By: Chas Barrie, Accessibility Advocate
Don’t Pull Your Hair-Out
It has been some time now since many of us have been working from home. Our hats are off to all of you who are continuing to be productive in this strange new reality of a home office.
Working from home is something that works easily for some and not for others. For all who are successful and for those of you who are still struggling with this new workplace environment, kudos to all of you for still having your hair, or most of it.
Fighting distractions and interruptions, spouses, children, news on the pandemic, isolation from family, friends, and neighbors, while dealing with work-related isolation (that is to say the lack of collaboration among coworkers) are a few of the complications occupying our minds while coping with this new lifestyle. As we attempt to tackle this lifestyle change and the overwhelming desire to get out of the house, our mental state may be deteriorating. We begin to stress and depression may be sneaking in. Don’t let it and remember you’re not alone.
It’s not surprising that there are a number of blogs and articles on the internet relating to this. A caveat to this quantity of information is that during this pandemic and the rise in unemployment, not all stress relieving suggestions are practical. One blog in particular, by Amy Morin has some simple technics which, in our focus to stay productive in our jobs and trying to stay sane, we may have overlooked. Below are Amy’s 5 stress relievers that can be done at your desk:
1. “Progressive Muscle Relaxation”
News media, as they should, have been continuously reporting on the current pandemic crisis. For the majority of people this increases stress levels.
This increased stress, as Morin points out: “can cause you to tense certain muscles in your body. Over time, you may become accustomed to that tension that you stop noticing that your muscles are tight. Sore muscles-especially in the neck and shoulders can stem from chronic tension. Progressive muscle relaxation lets go of that tension.
Spotlighting the neck and shoulders, try slowly tensing and relaxing your muscles. Focus on one group at a time beginning with your toes and moving up to your neck. Below are a few links which may help. Remember, like everything, it takes practice to master progressive muscle relaxation.
Below are a few of the many sites to get you started:
I have used the next suggestions for years and they actually work for me. Once again, they take practice.
Visualization can be a very powerful relaxation tool. Although you can’t physically be at your favorite peaceful place or you place of Zen, taking a momentary mental break in your chair can do wonders to relieve stress while you go to your favorite place.
Remembering that favorite place, Morin suggests: “Close your eyes and spend a few minutes imagining you are there. Engage as many senses as you can by thinking about what you’d see, hear, smell, touch, and taste as if you were really enjoying that relaxing scene.”
Taking this little mental vacation can relax both your body and mind reducing stress. Try visiting these sites, and there are more:
3. “Deep Breathing”
Of all the subconscious activities our body performs, breathing is one many people never give a second thought too. This is a completely automatic life function. Yet when we allow ourselves to be aware we discover it can have an impact and it affects our bodies. Performing routine deep breathing exercises has the ability of yielding a natural relaxation. In her article, Amy Morin reports: “Deep breathing is so powerful that The American Institute of Stress even named it `the best stress reduction technique’ of all.”
The act of deep breathing increases the oxygen supply to the brain. This increased oxygen supply stimulates a state of calmness, which in turn relaxes the body. A calm body and brain fosters greater creative thought and increased productivity. Slow deep breathing combined with visualization skills can provide immediate stress relief.
Below are just a few links that may help:
4. “Engage Your Senses“
Another way to refocus our attention and to escape the deep dark hole of worry is engaging your senses. Reflect on which of our senses is the most helpful and push aside the ones that are hindering us.
This is a very useful suggestion but requires experimentation as to which activity is helpful. Some examples might be; eating some of your favorite candies, squeezing a stress ball, looking at family pictures, or, listening to music. I find it music very relaxing and at the same time very creatively stimulating. Once again, with a little practice one can find the sensory trigger that provides the most stress relief.
Additional sites to help with sensory stress relief:
Amy Morin reminds us: “It’s true what they say-laughter really is the best medicine.” There is nothing more refreshing than a belly laugh, it eases stress and tension while increasing circulation. Laughter is known to increase endorphins in the brain while producing relaxing and almost euphoric feelings.
Though surrounding yourself with funny pictures, humorous cartoons and silly jokes are all useful tools, don’t forget to have or develop a willingness to laugh at yourself. This can serve as a good reminder not to take life too seriously which can serve you well in reducing stress.
While researching for this blog and trying to come up with solutions for the different varieties of stresses we are all attempting to confront at this time, I came across a number of sites with a wide array of suggestions and antidotes, but unfortunately most were difficult to apply during a pandemic and a stay-at-home order. There is one suggestion which was recurring and was felt to be important and perhaps forgotten by some of us:
This is a temporary situation and it will get better, just keep everything in perspective, relax and smile.
Finally, I have seen videos and have read articles about chair dancing. As silly as it sounds, it is refreshing and a great stress reliever. If this sounds interesting to you attached is a website link as an example:
WARNING: make sure the first time you try this, no one is home. My spouse happened to walk into my office and saw me. I can’t even describe her facial expression. I have since not lived this down. At least be sure they know what you’re doing before you surprise them. Remember to keep a sense of humor about yourself.
A CALM BRAIN! Remember a calm brain is the key to a calm body and also helps us to learn, to be creative, and to be productive. So keep your hair in place.
Morin, Amy. (2020). 5 Powerful Stress Relievers You Can Do At Your Desk. Retrieved from: https://www.forbes.com/sites/amymorin/2015/07/29/5-powerful-stress-relievers-you-can-do-at-your-desk/#170480ca3cc6
Faley, Chris. (1995). Tommy Boy. Paramount Pictures, https://milwaukeerecord.com/film/holy-schnikes-lakefront-brewery-will-screen-tommy-boy-avalon-theater-february/
Unknown. (2019). 5 Facts about the Hairless Sphynx Cats. Retrieved from: www.lifewithcatman.com/catman/facts-about-sphynx-cats/