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How to keep your cool at work

Created on Wed, 08/10/2014 - 15:58 by Jennifer Piper 

It’s National Mental Health Week in Australia, so we’re bringing you a series of tips on how to keep your mind healthy. Here’s some of our favourite ways to keep a steady mind, at work or study.

chocolate can help relieve stress

Image via Flickr

Super snacks

Did you know that some foods can actually improve your mental health?

Our favourite is probably dark chocolate. A square or two of dark chocolate can help to regulate your cortisol levels (a pretty nasty stress hormone) and calm you. Honey has been found to reduce depression and anxiety levels by acting on inflammation in the brain. Mango, as well as being a delicious excuse to take a break (they do take a while to peel) contains an amazing substance called linalool that can also help you manage your stress.

Wash it all down with a cup of green tea, containing L-Theanine, to minimise anger and frustration and bring the meal together.

To learn more about how different foods can impact your health, check out our free Food, Nutrition & Your Health course.

Brain breaks

Sometimes, the best way to get away from stress is to reduce stressful thoughts. A five-minute guided meditation, that you can cue up on your phone and do at your desk, can help recenter your thoughts and set you up for the rest of the day.

There’s an interesting exercise used as part of mindfulness, in which you close your eyes and pay attention to each part of your body, in turn. Not only does it give your brain something to focus on, other than your worries, it can also help you to identify parts of the body that are holding tension, and then release them.

Decent distractions

If your worries are too loud to get away from, sometimes a distraction is the best option. You can try counting backwards from 20, to distract your mind and give it a break from tracking all the worries running around your thoughts.

You could also have a go at creative visualisation or guided imagery. That’s where you spend a few minutes imagining all of the details around a scenario that you’d really like to happen. Maybe it’s diving into clear, cool water in a tropical paradise, maybe it’s bursting into song on the street and having everyone around you break into a perfectly choreographed dance routine. Whatever it is, picture all of the things you can see around you, as well as the smells and sounds, and then let your imagination take you on a little holiday from reality.

Mini massage

You don’t need to book into the day spa down the road to get a little massage into your day. When you find the tension turning into a headache, apply some pressure to the fleshy bit on your hand, between your thumb and forefinger. This acupressure point will hurt a bit when you press on it, but it’ll probably ease the pain in your skull. You can also slip off your shoes and rub the bottom of your feet over a golf ball, for a little self-delivered foot rub.

Nice noises

One of the senses we don’t often consider, when it comes time to relieve stress, is hearing. Just listening to a favourite song can take you away for a few moments, and if you find a song that always puts a smile on your face and gets your toes tapping, you can use it as a sort of emotional trigger to bring you back to your happy place.

There are also some great applications and websites that offer a variety of ‘white noise’, to give your subconscious something to concentrate on, other than your worries.

pedestrians in rush hour

Change of pace

Sometimes, just giving yourself a break from the environment causing the stress can allow your mind time to find its centre. We love taking five minutes to walk around the block. Not only does the sunshine and fresh air give you some much needed Vitamin D and oxygen, but the physical activity stimulates blood flow and helps to improve your overall mood.

If you can’t get out of the office, stand up and have a stretch, then sit back down and close your eyes for a few moments. Shutting out the stressors, even for a few minutes, can make all the difference to your day.

Put it all together

Of course, the very best option is to use a combination of these things (and any other favourites you might have) to lower your shoulders, calm your nerves and make the day run faster and more smoothly.

If you’d prefer a distraction that also teaches you something new, why not check out the free, short courses with Open2Study.

What’s your favourite way to reduce stress at work or study? Tell us in the comments below.


It's important to identify when stress is building up. Much better to take a break and return more clear-headed, than it is to lose it totally by imploding or exploding. :)

My favourites are walk around the block, listen to a select set of songs (either calming or upbeat/happy), eating chocolate (preferably caramel or peppermint), watching clouds or birds or the leaves dancing in the wind, petting a cat or dog (or furry stuffed toy animal), reminding myself how much I have achieved (not focus on the one thing that didn't go right) and what makes me happy (such as looking at photos of my super cute nephew).

Taking time to notice the things around you, and making the effort to get your blood circulating, are great ways to ground yourself and minimise stress.

Chocolate and walks are favourites for the team here, too.

Good article! I'm personally listen to the lounge music in order to relax and stay calm at work and at home. it's works for me very well))

Singing also is perfect thing to do for releasing all your stress.. I do singing if I'm in the Bad mood and I found it nice.. It works...

I run to the train station every afternoon after work, its such a great way to 'slough' off any frustrations from the day. And if there hasn't been any, its still an awesome way to get some fresh air n feel good. I love listening to my favorite upbeat songs too for a little mini break. Anything to make me smile.

Increasing the oxygen in your bloodstream is a great way to keep yourself happy and healthy. Nice one.

i do yoga every morning in different styles and moves as a way of changing the space of the mind to different attitude

Yoga does have a great combination of physical activity, breathing and mental focus. No wonder people love it as a stress-minimiser.

Apparently I hum a lot..I find this helps to quieten all the random thoughts in my mind and gives me a break from them.

A slow meditative walk around the block, taking casual note of everything natural in the area. Even the weeds that somehow manage to survive in the cracks in the concrete.☺

For me,,, i loved listening to love songs,,, it cools me down,,,, i like reading books,, newspapers,, or anything to read,,, i want to learn more,,,

It is quite natural to have physical as well as mental fatigue/stress while at study or at work on a chair in a work station with or without computer. I have worked in Bank for 37 years in India and came out with sound health at the age of 60 despite working for 9 to 10 hours every day for 6 days a week all these 37 years.
I will share my own experience how I could manage all these 37 years with no serious illness except for seasonal flu ,cough ,fever,stomach upset ranging from 1 day to 3/4 days.
My entire sick leave quota of 12 months plus additional special sick leave also lapsed at the time of superannuation.
The young boys and girls who are future for the world need to conserve/preserve their energy for themselves as well for the world around them.

Great article! All of these strategies are fantastic. Big tip - don't expect these to work first time - it takes practice for meditation techniques, sometimes weeks or maybe months in some cases, but the time it takes to learn is worth it!

This was a very interesting read! Lots of opinion and very
good research to be shared! Good feedback from the online
readers as well. I must commend the author and web designer
as well.

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