The easiest way to counteract this feeling is to get up and have a walk around the office. But if that's not possible, this simple leg stretch may help.
Push your chair back away from your desk slightly and sit in a neutral position. Bend one of your legs bringing your knee up towards your chest and grasp your leg at the ankle or shin. Pull your leg in - you should feel a stretch along the back of the leg. Hold, snake it out, then repeat using the other leg. Repeat on both legs as many times as you need to.
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