‘Eight ways to de-stress at your desk’ – Priory expert

‘Eight ways to de-stress at your desk’ – Priory expert

Stress at work can be very difficult to avoid, especially if you are stuck behind a desk.

Combined with long hours, it can take a serious toll on mental health, especially for women according to a new study.

The Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health  found that women who put in 55 hours or more every week at work had a higher risk of depression. Working weekends also increased depression risk for both men and women.

Researchers looked at data from Understanding Society, the United Kingdom Household Longitudinal Study (UKHLS), collected from more than 23,000 men and women.

Women often had to juggle work with household duties and caring for family members.

But there were a few factors that seemed to affect mental health no matter the person's gender. Older workers, workers who smoke, those who earned the least, and those who had the least control at their jobs tended to be more depressed when compared with other workers.

Psychological problems, including stress, anxiety and depression, are behind one in five visits to a GP.

Ahead of Stress Awareness Month (April), Priory expert Steve Clarke, a psychotherapist and therapy services manager at the Priory’s Life Works Hospital in Woking, Surrey, says: “Recent statistics on stress and burnout emphasise the importance of treating such conditions as promptly as possible, in order to improve the lives of those struggling to cope. In the past year alone, a reported 74% of people surveyed had felt so stressed at some point, they had been too overwhelmed to cope with everyday tasks.

“In the UK, 12.5 million working days are lost each year due to work-related stress, depression or anxiety and in 2016/17, stress, depression or anxiety accounted for 40% of all work-related ill health cases and 49% of all working days lost due to ill-health.”

He says there some things employees can do themselves to try and manage their own stress.

They can be carried out during the working day, at a desk.

  • Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) - Repetitive finger tapping can sometimes help to release negative emotions such as anxiety. It has been called a psychological version of acupuncture in that it involves making contact with a number of acupuncture points. The specific points to tap are the end-points of the major meridians (meridians are believed to be channels of subtle energy which flow through our body). So, whilst focusing on your negative emotion you tap on a ‘meridian’ point (the eyebrow, side of the eye, under eye, under nose, chin, collarbone, under the arm and top of the head) three to seven times, repeating your negative thought in your head. After each emotion, take a deep breath and exhale. Continue this until you feel calmer and relieved. When you feel more relieved, repeat the technique whilst you tap through a “positive round”, repeating more uplifting phrases.
  • Guided meditation apps – Many apps like Headspace offer different types of meditation for different concerns, or simply basic meditation. These typically offer meditation as short as 3 minutes and up to 20 minute sessions.
  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation – This can also be done at any time during the day. PMR involves tensing and releasing muscles in certain intervals. There are guided versions available online for free on YouTube.
  • Deep breathing – Take a long deep breath while counting for 5-8 seconds, then hold it for 5-8 seconds. Repeat several times to relieve anxious/stressed feelings. This can help re-centre you during a busy work day.
  • Eat healthy- Avoid comfort eating and instead choose food that increases your energy and gives you sustainable nutrients to get you through the day.
  • Prevention is key – Plan out your week or day ahead and create a checklist of things that need to be completed by priority. Give yourself enough time to complete each task and schedule regular breaks to avoid burnout. Reward yourself for completing tasks, even if it’s as simple as crossing it off the checklist.
  • Changing a difficult situation isn't always possible. So accept what you cannot change and focus on the things you do have control over - such as looking for another job.
  • Put on headphones and listening to music can have many benefits, such as helping you relax and focus on something you enjoy. Take a walk - even it’s just to the water station and back to your desk. Ideally, enjoy some fresh air. Changing your environment can clear your mind and re-energise you.




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About Priory and MEDIAN

Priory is the UK’s leading independent provider of mental health services. We treat more than 70 conditions, including depression, anxiety, addictions and eating disorders, as well as children’s mental health, across our nationwide network of sites. We also support autistic adults and adults with a learning disability, Prader-Willi Syndrome and brain injuries, as well as older people, within our specialist residential care and supported living facilities – helping as many people as possible to live their lives.

Priory is part of the MEDIAN Group, one of Europe’s leading providers of high quality mental health and rehabilitation services. The MEDIAN Group comprises 290 facilities with 5,000 beds caring for 28,000 people in the UK, 120 facilities with 20,000 beds caring for around 250,000 patients in Germany, and 15 facilities with 2,000 beds caring for 13,000 people in Spain, with more than 29,000 employees overall.

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