The number of working days lost to stress rose by almost a quarter last year, from 12.5 million to the current figure of 15.4 million. Long hours, tight deadlines and increasing demands can turn work into an emotional roller coaster that will, inevitably, affect performance and job satisfaction
Taking care of yourself doesn’t require a total lifestyle overhaul; small things can lift your mood, increase your energy and you can be back at your desk, fresh as a daisy, before most people have realised you’ve left.
Here are the top six lunch hour de-stress activities, according to Isla Knight of JustUWellness:
It doesn’t sound like a lot, but an eight-minute neck and shoulder massage through your clothes is enough to relieve stress and leave you feeling relaxed. It’s fast and convenient, and there’s no need for messy oils that might get into your hair – which can be a problem when you need to go back to work. A quick massage will leave you invigorated and able to take on the rest of the day.
Threading is an ancient Indian hair removal technique that is fast and convenient, leaves no marks, is not at all messy and can, temporarily, have the same effects as a mini-facelift. Having the eyebrows shaped can awaken the face and the very process of making you look more awake can make you feel more awake too. The method of twisting cotton through the eyebrows can feel a bit like tweezing multiple hairs at once – and can be a slightly eye-watering experience – but it’s bearable pain, and it’s so quick, at around 10 minutes, there will be plenty of time to compose yourself before facing your colleagues.
Fast yoga has been modified for the west so you can do in ten minutes what would normally take half-an-hour. The rigidity of the classic yoga practice has been broken down and it’s all about stretching and using your hands to reach out and achieve those cobra silhouettes, with the concentration on breathing. One breath per pose builds up heat and energises the body. Moving through these rapid transitions with a trainer will push you to do more, faster than you would do on your own, burning more calories per minute, increasing muscle activation and leaving you feeling good.
This literally means ‘cold therapy’. A major calorie-burner, the technique exposes the body to extremely cold temperatures for a very short burst of time – often less than two minutes. The idea is to shock the system into re-starting itself and it is known to have a variety of health benefits; as well as helping with weight-loss it can reduce migraines and help with chronic pain and mood disorders.
The cold temperature causes physiological and hormonal responses and causes the release of adrenaline, noradrenaline and mood enhancing endorphins which combat anxiety and depression. The effects are quite substantial and you will feel a lot more energetic and invigorated when you leave.
This is a centuries old treatment which must be done by a highly trained therapist. It can be experienced one-to-one in the office, and is gentle and relaxing. Manipulation is carried out on the stress nodes from the neck to the top of the head, using a light touch to relieve the extra fluids that gather in this area. The technique involves gentle massage (without oils) focusing on pressure points. Taking only around eight-minutes, this treatment reduces stress and builds energy, helping the body to restore itself. It is suitable for anyone, of any age, and is perfect for relieving the pressures of day-to-day stresses that can easily be triggered by technology and pollution. When the body slows down during a session it can begin to untangle itself and re-balance, thereby letting go of accumulated physical tensions.
This is a quick-fire session where you work hard for 20 seconds doing squats, push-ups, burpees or kettlebells – you choose – and then rest for 10 seconds. Don’t be fooled by the shortness of this workout; it will feel like a long time due to the intensity. The aim is to get the heart rate up, which gets the body moving more oxygen and blood around the body and releasing endorphins, which will lift your mood. It’s perfect for people short on time and it can be done in the office with a trainer.
Discovered by Japanese scientist Dr Izumi Tabata, and a team of researchers in Tokyo, who carried out a study which found a 28% increase in the anaerobic system (muscle) in the high intensity group, which worked out four days a week, for two weeks, at four minutes and 20 seconds each time as opposed to the moderate intensity group which worked out five days a week, for six weeks, in one hour long sessions. Just eight minutes of Tabata is the equivalent of a 30 minute workout. There might be a little bit of sweat worked up on the skin, but a small towel is all you need to freshen up and be raring to go back at work.
Most treatments cost between £10 and £30 and, when you consider how much that quick lunchtime blast could energise and improve productivity, it should almost be written into the working day. To find out more about Tabata Training click here.