De-stress at your desk

Work, studies and being social can get overwhelming. Here are a few ways students can let loose and take a break during the day


Nisthula Nagarajan

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Published: Wed 25 Aug 2021, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Sat 25 Sep 2021, 1:29 PM

Being at university, part-time job or studying for examinations come with a certain amount of stress. Failing to manage and alleviate stress properly takes a toll on your body, mind and happiness. It can be challenging to find ways to relax during the workday especially if you sit behind a desk for the majority of the day. In addition to stress, studies show that sitting for long periods of time also has a negative impact on health. Now that higher education institutions have opened, most have adopted a hybrid style of teaching — combining physical classrooms with virtual ones. With transport, travel and study time, there is minimal movement and more stress.

The good news is you can do something about it. Here are eight stress relief exercises that you can do at your desk to improve your overall health and well-being.


Meditation is a powerful tool for several reasons. People use it as a moment of calm to reflect on their thoughts and to better understand themselves, manifest their long-term goals or just do peacefully do nothing. It is a way to recharge in the moment — even two minutes can do a world of good. Some individuals can meditate on their own while others prefer guided meditations that walk you through the steps and keep you focused.


Stretches are a simple way to get the blood flowing, relieve tension, increase circulation, and awaken your senses. You might even crack some bones. There are an endless number of stretches — a few you may want to try are the seated twist, head rolls, or leg hugs. You can also use your desk for hamstring and hip flexor stretches. Exercise you’re eye balls too every half an hour for a minute.


You are what you eat so make sure it’s healthy. Portion your food so it includes all the food groups plus make time for snacks. If you’re head to university in the morning and won’t be home until after sunset, don’t depend on fast food — always carry a box of nuts, fruit or trail mix plus a protein bar and some juice. And if you do want to indulge in some junk, try to make it homemade!


Music is a powerful way to overcome stress. Whatever your version of calm is, whether its hard rock or opera music, when you listen to music you enjoy, it makes you happy which helps reduce stress and anxiety.


This is a common solution to stress. When the going gets tough, take a beat and breathe in three times. The practice of controlled inhaling and exhaling induces a relaxed feeling. When you inhale deeply, you increase the amount of oxygen your brain receives which makes you feel calm and focused.


Visualisation is often used by leaders. It’s the idea of picturing yourself where you want to be. When you are stressed, you can close your eyes and picture yourself in a place that calms you, such as the beach or by the pool. It’s more than just thinking about the location. Visualisation works because you actually feel the same thoughts you would if you were physically in your happy place.


Write down a few goals you have for yourself. What would make you feel successful or happy? For example, “It is Thursday at 5 pm, and I feel accomplished” or “It is Friday, and I have zero regrets about my work week.” Read these out loud during your breaks. The more you read them, the more you’ll believe them. Once you believe, you will make better decisions that improve your happiness and relieve stress.


Sometimes, a smile is all it takes to break the tensions and minimise stress. If you find yourself stressed mid-afternoon pull our family or pet photos that make you smile or watch a funny video for a good laugh and mental break.

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