Stress-busting secrets: 5 expert tips for fun and relaxation

A rough day at the office can be enough to ruin your whole day – or in some extreme cases, the entire week.

Drama, politics and workplace stress don’t need to seep into your private life, even if sometimes it feels like any boundaries between the two have dissolved.

World Wellbeing Week was recently celebrated (June 26 to 30) and here are five experts for their best advice for people wanting to leave their bad day at the office where it belongs – at the office [1].

‘A buffer is your secret weapon’

Stress stacks up during the day while at work and often comes out in the people we love most in the evenings and weekends.

Suppose you want to boost your ability to enjoy downtime while preventing burnout (which can be the cumulative effect of the workplace and emotional stress). In that case, knowing how to let it out in healthy ways can be useful.

In a hybrid world, many of us are finding it difficult to have a consistent routine that would enable us to build healthy health habits, so taking some time to reflect each week can help us create the buffers to switch gears from work to personal life. A buffer could be as simple as a walk, yoga class or talking to debrief your day and then let it go.

Movement of some kind is often the best way to shake off the stress from the day physically – a few stretches, a walk around your block or putting your favorite song on and dancing around your kitchen are all simple ways to ensure you shift gears to resourcing yourself or connecting with others.

Petra Velzeboer is a psychotherapist, CEO of mental health consultancy PVL and author of Begin With You [2]

‘Be intentional about self-care’

A difficult day at work can leave us feeling jangled and depleted – here are three efficient things to help you reset. Firstly – calm your nervous system.

A difficult and stressful day can leave us full of the hormone cortisol, making us simultaneously tired and wired. It can help to give yourself a few minutes to focus on your breath: breathe deeply into your abdomen and count the breaths in and out to a regular pattern.

Second, think of something that makes you happy; a person, a place, a memory. Not only will this help you take your mind off your day, but it will also help your body to metabolize the cortisol.

Lastly, do something that recharges your batteries. Think about something that will restore your energy and dedicate time to it.

A walk, a sleep, a read, a chat – whatever it is, being intentional about topping up your energy is important to your self-care and can give you a new perspective too.

Becky Hall is an accredited life coach, leadership consultant and is the author of The Art of Enough [3]

Shower as soon as you get home from work

‘Shower as soon as you get home from work’

When you arrive home at the end of your working day, switch off your phone and don’t open your laptop. Kiss your family, hello and hug them. Head upstairs for a shower and, as you take off your work clothes, take off your ‘work head’.

Play music, shower and sing at the top of your lungs. Afterward, sit quietly for 10 minutes. Close your eyes and relax your shoulders. Breathe in slowly and exhale slowly.

Think of your heart filling with love, emanating warmth to everything and everyone. As you exhale, breathe out the tightness and anxiety, letting your breath change your body/brain chemistry.

Imagine your perfect personal/work-life balance, visualizing yourself being in control of your time, fulfilling your tasks and saying NO when you feel overwhelmed. Make this a part of your routine after each working day.

Lianna Champ has over 40 years’ experience as a grief specialist and is author of the practical guide, How to Grieve Like A Champ [4].

‘If your stress was an animal, what animal would it be?’

If your mind feels stuck on a hamster wheel of stressful thoughts, chances are this is your left brain at work. The left brain can get trapped going round and round in circles and only paying attention to what it already knows instead of seeing new information that can help us solve problems or relax by embracing the present moment.

This is where we need to activate our right brain, and a great way to do that is through visual techniques. So, if your mind is sitting with a particular stress, try to objectify it.

Associating the stress with something physical will help you to understand and process your emotions from a fresh angle. For example, if your stress was an animal, what animal would it be?

Once the image of your ‘stress’ animal is strong in your mind, ask yourself: what do you think is really cute about this animal? Attaching something positive to it can “tame” your brain and prevent it from catastrophizing.

Finally, ask yourself: what environment do you see this animal in? Go through the mental process of putting your ‘stress’ animal where it belongs and leave it there. This allows you to mentally detach yourself from your stress.

Yda Bouvier is an Executive Coach and the author of Leading with the Right Brain [5]

‘Create positive morning micro-habits’

Be sure to deal with stress before the end of the day. Instead, pre-empt difficult days by making your mornings matter. 

Set the tone for your day by carving out time to meet your needs and apply self-care before the world around you comes to life and pulls you in different directions.

Hydrate: Drinking a big glass of water first thing in the morning might seem obvious – but the brain’s capacity to cope with stress and make decisions is impacted by dehydration. If you’ve got a jam-packed day ahead, hydrating in the morning will give you a head start.

Relax: Spend a few minutes taking some slow inhales and exhales, and then journal or think about something you’re looking forward to that day.

Achieve: What are the top 3 things you want to tick off your to-do list? Keep it bite-sized and manageable. There might be other ways that support you in meeting your needs, but by creating positive morning micro-habits that enable you to ‘fill your cup’ first, you’ll be in a much better state to deal with any challenges that come your way that day.

Similarly, bookending your day will help your mornings become even more fulfilling. Switch your journaling prompt to something you’re grateful for, tune into a relaxing yoga nidra meditation via an app or wind down with gentle stretches.

And, importantly, get anything ready that you need for your morning self-care. This will help your brain be less reliant on making decisions first thing in the morning, making it easier to stick to your new habits. Do your new routine every day for 30 days and enjoy!

Oliver Henry is a workplace wellbeing expert and co-founder of WorkLifeWell [6]


The information included in this article is for informational purposes only. The purpose of this webpage is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.