Gen Z and young millennial workers are missing the equivalent of a day a week at work due to mental health concerns, according to The Times1. With 12% of all workplace absences being attributed to mental health conditions2, taking care of your mental health has never been more important.

Research has shown that our working life could also be damaging physical health, as sitting at a desk, whether in an office or at home, puts a lot of strain on our bones and muscles. This can lead to an increased risk for desk worker of muscular skeletal disorders, diabetes, heart disease and more, even if they’re regularly active.

Office furniture suppliers, Furniture At Work, have worked with wellbeing experts to share four simple tips for combatting stress and improving wellbeing at work.

  1. Chair based exercises

Lower back pain is the fifth most common reason for physician visits3. Practicing the cat-cow stretch (first image) strengthens and stretches the spine and neck whilst massaging and stimulating organs in the stomach. This helps regulate emotions, creating balance and calming the mind.

Raising your arms & legs (second image) improves posture, increases the flexibility of your shoulders and armpits alongside reducing stress, anxiety, and tension. It’s a great position to practice after an early morning meeting or checking a barrage of emails after a week off!

  1. Try the 4-7-8 method

The 4-7-8 breathing technique involves breathing in for 4 seconds, holding the breath for 7 seconds, and exhaling for 8 seconds. This breathing exercise activates the body’s relaxation response, helping to reduce stress hormones, increase oxygen flow and lower blood pressure. Try the 4-7-8 breathing technique to lower your stress levels when you feel overwhelmed.

  • Sit comfortably with your back straight
  • Close your eyes and take a deep breath in through your nose for a count of 4
  • Hold your breath for a count of 7
  • Exhale fully through your mouth for a count of 8
  • Repeat this cycle 3-4 times or until you feel more relaxed
  1. Stress relieving meals

Diet can play a huge part in relieving stress, with research showing that foods like avocado and oranges can help reduce the feeling of stress4. Hydration is also key with drinking water and also 100% fruit juice showing benefits when reducing anxiety and stress.

Starting the day off well, experts recommend breakfasts such as avocado on toast and fresh fruit juice as a good first meal; avocados contain nutrients, protein, and fibre that may help sustain energy levels throughout the day, while a glass of fruit juice is packed with vitamins to boost your immune system.

It’s not just about what you take in, it’s what you cut out as well. When feeling particularly stressed, caffeine and high-sugar drinks can often increase levels of anxiety, so avoiding these drinks can help prevent you from feeling worse.

  1. T.O.P mindfulness

Whether you meditate regularly or are new to mindfulness, S.T.O.P is a powerful strategy that helps you to focus, relax and be at your emotional best when presented with a big moment.

S = Stop

Stop what you are doing: Press the pause button on your thoughts and actions

T = Take

Take a few deep breaths to centre yourself and bring yourself fully into the present moment

O = Observe

Observe what is going on with your:

Body
What physical sensations are you aware of (touch, sight, hearing, taste, smell)?

Emotions
What are you feeling right now?

Mind
What assumptions are your making about your feelings? What is the story you’re telling yourself about why you are having them?

P = Proceed

Proceed with whatever you were doing, making a conscious, intentional choice to incorporate what you just learned

Commenting on the stress-busting tips, HR and Wellbeing Expert, Amanda Pearce-Burton, says: “One of the most helpful things we can do to combat stress is to take time to pause and be more in the moment during the workday. This only needs to be a few moments – perhaps a short walk and feel your feet on the pavement, or to take a proper lunch break away from your desk and savour the taste and smell of your food.

“Taking just a few moments to feel more in the ‘here and now’ can stop us dwelling negatively and can help us refocus for the rest of the day.”

For more information on looking after your wellbeing in the office, visit the Furniture At Work blog: https://www.furniture-work.co.uk/blog/post/how-to-nourish-your-mind-body-and-soul-when-working-in-an-office