How to Create a Stress Relief Kit for Your Desk

Sometimes, you’re just too stubborn.

And by “you,” I mean “you, and me, and everyone else.”

You see, I can tell you about all the bad things stress does to your body. I can tell you that you need to take a break, take up a hobby, or start doing yoga to chill out before stress gets the better of you.

But the simple fact is, you’re stubborn. We all are. We’re convinced that the office will fall apart if we step away for ten minutes. We’ll argue that we’d really like to get away from the desk now and then, but there’s just no time.

We stay glued to our computers, and we keep letting the stress build up. Eventually, it can seriously affect work performance, or lead to complete burnout.

So today I’m bringing the stress reliever to you, at your desk, right now. Well, not right now, since it will require a little legwork from you, but you get the idea.

What’s a Stress Relief Kit?

Just as the name sounds, this is a kit that contains items to help you relieve stress and anxiety. Remember what I said earlier about requiring a little legwork? That’s because you’re going to create this kit yourself.

Fill it with things that put you in a calm, happy state of mind. Small items that either give you pleasure (like flavors or aromas) or give you something to do. And, most importantly, things that are small enough to fit on your desk or in a drawer, so you can keep them close at hand while you’re working.

What Should I Put In It?

It will depend on your likes and preferences. Everyone’s stress relief kit will be different. But here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • A zen garden can help give you a couple minutes of peace.Herbal tea. According to the Integrative Medicine department at UCLA, herbal teas may help reduce stress and anxiety. Varieties such as chamomile, mint, and passionflower are excellent teas to start with. (MOM VOICE: You may be tempted to take a shortcut with herbal supplements. These supplements, commonly sold in pill or tea form, are touted as stress busters or miracle cures for a range of conditions. But some herbs can interact with each other or with prescription drugs to cause side effects. If you’re venturing beyond chamomile or mint, it’s a good idea to check with your doctor to be on the safe side. END MOM VOICE.)
  • Candles, lotions, other pleasant scents. While the verdict is still out on aromatherapy’s actual health benefits (or lack of same), a pleasant scent can help calm you. This is especially true if the scent is attached to a pleasant memory. Just go easy with this one if you work outside of your home, though — coworkers might not find the scent as appealing as you do.
  • Dark chocolate. A study published in the Journal of Proteome Research found that eating an ounce and a half of dark chocolate every day reduced the amount of stress hormones in highly stressed people. With other benefits like lowering your blood pressure, dark chocolate is a great addition to your anti-stress kit. Sorry, milk chocolate lovers — the benefits were only associated with the dark stuff.
  • Gum or a stress ball. I know, those things don’t sound like they should go together, but go with me here: Have you ever been in a meeting or on a business call, and had an urge to move so intense that you were convinced you could climb the walls? Getting up and moving around can help take your mind off stress, but that’s not always possible in the office. Chewing gum or squeezing a stress ball (or a stuffed My Little Pony — I’m not here to judge) can provide just enough of a physical outlet to keep those angsty feelings at bay. If you tend to fidget a lot, this may give you some relief.
  • A zen garden. Look, I’m the least New Age-y person you’ll meet, but I love zen gardens. A desktop-sized version can give you a couple minutes of diversion when you need it most. In between stressful tasks, take a minute or two to rearrange your stones or rake the sand. It’s also a very low-mental-intensity task, so you can use it while you’re working, just like the stress ball.

And there you have it: a kit full of items small enough to fit in or on your desk, to help you get through the day with a little less tension.

Like this idea? Please leave a comment and reveal the contents of your own stress kit!

Hate this idea? Feel free to say so — and tell the class how you relieve stress at work!



How to Create a Stress Relief Kit for Your Desk — 4 Comments

  1. I’ve got everything above at my desk with the exception of the zen garden… what a cool idea! (Puts ‘zen garden’ on shopping list for weekend trip…)

    I also have one of those ‘V’ shaped hand strength exercise thingies – and I’ve replaced my short little phone handset cord with a six-footer. Talk about room to move!

    And, as if all this wasn’t enough (which it isn’t in the insurance support industry), my chair is about 10′ from the door. When stress levels rise meteorically, I walk away. Literally. I office in a nice little cottage-style complex and I go outside and take a walk among the hickory and oak trees. Works miracles!

    • I *love* zen gardens. I think it comes from my complete inability to keep plants alive, therefore putting *real* gardens completely out, haha!

      Sounds like you’ve got a great setup! I work from my house, and I live in the middle of nowhere, so my backyard is always just a few steps away…and I can take a walk to the nearby pond if I need a little stronger dose of sanity. 😉

      Thanks for visiting! 😀

  2. I need a Zen Garden like I need chocolate and air. But as I work out of my kitchen and I have ankle biters running around, biting ankles, if they see sand they’re going to need to dig in it like THEY need air… which might ultimately cause more stress…. but still…. Zennnnnnnn Gardennnnnnnnnnn.

    Speaking of plants… how is old Fred anyway?

    • Hehe, yeah, if I had little ones I probably wouldn’t keep a zen garden either. 😉

      And Fred…er…*cough* Fred went to the big jade plant garden in the sky, just about a year ago. He lasted way longer than I thought he would, tough guy that he was…

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