Wellness Work Series: Stress Reduction Tips

As a recovering workaholic, I can easily get sucked back into the grind and stress. If I haven’t completed my to-do list, I set my alarm to a painful early morning hour to finish up the project. My mind is in “rush mode” and body enjoys working in the flow. So I produce a lot in a short amount of time. Yet, in doing so, the heaviness of stress sits on my chest. For many years, I convinced myself that my type-A personality fueled my success. Yes, some stress motivates performance, though research shows continual long-term stress harms our health. So, as a part of the Wellness Work Series, I have outlined a few healthy stress reduction / stress management tips for busy individuals.

During my corporate working days, I was far from zen. I thought I was too busy for a bathroom break and over-scheduled my days so I always rushed from meeting to meeting to events to home. I blamed the constant stress pulling at my insides on my highly caffeinated beverages. I also fooled myself into believing that I needed several Diet Dr. Peppers and pretty coffee drinks to keep my energy high. I had too much to do and my solution was to find more time, by sleeping less.

Little did I realize how my “over-achieving” tools, were making me more stressed and sick. I made work my priority, figuring I could handle my own health because I went to the doctor. Yes, going to the doctor is important, but according to Harvard School of Public Health, how we treat our bodies daily helps keep its system functioning efficiently. It can also prevent chronic diseases and/or side effects related to them.

As a motivational speaker, an entrepreneur, a healthy lifestyle writer, an author, a content contributor, a mom, a wife (and the list goes on,) I currently play many roles professionally and YES, I sometimes fall into old habits. I also think about what it would be like if I went back to my old job. How would I handle the stress? How would I keep my stress level down, so that I could prioritize my health, while also producing for my employer? After much thought and research, here are the guidelines I would follow and share for those working parents, busy individuals and anyone who balances a multi-faceted life:

Wellness at Work Series: Stress Reduction Tips

1. Sleep 7-9 hours a night

I’ve never been much of a sleeper, but have been told by numerous doctors and read in publications that sleeping regularly will improve my overall well-being. I really challenged this because I could execute well on only a few hours regularly. However, I did this with tons of caffeine and adrenaline that have the ability to increase cortisol levels, which is toxic for tumor growth. Plus, the caffeine and adrenaline often made me crash or become lethargic. If I was sluggish at work, I noticed myself hiding in my office all day. If not, I’d actually get up more and walk around. Simply put, sleep is necessary for overall health. Plus, when you’re tired, you get crabby, annoyed and down-right stressed more easily.

2. Clear Mind to Refocus/Desk Meditation

We often start our day with a long list of to-dos and an inbox filled with emails. I’ve been told that taking a few minutes to set a daily intention helps prevent stress and increases focus. It shouldn’t be hard to create a quick morning affirmation that helps us think positivity for that moment and throughout the day. We can find a few moments at work to close the door and meditate in an office or sit still at a desk and concentrate on the breath for a few minutes. It’s been challenging for me to commit to regular meditation, though the overall well-being and health benefits including stress prevention should make it a daily necessity.

3. Practice Breathing Techniques

Believe it or not, we all have the tools to balance ourselves. While it seems easy to breathe, there are a few techniques (pranayama) that can be practiced to revitalize our bodies. Alternate nostril breathing can add peace to an afternoon. It’s also a distressing tool. I’ve tried this technique and found it calms me instantly.

4. Quick Exercise Breaks

When I was young, fun, single and living in NYC, I shared an office with a colleague who was a health enthusiast. Knowing that our lives were filled with long work hours, important networking happy hours and mandatory client dinners, we thought we didn’t have time to workout and be healthy. So what did we do – we did it in the office. We created our own “Water Wars” – we raced each other to see who would drink the most water in a day. The loser had to do 10-50 push ups every hour. We were onto something. Push ups led to squats and lunges, which also led to tight abs and quads.  The quick break also led us to let off some steam. There’s no reason why we can’t all take a few minutes, whether it’s at a gym, in our bosses office or outside in the parking lot. The point is – be creative in when, how and where we find a little time to de-stress through exercise.

5. Stress Management Office Tools

Do you love the beach? Keep one of those zen garden’s on your desk. Enjoy art? Buy an adult coloring book and put in your work bag. Love technology? Try playing a Happify game, using a Headspace meditation app or reading #SpritJunkie notes in your office.

6. Talk to Someone

Last but certainly not least, if you are stressed consider talking to someone. Whether it’s a friend, mentor, colleague, social worker or doctor, there are many resources out there to help work through day-to-day stress as well as any mental anguish. People want to hear and people want to help make your life better.

Any additional tips? What are your favorite stress reduction tips?


Stress Reduction Tool Ideas – Click image below to see our latest favorite tools for stress reduction.

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  1. Great tips! I need to try some breathing tips…my workplace is super noisy, sometimes I need to have some moments for myself! #sitsblogging

    • Caryn Sullivan

      I’m glad you enjoyed these tips. It is hard to make small changes at work but I do believe that it can really help to find time to take “breathing breaks” and slow down for a few moments.

  2. These are great tips. I couldn’t agree more!

    • Thanks Emily. I’m glad you enjoyed the Wellness Work Series – staying active at work tips. I really wish I could have one of those treadmill desks, but that’s not a reality. A girl can dream, though.

      • The treadmill desks are a pretty clever invention. I wonder if it’d be hard to concentrate, though.

        • I have to admit, I’ve used bungee cords to tie my computer to my elliptical…then read emails and went through some work stuff. This was before we all had smart phones so it has been a few years. But, to your point, it isn’t easy to concentrate while working out, so I would do the easy stuff. I guess if I had a treadmill desk I would probably walk leisurely during conference calls but in between meetings I would sprint a few minutes. Wow, this is fun to think about.

  3. I could use improvement in all of these areas! Thanks for summarizing these tips so well.

  4. When I was recovering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, I saw a specialist who taught me alternate nostril breathing. It helps so much with stress and anxiety… and now I encounter it frequently in yoga class.

    I have been wanting a standing desk. I don’t think I would blog as much if I had one lol.

    Even though I’m at home, I also need to schedule more time to exercise – it’s so important.

    Wonderful tips you’ve shared here! Thank you!
    Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom recently posted…10 Things Children Need to See Their Parents Doing

    • Thanks. I made my own standing desk from a well-positioned book shelf. Even when I was at my old corporate job, I found myself standing up when on conference calls. I think it helped me assert myself, though that wasn’t really my intension. I’m glad to hear that you like alternate nostril breathing, too. It took me a bit to overcome the awkwardness, but now it’s easy.

  5. Breathing techniques really do work! I use them all of the time. To calm down, de-stress or refocus when needed. Especially since my home is my office these days.

    Lately my exercise has been a little sporadic, but I have at least begun to take a sunset power walk more frequently and that really has made all of the difference for my mind and my body!
    Jen recently posted…A Discussion On Letting Go And Choosing What To Feed

    • Sunset power walks sound amazing. I can’t wait to do them hear on the beaches of the LI Sound. Have you read Gabby Bernstein’s “Miracles Now.” She explores a ton of easy to digest techniques, too. Happy Monday.

  6. The standing desk is something I am seriously considering getting… but it scares me! lol! Im afraid my feet will be tired all the time!! –
    Gingi recently posted…Let There Be Light! Adventures In First Time Home Owning

    • Oooh…Let me know if you get one. I use a well-positioned book shelf as a standing desk. I would love to try out a treadmill desk. I used to read emails while on my elliptical years ago. I guess that wasn’t so zen because I was multi-tasking, but I felt like I could still get some easy work done (reading trade publications) while being active.

  7. Be creative. OK, I’ve got this. Well, at least I am more ready now that I read this!
    Jen recently posted…5 Classic Disney Parties and How To Recreate Them

    • :) Thanks. I’ve found that knowing these de-stressing tips and doing them are two different things; like they say, “practice makes perfect ahem….progress.

  8. Wow, great post! Definitely some very helpful tips and advice or reducing stress, the quick exercise breaks idea is fantastic. Another great thing to consider would be medical or recreational marijuana, if you live in an area where it has been legalized. Thanks for sharing!

  9. I’m trying to get in shape until my second child is born (in January) and I’m looking at Power walking as an option. I’m no fan of sports, but I do enjoy walking in nature. But, and here is the problem, I live too far away to get out often enough. But I’m trying ;-)
    Emma recently posted…Indoor power walk

    • Do you have any malls, gardens or big indoor buildings nearby? It’s definitely not as scenic, but if I listen to an ebook or pandora meditation station, I can really enjoy an indoor walk.

  10. Inspirational tips. Thank you Caryn. As a mom to two small kids I do a lot of pick-ups and wiping off of the floor. Lately I have been squeezing in the exercise by doing a squat or a good stretch out of these. Noticed that my strength and flexibility are increasing. Sometimes I even look forward to having to pick up the next thing! Your post inspired for more ideas. Thank you.

    • Thanks for the kind words. The 7 min exercise app is my favorite. It’s super easy and the exercises actually help tone me in such short amount of time. Let me know if you try it. I LOVE it.

  11. Hi Caryn
    It’s easy for me to get into more caffeinine to stay revved up, instead of simply taking a break?

    I really appreciate each of the stress reduction tips, and now try to rely on them to de-stress. What I’ve found is stopping the madness for a few minutes during the morning and again in the afternoon and simply concentrating on my breathing for 5 minutes does wonders.

    Not only am I much more relaxed, but I am also more focused and productive. Noticably more, indeed! Thanks

    • Thanks for the kind words. I completely agree…taking a 5 min break can bring in an incredible amount of calm especially if it is outside.

  12. Just what I needed to know. Thank you for sharing this. I have problems focusing on my work. I tend to multi-task rather than focus one at a time, resulting in pending task to do which stresses me out. And definitely, a better sleep too. Anyways, great post!

    • Thanks so much Esther. I used to think multi-tasking made me better. I’ve completely changed my thinking and now try and focus on one task at a time. It doesn’t always work – but I do try hard.

  13. I find meditation for 10-15 minutes a day before starting the day helps me. Whenever I feel stressed out I do find that it coincides with periods where I have neglected that routine. I’ve heard of the pranayama alternate breathing exercise before but have taken it up. I’ll try it for a few weeks to see what difference it makes.
    Leo Tat recently posted…Is Soybean Oil Bad for Your Health? 21 Good Reasons to Avoid

  14. Hey Caryn, thanks a lot for sharing! I’m taking some of the tips into action ASAP.

    My personal fav is a short walk under the sun. It charges my batteries like nothing else. I try to meditate while walking by simply letting go of thoughts and observing the nature around me.

    Cheers and keep up the great work!

  15. Some people just need workout supplements to help them start the weighing down.

  16. Good sleep and quick exercise can really make a big difference. Working for too long can also be stressful so make sure you get enough rest. Investing on good ergonomic furniture will also be a good idea.

  17. This is the really good informative site for a beginner. anyone can easily find their appropriate site. I am looking such kind of site for my own necessity. I am just bookmarking this site on my browser. thank for giving opportunity. I am discussed about this site on my medical marijuana for sale.
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  18. Thanks a lot for sharing Caryn Sullivan! I’m taking some of the tips. Working for a long period of time is awful these tips definitively help people who are are searching tricks to calm and mentally relax.
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  19. Great Emily! Thanks for sharing such an informative and helpful post.

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