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 Award-winning business author and broadcaster

Leadership trainer and coach

Keynote speaker

  • Writer's pictureAudrey Tang

De-stress at your desk

Updated: Jul 25, 2022

This article was adapted for The Metro

Only a couple of minutes to try and reclaim some headspace? Try the following exercises.

1. The gratitude desk stretch

Stretch your arms and think about one thing you are proud of or grateful for that has happened so far today.

Stretch your legs and think about one thing you are looking forward to today.

Not only does this get you to focus on the now, but it also gives you a chance to reset your posture.

2. Reflect on your personal showreel

Take a moment to focus on a success that you had in the past – something you were really proud of. Make the image vibrant – really think about the sounds, smells, even tastes and sensations of that event. Now think focus on a success you had in the last week, even if it doesn’t seem as significant. Again make that image really vibrant.

This exercise helps refocus your confidence as you think about something that you’ve achieved in the past, and reminds you to aim for successes on a regular basis - because you managed it recently, even if it was just a little win!

3. Identify your field-based successes

When you train for a job, success is often easily identified through exam grades or certificates. In the workplace it relies on subtleties such as repeat business or a bonus. Identify the success criteria of your field. Measure yourself against that criteria (not what you see others are posting on LinkedIn!) Note the areas in which you are pleased with your progress and those where you’d like to do more.

Identify one action you can do to take a step closer to improvement.

Do it!

4. Ground yourself using the 5,4,3,2,1, technique

Rather than telling yourself to “calm down”, get out of your spiral of overthinking by stating:

5 things you can see

4 things you can hear

3 things you can touch

2 things you can smell

1 thing you can taste

5. Revisit your “positivity reservoir”

Take screenshots, or save emails from grateful clients and customers, and when you are feeling underappreciated or wonder if you’re making an impact – use them to remind yourself that you make a difference.

6. Thank a colleague

A great way to experience joy is by creating it – so even if you can’t think of a way to de-stress directly, focus on someone who made a difference to you and thank them. By offering positive energy you may find more in yourself.

7. Speak kindly to yourself

Show yourself some self compassion by using statements such as “I know this is tough”, “I get that this really sucks” – by giving yourself permission to feel frustration or anger or sadness, you can minimise its intensity, and that in itself can help clear some thinking space to move through it.

Tips for leaders to minimise areas of stress:

8. Creative perspectives

Trying to come up with a new idea or design insight? Try thinking about the problem from the eyes of a child, or maybe an astronaut, or even a pirate…what about the perspective of your client, or their audience maybe? Even though you may dismiss some of the initial thoughts, you will have opened your mind to ideas outside your personal imagination.

9. Lighting bolt your brainstorm

Rather than having an open forum for “those who may dominate” which can also hinder those a little shy, give your teams to write down their ideas individually, then a further minute to share and discuss them in pairs, and then open the discussion as a group. Everyone will have contributed something, and because they have written it down, the person who might have a great idea but finds it harder to express themselves, has the chance to be heard.

10. Plan for the future

If leading a team, think about preparing their skills for future developments in your field. Take a little time to find out how the demands may change and what skills could be required to meet those changes. Focus your training on those areas as well as what your team needs right now.

Dr Audrey Tang is a chartered psychologist and author with a specialty in the "how to take action", rather than just giving explanation and advice. Listen to her podcast Retrain Your Brain here; and catch her practical masterclasses Psych Back to Basics on DisruptiveTV & Energy Top Up for resilience. For self development tools based within positive psychology: click Her YouTube Channel . Twitter/IG @draudreyt


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