... so here's how you should go about turning the office into a haven where you can burn lavender oil, and `Om' to your heart's content

Sit down on a comfortable chair (public transport is as good a place as any) with your legs uncrossed. Put your hands by your sides and shut your eyes. For 30 seconds, try not to think of anything (but don't worry if random thoughts keep popping into your head). Then, start saying your mantra, slowly, over and over again, for about 20 minutes. A typical mantra is "Om", but you can opt for any word that you like the sound of (for example, "Sea"). Focus on the sound of the word. Try this twice a day, before breakfast and then before your evening meal.

Practitioners refer to TM as a "mental bath" which stimulates alertness and creativity. Studies have shown that it can help with stress-related disorders including anxiety, mild depression, insomnia, high blood pressure, angina pectoris and post-traumatic stress disorder.

In Canada, one insurance company offered a 50 per cent discount for anyone practising TM because its research showed that they claimed up to 50 per cent less than their non-meditating counterparts. More than 700 doctors in the UK have learned TM and recommend it to their patients.

Information line: 0990 143 733


Elaine Liechti, a teacher at the Glasgow School of Shiatsu, suggests trying some discreet exercises at your desk.

l Frantic? Massage the back of the neck by starting in the hollow of the skull and moving slowly down the groove of the neck, stopping in two places to apply pressure for around five seconds.

l For headaches, apply pressure to the webbing between the index finger and the thumb.

l For anxiety, nervousness and fatigue, curl up your hand into a loose fist and apply pressure where the middle finger reaches the centre of the palm.

l Stressed? Using the fingertips, tap around the top of the head. Or, with a light fist, tap over the upper chest.

Contact: the Shiatsu Society, 0171-813 7772


According to Terry Canter, director of New Innovations, stressed executives should try amethyst, "a stone of peace and tranquillity". Quartz is another stone that is supposed to be soothing and de-stressing. "The crystals absorb all bad energies like a magnet and filter it back out as good energy", says Cantor. And they can also be put to use as paperweights.

For mail order, contact New Age Innovations, 0181-596 9900


Chrissie Wildwood, author of The Complete Guide to Reducing Stress (Piatkus), claims that aromatherapy is "one of the best therapies for stress".

She recommends a mixture of eucalyptus and lemon for clearing the head and coaxing the mind into action. Peppermint's stimulating qualities are good for head clearing, catarrh and headaches. Lavender blended with neroli is wonderful for promoting relaxation. In the office, place a few drops of oils on a tissue and inhale from time to time. If you've got tolerant colleagues, buy an Aromastone from Neal's Yard for pounds 23. This is a ceramic dish that is electrically powered on a low heat. Oil can be placed in the dish in a neat form or floated in water.

Also, after a tough day at the office, Chrissie recommends a warm, relaxing bath with six drops of either camomile, lavender, rose, neroli or sandalwood.

Neal's Yard Remedies. For mail order, call 0161-831 7875

E'SPA's Massage Oil

A super-soothing essential blend of myrrh, lavender, orange and geranium that can be applied to the temples and pulse points and deeply inhaled or placed in an oil burner. The company claims that the oil, which costs pounds 15, "will help to restore the balance between mind and body in the workplace". Whatever, it smells nice, and it's not bad in the bedroom, either. You could also try E'SPA's Floral Spafresh Spritzer (pounds 13.50), a revitalising blend of rose, geranium and tangerine essences, to refresh the face throughout the day.

For nearest stockist: 01252 741 600