Stress busters: A woman calmly colouring on a desk
Image: ABO PHOTOGRAPHY/Shutterstock

6 unusual stress busters that really work

8 May 2018

Feeling stressed? If counting to 10 just doesn’t do it for you, try these weird and wonderful stress busters to calm you down.

We’ve all been stressed in work at different times. As long as they’re not constant, stressful periods can be par for the course.

But stress can also be extremely counterproductive and sometimes damaging to our mental health, so we need to have coping mechanisms to help us deal with it.

We’ve all heard the conventional advice: go for a walk, get some fresh air, switch tasks or simply take three deep breaths and count to 10.

But these don’t always work for everyone and some stress busters often involve practising mindfulness, which is a skill in itself.

So, for those who can’t calm down by counting to 10, what should they do about their stress at work? We’ve compiled some unusual stress busters that might help you calm down and refocus your energy.

1. Perform a random act of kindness

While doing something nice for someone else for no reason is a good thing in general, studies show that carrying out an act of kindness for someone else reduces your own stress levels.

So, if you’re feeling stressed in work, consider heading out for that all-important walk with fresh air to clear your head, but maybe come back with a coffee for a colleague.

2. Take off your shoes

According to experts, walking around or sitting at your desk with your shoes off helps you relax and makes you feel more comfortable.

Additionally, having the soles of your feet exposed to more sensations can relieve internal tension. If appropriate, you might even take this opportunity to choose brighter, more playful socks.

3. Prepare for catastrophe

This may sound daunting and stress-inducing, especially when so many experts encourage you to stay away from negativity while stressed. However, a lot of stress over workloads and deadlines comes with internal thoughts repeating ‘I have to get this done’ over and over again.

Taking a minute to fully flesh out what will happen if you don’t get something done and formulating a plan to combat the absolute worse will help you manage your stress levels and keep you more focused.

4. Create a happy bank

Whether this is online or a physical entity, having a go-to place where you store things that genuinely cheer you up is a great way to relieve stress fast.

You can create a bookmark in your browser of anything you like, such as pictures of cute animals, some light reading or just a funny video, like the one that I use.

5. Go to a quiet place

This probably sounds more like something you’ve heard before but sometimes it’s harder to come by than you would think. A lot of us use music to help us focus and block out external noise, especially in a busy, open plan office.

Sometimes, though, complete silence will be the only thing that will lower your stress levels and help you focus on the task at hand. That means a quiet room or space by yourself with no noise or music – even if that means wearing your favourite noise-cancelling headphones with nothing playing.

6. Take a colouring break

Again, while colouring might sound like one of those mindfulness stress busters, it’s not one that you need to practise and it’s easy to execute at your desk for a few minutes.

With adult colouring books available almost everywhere you turn, it’s easy to pick one up along with some colouring pencils and simply leave them at your desk. Whenever you feel overwhelmed, set a timer for 10 minutes and colour. It’s a healthy, rhythmic distraction for your brain and helps to lower stress levels.

Jenny Darmody
By Jenny Darmody

Jenny Darmody became the editor of Silicon Republic in 2023, having worked as the deputy editor since February 2020. When she’s not writing about the science and tech industry, she’s writing short stories and attempting novels. She continuously buys more books than she can read in a lifetime and pretty stationery is her kryptonite. She also believes seagulls to be the root of all evil and her baking is the stuff of legends.

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