When you are under stress, your entire body becomes tense and your posture changes. Make a conscious effort to relax your body while at work so that you can reduce tension and alleviate the damaging effects of your physical response to stress.

Relaxing at work

When you spend several hours sitting at a desk or in long meetings, tension can accumulate in the upper body, particularly around the neck and shoulders, which can cause muscular aches. Follow a simple routine during the day to help you relax, release tension, and renew energy:

Exercise one

With hands on your chest and abdomen, breathe in and out through the nose, letting your abdomen expand and sink.

Exercise two

Loosen your collar, and place your hands over your shoulders. Exhale, let your head fall backwards, and slowly draw your fingers over your collar bones. Repeat several times.

Exercise three

Place your left hand on your right shoulder, and squeeze gently. Hold for several seconds, then release. Repeat along the shoulder and arm. Do the same on the opposite side.

Exercise four

Place the fingers of both hands at the base of your skull. Apply slow, circular pressure, working gradually down your neck and then out across the shoulders.

Exercise five

Support your left elbow on your right hand, and drum the fingers of your left hand on your right shoulder blade. Repeat with your right elbow on your left hand.

Exercise six

Place your hands on the top of your head. Allow your hands to pull your head gently down, and hold the position. Feel the slight stretch in the back of the neck.

Exercise seven

Lift your right shoulder, and slowly rotate it backwards. Repeat the exercise with your left shoulder, then rotate both shoulders together. Keep your arms loose and relaxed.

  • Start by loosening your collar, tie, or scarf, and untying your shoelaces – or take off your shoes;

  • Run through the exercises on these pages, concentrating on those you find most helpful;

  • Repeat the exercises every couple of hours, rather than waiting until you feel stressed and tense. Remember, it is much easier to work towards preventing stress than to try to cure it.

Taking a break from working on screen

Many people spend large amounts of time in front of computer screens. This is especially tiring for the eyes and the surrounding muscles. Take a short break from computer work every hour or so, and move or turn away from the screen. Perform the exercises shown here at regular intervals to reduce tension and prevent eye strain.

Exercise one

Close your eyes, relax the muscles in your face, and unclench your jaw. Keeping your fingers together, place the fingertips against your forehead, and gently move them in circles around your eyes. Repeat several times in one direction, then repeat in the opposite direction.

Exercise two

Place your fingertips on your forehead, and gently massage the temples with your thumbs.

Exercise three

Release any tautness in your face by cupping your hands over your eyes and relaxing. Hold this position for several seconds. Do this exercise in darkness, if possible.


Practise yoga or a similar exercise routine to help you relax.

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