From deadlines to demanding targets, it’s common to find yourself feeling overwhelmed with stress while at work. According to the American Psychology Association, work-related stress can lead to difficulties in concentrating, headaches, stomach problems, sleep disorders and high tempers.

Chronic stress at work, on the other hand, can cause high blood pressure, insomnia, anxiety and a weakening of the immune system. Luckily there are things you can do to mitigate stress. These include physical and mental exercises you can easily do while sitting right at your desk.

Try these five exercises to reduce your stress levels while sitting down:


Yes, meditate. There’s no need for cushions or incense. In fact, it’s as simple as taking a few moments to close your eyes and focus on your breathing, while being conscious of the present moment. This can do wonders in helping you recentre your mind.

Ear massage

It may sound a tad bizarre, but ear massage is a trusted stress-relieving and energy-boosting Chinese technique. By gently massaging the Shen Men point or “The Gate to Heaven” – the middle point of your upper ear – while breathing deeply and looking left as you inhale and right as you exhale, you can greatly reduce feelings of stress.

Breathing techniques

Simple breathing exercises can restore calm to your system. While sitting upright at your desk, placing one hand on your belly and the other on your stomach. Breathe in deeply through your nose. Let the air fill your stomach while feeling it rise and breath out through your nose. After a few moments, you’ll start to feel more relaxed.

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Progressive muscle relaxation

If you’re feeling tense, you can try progressive muscle relaxation which both calms the mind and relaxes the body and relieves tension. Starting with your toes and working your way up, contract a group of muscles in your body while inhaling, holding your breath for five to 10 seconds, and then relaxing them as you exhale. You can relax for roughly 20 seconds before moving on to the next muscle group, while focusing on the sensations you feel as you do the exercise.

Clear your desk

Your workspace may also contribute to how you feel – research has shown that clutter is likely to affect your productivity and motivation. Make time to clear your workspace of any unwanted clutter to create a cleaner environment that can help you think more clearly.