Top 3 Stress-Reducing, Productivity-Enhancing Techniques To Introduce To Your Workplace
Stress in the workplace is no joke. Staffing shortages, issues with shipping and logistics, pandemic lockdowns, rapid shifts in technology, long hours, and economic uncertainty are just a few of the challenges of the modern office.
Below, we’ll discuss three stress-reducing techniques that the author has found personally effective. The best part is, these techniques are easy to learn, can be used by anyone, and are absolutely free!
Of course, if your job (or lack of one) is causing you stress, you can use one of these professional resume makers to help you land your dream job.
Whether you are new to HR or you’ve been working in people operations and human resources for years, the following easy techniques can help increase workplace productivity and reduce stress on the job.
Box breathing is a form of controlled breathing. Do an online search and you’ll find a number of different methods.
One type of box breathing known as foursquare breathing is purportedly used by U.S. military special forces to help them remain calm and focused in stressful situations.
Box breathing is simple:
- Take a slow, deep breath, not stopping until you count from one to four.
- Hold your breath, again slowly counting to four.
- Exhale slowly while counting to four.
- Hold your breath again, abstaining from breathing in, until you count from one to four.
You can repeat this pattern as many times as you’d like.
When I first read about box breathing, I was skeptical, to say the least. But I’ve used it to combat emotions such as anger, frustration, panic, and just wanting to do anything but focus on my work. I was surprised at how quickly it took the edge off of negative emotions, usually by the time I get to step 3 of the first repetition. According to the Mayo Clinic, this happens because controlled breathing lowers your blood pressure.
The Pomodoro method or Pomodoro technique is a time management productivity hack. It involves splitting your day into 25-minute segments of work followed by 5-minute breaks. “The idea behind the technique is that the timer instills a sense of urgency. Rather than feeling like you have endless time in the workday to get things done and then ultimately squandering those precious work hours on distractions, you know you only have 25 minutes to make as much progress on a task as possible.”
According to, “The Pomodoro Technique was invented in the early 1990s by Francesco Cirillo, a developer and entrepreneur.” The term “pomodoro” is Italian for “tomato.” The name is derived from the tomato-shaped kitchen timer that Cirillo used.
You can use a kitchen timer like Cirillo, but I prefer an app that has the correct time intervals programmed for me.
Does it work? It does for me. When there’s too much work to get done in a day, sometimes I just feel like giving up and doing something else – I can’t take six more hours of this! But with the Pomodoro method, a break is never more than 25 minutes away. This helps me stay at my desk and stay productive, because I can always handle 25 more minutes, right?
If you’re using the Pomodoro technique, discussed above, consider using your 5-minute breaks to do a little stretching. This can reduce muscle tension and make you more comfortable at your desk. Stretching can also help you stay mobile for the long term. Be sure to wear clothes that allow you to stretch and move.
Here’s my favorite at-work stretching routine:
- Drop down into a deep squat, supporting yourself on your feet with the back of your thighs touching your calves. Hold for a few seconds.
- Drop to the floor and sit cross-legged.
- Extend your feet outward until they are touching, sole to sole. With your feet still touching, bring them towards your body as much as possible.
- Extend one leg so that the knee is straight and facing the ceiling. Place the sole of your other foot against the extended leg. Reach your arm to try and touch your toes. Make it a dynamic stretch by rocking your torso back and forth, extending your arm a little further each time.
- Repeat on the opposite side.
- With your leg still extended, bring your foot over it to the other side. Pull your knee towards your body.
- Repeat on the opposite side.
If stretching isn’t an option, consider taking a brief walk, playing with a hand-eye coordination toy such as a ball and paddle, or some other physical activity.
You can manage workplace stress through box breathing, the Pomodoro method, and stretching. Teach your whole team to improve workplace vibes!