10 Powerful Stress Relaxation Techniques for the Workplace on Set
In our demanding industry, stress levels can be exceedingly high, so having stress relaxation techniques we can use in the workplace can be beneficial. Relaxation stress management techniques involve focusing your attention on something calming and increasing awareness of how your physical body feels.
Practicing mindfulness and living in the present moment also helps us relax.
According to the American Stress Institute, scientists have found the way you use your mind contributes to how much stress you experience and the time you spend living out of the present moment contributes to stress.
Focusing on past events or what may happen in the future causes a stress response, and scientists have found that the mind wanders 47% of the time. So adding mindfulness to our relaxation techniques gives us even more benefits.
Workplace stress harms our mental and physical health, and we’re confronted with stressful situations daily in our work environment on set. Heart disease can be one unfortunate result of workplace stress.
Our excessively long work hours also contribute to work-related stress. It’s often difficult to have a healthy lifestyle and high quality of life with the long hours we work.
The Benefits of Relaxation Techniques
According to the Mayo Clinic, relaxation exercises can have many benefits. The health benefits of relaxation include:
- Slowing the heart rate
- Lowering high blood pressure
- Slowing breathing rate
- Improving digestion
- Controlling blood sugar levels
- Reducing the activity of stress hormones
- Increasing blood flow to major muscles
- Reducing muscle tension and chronic pain
- Improving focus and mood
- Improving sleep quality
- Lowering fatigue
- Reducing anger and frustration
- Boosting confidence to handle problems
Since relaxation techniques can have so many benefits and reduce work stress, we should all make a conscious effort to use them as often as possible for stress relief, both on and off set.
Different Relaxation Techniques
Here are ten different types of simple relaxation techniques we can use in the workplace on and off set:
1. Deep Breathing Exercises
Taking deep breaths for stress reduction is a favorite relaxation technique of mine because it’s one of the easy ways to relax on set. While it’s helpful to sit, you can practice deep breathing while standing, as I’ve done many times at work, even while wearing a mask.
Breathe in deeply through your nose and exhale through your mouth. I try to spend a few minutes doing deep breathing to increase the supply of oxygen when I have feelings of stress, but even consciously taking a few deep breaths helps me relax.
According to Cell Reports Medicine, a type of deep breathing known as cyclic sighing was found to be most effective at relieving stress and anxiety. Cyclic sighing involves breathing in part way, pausing, then breathing in fully, and then doing a long exhale through the mouth. It's easily done at work or any other time you're feeling stressed or anxious.
Practice breathing deeply when you feel stressed, and you’ll feel your body slowly start to relax.
2. Progressive Muscle Relaxation
This relaxation technique involves tensing and releasing different muscle groups throughout your body to release physical tension. If you practice yoga, you may have experienced guided body scan meditation meant to relax tense muscles toward the end of class.
Start at your toes and tense your muscles for about five seconds then release. Move up your legs to your abdominal muscles. Then move up your body, mindfully tensing and releasing each muscle group in your entire body, including your facial muscles. It’s a great way to release muscle tension.
This relaxation technique is best done in a quiet place while you’re lying down, but I’ve performed it in a chair at work. I’ve found it’s one of the best ways to release tense muscles in my neck, shoulders, and upper back.
The visualization relaxation technique is about using calming imagery to relieve symptoms of stress. For best results, sit in a quiet spot and, visualize your happy place, a calm peaceful place you’d like to be.
Be in the present moment and involve all your senses. Imagine the sounds, the smells, the feel of warm or cool air on your skin.
The best part is that, unlike your workday and to-do lists, you have complete control over the imagery you visualize. It’s whatever you want it to be.
You can listen to soothing music while you visualize or use an app to guide you through your visualization.
4. Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness meditation is a type of meditation where you stay focused in the present moment, and it can be a powerful reliever of everyday stress. Meditation is about releasing thoughts and focusing on the breath, something I’ve done daily for decades.
It’s one of the most positive coping methods for dealing with chronic stress, and you’ll probably experience a positive impact in every area of your life with mindfulness meditation.
The relaxed state you feel after meditation will help you feel more relaxed for the rest of the day. It’s best done in the morning before you go to work, although there’s no harm in doing a second meditation in the evening, especially after a long day’s work in our demanding industry.
Doing some simple stretches at work throughout the day can contribute to your physical and mental health. Long-term stress makes our muscles tense and doing some upper and lower body stretches a few times a day can help us relax and raise our energy levels.
Stretching at home before you leave for work can also provide a good start to your workday.
6. Take a Break Outside
Yes, in our industry we often find ourselves working outside, but other times we’re stuck on set indoors all day. Going outside for some fresh air for a few minutes can help us relax.
Try to clear your head, put down your phone, and be in the present moment for a while before you go back inside.
7. Listen to Some Calming Music
Driving to work provides a great opportunity to listen to calming music before we start the hard work of the day. If I can, I listen to music on my lunch break, too. Listening to calming music is a quick and simple way to help our minds and bodies relax.
Music streaming services have various calming music playlists, or you can create your own.
8. Have a Healthy Snack
We often feel stressed and anxious when we’re hungry, so a small snack can give us the extra boost we need to get through the day. Beware of eating unhealthy snacks at the craft service table that are loaded with sugar and have little nutritional value, though. The initial sugar rush fades fast, and you may end up feeling worse than before.
I always carry a protein bar in my bag, so I’m not tempted to eat junk food when I need a snack on set.
Be sure to drink enough water, too. We often consume more caffeine at work than we should due to the long hours we work. Caffeine can increase our stress response, make us feel jittery, and make it hard to fall asleep.
It’s best to drink mostly water at work.
9. Exercise Regularly
Although many of our jobs on set are physical, it’s not the same as getting regular exercise outside of work.
Practicing a sport or other physical activity you enjoy can reduce stress and help you relax. Exercise with rhythmic, repetitive movements such as running, walking, and swimming, lets your mind get into the flow and relax.
Yoga is also a valuable tool for stress reduction and the Shavasana or ‘corpse pose’ at the end of most yoga classes is the ultimate relaxation. Since most types of yoga combine stretching postures with deep breathing, yoga is widely practiced for stress reduction and relaxation by many in our industry.
10. Have a Support System
We all need a social support system outside of work. Scientific research has shown that those of us who lack strong social bonds are less happy, more stressed and unhealthy, and don’t live as long.
In our industry, it can be difficult finding the time to nurture relationships, but it’s crucial to our physical and mental health that we do so. Being around caring, supportive friends and family helps us relax and stay healthy, so build and nurture your support system.
The stress we often experience working on set can feel overwhelming at times, but there are relaxation techniques at our disposal to help us relax and de-stress. There’s even a National Relaxation Day every August 15th, in case you need a reminder of the benefits of relaxation techniques.
The human body isn’t meant to experience constant stress as it takes a toll on our physical, mental, and emotional health, as well as our personal life.
Everyday life can be challenging enough without the added burden of a stressful workplace, so it’s worthwhile to make time to practice relaxation techniques in the workplace and at home.