Fittest Loser At Work Challenge: De-stress

Getting in shape at work can involve more than eating healthy and exercising. Reducing your stress and taking a break from today's nonstop deluge of digital contact is also key.

A new study by researchers at Harvard and Stanford has quantified just how much a stressful workplace may be shaving off Americans' life spans. It suggests that the amount of life lost to stress ranges up to nearly three years of life lost for some groups.

Not coping with stress can lead to weight gain. Why? Because stress releases a flood of chemicals, including adrenaline, into our bodies. Once the adrenaline wears off, our body is triggered to start replenishing its food supply.

Who among us hasn't been surprised at work when you reach for another potato chip or cookie, only to realize you mindlessly ate the entire bag?

So what can you do? Take more breaks. And not just a break walking to the vending machine. Take a mindful break.

One simple way to do that is to push your chair back and take some deep breaths. Try inhaling and exhaling slowly while counting to four.

If you take more time, find a quiet place and practice deep breathing, experts from Harvard recommend. Breathe in slowly through your nose, allowing your chest and lower belly to rise as you fill your lungs. Let your abdomen expand fully. Now breathe out slowly through your mouth (or your nose, if that feels more natural)

Studies show that just 5 minutes of breathing exercises can de-stress you.

Or, if you want to use tech to take a break from tech, you might try a meditation app. There are several out there. I use the buddhify app. The app offers more than 80 guided meditations of varying lengths. You just pick what you're doing and need to take a break from, plus a time frame, and the app talks you into relaxation.

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