How to calm yourself down if you're stressed at work

Cortisol is the hormone responsibile for sending the body into stress - here's how to beat it 

Mollie Goodfellow
Sunday 01 November 2015 09:04 GMT
If stress is getting to you, try these handy hints
If stress is getting to you, try these handy hints

Everyone experiences stress from time to time, but there are some small things that can be done to combat it.

Whether you take a five minute break to take a walk outside, or spend a few minutes concentrating on your breathing while at your desk, here are some tips for getting through the day.

1) Breathe slowly and deeply

When you get stressed, you tend to breathe quicker and may end up hyperventilating. If you take the time to concentrate on slowing down your breathing, taking even and deep breaths, you can trick your body into thinking you’re calmer than you actually are.

2) Tense your muscles

Cortisol is known as the “stress hormone”. A study showed that after some gentle movement such as Tai chi or a brisk walk, levels of cortisol in participants lowered.

Another study, this time from Stanford University published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, found that people who walked for 90 minutes in a rural environment as opposed to an urban setting showed decrease activity in the portion of the brain that is associated with depression.

A study at the medical school of the University of Malaysia looked at the effects of PMR among soccer players. They measured the levels of stress, depression, fatigue and tension a week before they undertook relaxation training, and post training tests revealed a measured reduction in those stress levels.

3) Listen to classical music

It’s proven that classical music promotes long-term heart health as well as reducing stress. A study by the University of Oxford found that music that matched the rhythm of the body could help bring down blood pressure.

Research undertaken in universities in France found that students who attended lectures that had classical music played in the background scored higher in quizzes where students who listened to no music during lectures. The researchers theorised that listening to the music heightened the students emotional state, leaving them more susceptible to taking in information.

4) Do some reading

Reading silently for six minutes can slow down the heart rate and ease tension in the muscles. The University of Sussex and Mindlab International found that reading could reduce stress levels by up to 68 per cent, so keep a book or kindle in your desk and have a read during your lunch break for extra calm.

5) Take a break and go for a short walk

Cortisol is known as the “stress hormone”. A study showed after some gentle movement such as Tai chi or a brisk walk, levels of cortisone in participants lowered.

6) Think about your stress in a different way

Can you use your stress to help motivate you to complete difficult tasks? It’s been proven that if you realign how you think about your stress and use it to bolster you to complete tasks, you can reduce your actual stress levels.

One study asked one set of participants to think about physical stress during a stressful task as functional, whereas another set were given no instruction. The group that were told to think about their stress functionally reported increased cardiac efficiency – in other words lower stress levels.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in