7 Easy Ways to Relax on the Job (without Getting Fired)


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  101 comments   :  48,052 Views

Your boss just dropped another project on your desk. Your co-worker spends more time at the water cooler than at his desk. The phone won't stop ringing, your email inbox is so full it's about to burst, and you've got a meeting with a client in an hour.

Yep, you're stressed.

So how can you present your most cool, calm and collected self and accomplish all the tasks you have to do today?

Take a breather, and try a few minutes of yoga.

Most of us can't unroll a yoga mat and drop into down dog at the office, but that doesn't mean we can't take time for a bit of relaxing and energizing stretches. (Note: These poses are also appropriate for people with mobility issues.)

The next time you need to chill out, try some or all of these poses:

Neck rolls

Begin by sitting up straight in a chair.

Gaze up to the ceiling, keeping your neck long. Then bring your left ear down towards your left shoulder and hold. Roll your head down towards the ground and bring your chin to your chest. Hold and finally, roll your head to the right and bring that ear to your right shoulder. Inhale and exhale through the nose in a slow and controlled manner. Repeat twice.

For a deeper stretch, extend the opposite arm down towards the ground and hold. You should be relaxing your neck muscles and using the weight of your head for this stretch. Do not attempt to force your head lower with your neck muscles or your hands. Stop immediately if you feel any discomfort.

Repeat five times on each side, taking long, slow and even breaths through the nose.

Mountain pose

Begin by sitting up straight in a chair.

Roll your shoulder blades back and down, arms relaxed at your sides. Pull your bellybutton in to your spine to engage your abs, and keep your feet flat on the floor, if possible.

Inhale through the nose and raise your arms overhead. Keep your arms shoulder width apart, and relax your shoulders. If you feel your shoulders creep up around your ears, relax them. Keep the belly strong, and gaze in between your hands, to the ceiling. Stay here for five breaths.

Alternative: After raising your arms, interlace your fingers, and press your palms toward the ceiling. Relax your shoulder blades. Remain for five breaths, with your gaze up to your palms.

Cat/cow stretch

Begin by sitting up straight in a chair.

Roll your shoulder blades back and down, arms relaxed at your sides. Pull your bellybutton in to your spine to engage your abs, and keep your feet flat on the floor, if possible.

As you inhale, arch your back and look up toward the ceiling. Lift the chin and allow your arms to relax next to you.

As you exhale, round your spine and let your head drop forward. Tuck the chin and allow your shoulders to roll.

Repeat five times.

Seated forward fold

Begin by sitting up straight in a chair.

Roll your shoulder blades back and down, arms relaxed at your sides. Pull your bellybutton in to your spine to engage your abs, and keep your feet flat on the floor, if possible.

Spread your legs slightly wider than hip's distance apart.

Exhale and round your back, slowly lowering your chest in between your legs. Place your hands flat on the floor (see photo above) or grab opposite elbow with each hand (see photo below). Allow your shoulders to relax and round.

Stay here for five breaths. Inhale and slowly roll up, allowing your head to be the last part of your body to lift. Relax the shoulders back and down.

Eagle arms

This is my favorite arm stretch. It stretches in between the shoulder blades, which is an area that gets really tense if you spend all day on the computer.

Begin by sitting up straight in a chair.

Roll your shoulder blades back and down, arms relaxed at your sides. Pull your bellybutton in to your spine to engage your abs, and keep your feet flat on the floor, if possible.

Begin by extending your arms out in front of you at 90-degree angles. Then place your right arm under your left and press the backs of your palms together. (If your arms and shoulders are tight, you might not to get your arms as close as mine are in the photo. That's OK. You'll still feel this stretch.)

Inhale sit tall, then exhale and tuck your chin to your chest to stretch the back of the neck. Hold the pose for five breaths, then switch arms and stay another five breaths.

Head to chair pose

Sit on the floor in front of your chair with your legs extended in front of you, under the chair. Pull your belly in to your spine to engage your abs and flex your feet to engage your legs. Place your arms on the chair and round your back. (If your chair is open at the back, place your forehead on the chair.) Allow your chin to drop toward your chest and relax your shoulders.

Stay here for five to 10 breaths, then slow roll your chin and chest up.

Forward Fold with a Chair

Begin by standing about an arm's length away from a chair. Your feet should be directly under your hips; your shoulders should be back and down, with your abs engaged. Inhale and reach for the chair, allowing your body to roll down. Bend your knees slightly to prevent locking them, and allow the head to hang. Stay for five breaths, then roll up slowly.

If you liked these poses, you should try:

Have you tried any of these stretches? Do you like them? How do you relax when you get stressed on the job?

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  • 101
    Thank you! - 1/7/2018   9:40:56 PM
  • 100
    These are great ideas. - 12/2/2017   11:48:09 PM
  • 99
    If I did some of these at work, they would call 911! - 1/22/2017   4:16:40 AM
    ohhh!!! This really helped A LOT!!! I am a 4-H Agent and am usually on my feet in the classrooms of our county's schools doing 4-H Club meetings, but during this time of year I am seated a lot at my desk. Not being used to a "desk job" for long periods of time, I tend to have bad posture and end up hurting in my back because of this. I tried your stretches and they really work! I have bookmarked it on my computer screen so I can do them often! Thanks a bunch!!! - 5/21/2014   4:04:04 PM
  • PATTIE441
    This is just what was looking for! Thank you so much! Feel much better! - 5/14/2011   11:49:35 AM
  • 96
    These are great, I will try to do these on a daily basis - 4/4/2011   1:52:30 PM
    My body feels so much better after doing these. I have fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis and back problems plus other things that slow me down. I spend a lot of time at home and a lot of time at the computer. I think that exercises like these will be really good for me. I am glad that I came across them. I just joined the One Minute Yoga team to get back into a yoga zone. I used do a bit of yoga and lately have not been doing more than a bit of stretching with some yoga poses. But, my schedule is so off with getting sick a lot that I slack off. So, little challenges like OMY and articles like these are excellent for me!!! Thank you!!! - 4/3/2011   5:01:52 AM
    These are awesome! I just started a yoga class at the school where I work and I recognize a lot of these poses and being able to do them during my planning period and before and after school will help with the stress. Thanks so much for your generosity and sharing! - 11/24/2010   5:13:24 AM
    Thank you! This article is great! I've been trying some throughout the afternoon. - 11/8/2010   2:30:29 PM
  • 92
    Great ideas for relaxing and stretching during a stressful day! I can't wait to try them. I think I will try to print a copy as a cheat sheet. Thank you! - 3/1/2010   1:03:19 AM
  • 91
    These are great, I will definately try them. By the end of my work day my shoulders are tight and my neck hurts. This should help out a lot. Thanks. - 2/20/2010   5:30:33 PM
  • 90
    I just did these exercises and I enjoyed doing them. I am going to save this page so that I can start to do these exercises during my planning period. - 2/8/2010   12:34:17 PM
    These are great, but I also think I'll have to pass on the floor poses. Maybe I can do them at home, where I know the floors have been cleaned well.

    I think this would be a good one for the break room! - 2/6/2010   4:17:23 PM
  • 88
    Thanks!!! - 1/31/2010   12:59:28 PM
  • 87
    I worked as a NURSE, so I'd never had time for this, except maybe in the "break room" but I hardly ever got to go there! - 1/31/2010   12:17:35 AM
    The floors in my office are filthy, so I wouldn't do anything that required getting down on the floor, but the eagle arms looks useful for sure! - 1/29/2010   9:33:11 PM
  • 85
    I feel good - 1/29/2010   8:04:22 PM
  • 84
    great tips... - 1/29/2010   5:40:03 PM
    great tips..
    - 1/29/2010   11:18:27 AM
  • 82
    I love this.I am on my feet all day so doing these when I get home. - 1/28/2010   3:39:54 PM
  • 81
    Good to see I'm not the only one who uses the Neck Roll and the Mountain Pose! I use these daily!! - 1/27/2010   11:32:24 PM
  • 80
    Great ideas! When my coworkers and I need to de-stress, we put on the local dance station and bust a move to a good song. - 1/27/2010   9:37:24 PM
  • 79
    Wow... My shoulders feel so much better! I'm printing these and hiding them inside my cabinet... great way to take a break from the screen. There were a couple that I couldn't do because of my rolling chair, but overall this was great! - 1/27/2010   1:27:23 PM
  • 78
    These were great. I feel much better already! Thank you! - 1/27/2010   12:27:50 AM
  • 77
    I think I'd get some strange looks if I tried the head to chair pose at the office, but the others will be helpful! - 1/27/2010   12:06:35 AM
  • 76
    These look great. I might print them out to post in the break room for everybody to try! - 1/26/2010   10:57:02 PM
  • 75
    Thanks Stef, I saved this to my favorites and will try to print when I get to work so I can post by my desk for 1. a reminder and 2. to spark whomever comes by being noisy and they will! LOL.
    Frances - 1/26/2010   8:34:56 PM
    When I was working, either I would grab someone or they would grab me and we would power walk for 20 minutes - a mile-long course we could do either indoors or outdoors. I also used to walk during my one-on-ones with my associates. - 1/26/2010   6:09:52 PM
  • 73
    WOW!! these really make me feel good, it relaxes my very stiff and painful muscles. I can't way to trying while flying of course everyone on the plane may think I have lost my mind but at least I'll be feeling good.
    I have got to try the other two yoga. - 1/26/2010   4:51:13 PM
  • 72
    These Yoga poses that you can do from your chair and not on the floor are really helpful. Thanks! - 1/26/2010   4:43:02 PM
  • 71
    This was just what I needed this afternoon. Thanks! - 1/26/2010   2:33:31 PM
  • M-LEEA
    Wow! Thank you! These felt so good! - 1/26/2010   2:23:43 PM
  • 69
    I did the neck rolls - what a major stress reliever. I am going to try the others when I have a chance. Great information! - 1/26/2010   2:20:13 PM
  • DBISSON0424
    this was relaxing and awakening for me. - 1/26/2010   2:13:27 PM
  • 67
    I did the eagle arm and the neckroll. Feel a little silly doing the rest of them in my cubicle! The eagle arm was just what I needed. I'm definitely going to be using that one a lot! Thanks!!

    Oh, and it would have been a little more realistic if you were wearing office attire and had a rolling chair, and about 1 foot of space in all directions to move around in, and co-workers silently judging you from where they sit typing and can see you. ;) - 1/26/2010   1:34:54 PM
  • 66
    Love these exercses for work since I sit in front of a computer all day. I also went to my first Yoga class on Sunday and LOVED it! I did not realize it would as challenging as it was. I will definitely continue and will use these exercises! - 1/26/2010   1:12:04 PM
  • 65
    These are so great! I don't care if people think I'm crazy! I am sooo doing these! - 1/26/2010   12:56:30 PM
  • 64
    These are great. Some of them would also be great to use during a long driving trip! - 1/26/2010   12:19:46 PM
  • 63
    These are great!! Love the Eagle Arms!! Definitely a keeper to keep me moving and stretched throughout the day!!

    Thanks!! - 1/26/2010   12:11:14 PM
    I am SO saving this article! Thanks! - 1/26/2010   12:07:55 PM
  • 61
    I did the neck rolls and seated forward fold, but I was afraid my co-workers would think I was crazy trying some of the others - I think I' m going to print and post some of the pictures to use on those "stressful" days. - 1/26/2010   11:58:49 AM
  • 60
    I love that Eagle Arm stretch that stretches between the shoulder blades. That felt so good. thanks - 1/26/2010   11:54:46 AM
  • 59
    These are great and I'm going to incorporate these in my daily living. - 1/26/2010   11:22:25 AM
  • 58
    I definately needed this . . . to help deal with a co-worker! Thanks! - 1/26/2010   11:20:54 AM
  • 57
    To Auntiepom
    I have fused disks (L4-L5) as well and while there are some yoga positions I cannot do, I can do these ones. Have you asked your Dr whether or not you are able to do any yoga? I say that because I was afraid to do yoga assuming that it would be bad for my spine until I actually tried some. I find that I am able to do a lot more than I had thought and it helps to strengthen my core. Best of luck to you! - 1/26/2010   11:09:33 AM
    That is totally awesome! Thank for sharing these, i never get a break to leave the office this is great! - 1/26/2010   11:04:36 AM
    While these do look really wonderful, I have a fused lower back and would be unable to do most of them. Does anyone have any ideas for stretches that can be done with a compromised spine? Thanks for your help! - 1/26/2010   10:42:20 AM
  • 54
    I am going to try these today, I tried printing them to share them at work and it cut the exercise picture in half and put it on the next line, lol. I will bring it up again later and give it another go - hope my day isn't going to go like this! - 1/26/2010   10:37:27 AM
  • 53
    Very cool. I spend so much time in a chair (even tho I'm a writer and work at home), that if I can combine the concepts of "chair" and "exercise" it would be great. (I think of stretches and yoga as exercise, even tho they aren't cardio, they are engaging the body.) I'm also going to try to remember to try these next time I'm on a long airplane ride - I think at least a few of these will work. - 1/26/2010   10:34:01 AM
  • 52
    These are perfect and I plan on trying them out this afternoon! I sit at a desk from 7am to 4pm and usually have my lunch at my desk as well. I need to start using my breaks and getting up and walk around! - 1/26/2010   10:33:53 AM

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