how to relieve stress

You know how some days at work just drive you crazy? The kind when nothing seems to go your way; when you feel like you’re getting nothing done; when your colleagues or your boss are being the opposite of nice, and when all you want to do is leave early and collapse on your couch in front of the TV?

Yeah, those days. Those days suck -- let’s just get that out of the way. And most of the time you can’t just leave and get to your couch because...you’re at work and you have a job to do. So here are 5 things you can do instead to help you deal with stress at work. They may not feel as comfy as your couch or get you as far away from your office frustrations as you would like, but they’ll help you get through the rest of the day with the least amount of swearing and hair-pulling:

Step. Away. Now. Whatever your job is, there’s got to be a way that you can step away from your desk or station for a few minutes. When you’re frustrated or stressing out, you won’t be productive anyway, and those feelings will continue to escalate if you don’t change your setting. If you can, go for a short walk -- when getting outside is not an option, take a spin around your office or work area. Or walk over and chat with a colleague (one that isn’t driving you nuts, preferably). Or stare at the goldfish in the aquarium (if your workplace has one). Anything works as long as you literally walk away from where you usually spend most of your workday.

Make a plan for a mini-break tonight. It would be nice if you could follow every bad day at work with a day at the spa, but that’s a fantasy-solution for most of us. Still, you can plan a mini-break at home when you get out of work. To start chilling out, actually write down what you plan to do. It could look something like this:

  • Change into my fave yoga pants and huge sweater
  • Make hot chocolate (the really good kind)
  • Chill on the couch for a half hour, reading magazines
  • If time, take a bath with those awesome-smelling bath salts.

Writing this down will make it more real, and anticipating this mini-break when you get home will help you have a more positive attitude for the rest of your workday.

Send an SOS message to a friend. Text or email a friend who always manages to make you feel good and tell them you’re about to lose it. Letting someone know how you’re feeling lets you release some of the stress and your friend will likely say something to make you feel even slightly better. Sometimes just getting validation that “Yes, I do think your boss is absolutely positively insane for doing that!” feels great.

Do something super nice for a colleague. You’ve heard that doing nice things for others is the fastest way to feel better. Well, if you haven’t heard, it’s true -- a lot of research supports it and Deepak Chopra says it’s the fastest way to feel happier. So when you’re about to lose it shift your focus entirely to doing something nice for a colleague. Bring them their favorite snack. Invite them out for coffee or bring them their usual beverage. Leave a funny note on their desk. You can do the tiniest thing, as long as you it will make them smile and you don’t expect anything in return.

Treat yourself to something tiny but awesome. Buying stuff isn’t going to remove work stress but treating yourself to a little something awesome will make you feel a little better. Here are some ideas for inexpensive sparkly things that help you smile. Baublebar has some really fun jewelry that won’t cost you a ton. Etsy is a fun place to browse for things like pretty journals or coffee mugs.