Stress is something we all experience at some point. It comes with having a job that demands attention and requires focusing on the tiniest of details. It’s easy to get lost in your own head and view the big picture as an enormous picture. Some people brag about their stress—they talk about what they have to accomplish, how little sleep they’re getting and so on.


But the side effects of stress can cause plenty of health problems, both physical and mental. Sleepless nights can lead to fatigue and burnout, as well as mood changes. Headaches, muscle tension and pain come along with racing thoughts. Smaller problems feel impossible to work through. “Being stuck in [a] stress-success cycle does not only keep us unhappy, but is dangerous to our health,” explains Dr. Romie Mushtaq—a Smart Meeting speaker alum—in her article, “Pause: Stop the Stress-Success Cycle.”

It’s no surprise that work is one of the largest causes of stress. In fact, a survey produced by the American Psychological Association found that 61 percent of respondents were overwhelmed by work.

So, it goes without saying that finding ways to relax is crucial. “When we pause, we shift our brains to a place of calm and feel back in control of a situation again,” says Dr. Romie in the article. With a busy work schedule, however, it can feel difficult to find time to de-stress. But you don’t need to meditate for an hour to reset your brain. In fact, there are multiple ways to calm yourself in 20 minutes or less. We’ve compiled a list of six ways to refresh.

  1. Take a cat nap. Experts estimate that a 10 to 20-minute nap is the perfect length for an energy boost. If you work from home, find a quiet space to curl up and snooze.
  2. Power-stride around. For those who can’t take a nap, a quick walk around the building can clear your mind. Next time a colleague needs a minute of your time, suggest a walk-and-talk.
  3. Eat a real lunch away from your desk. It’s tempting to sit in front of your desk and answer emails as you munch on a protein bar, but breaks are important. Pack healthy foods and find a spot away from the work hub.
  4. Meditate. Put on soothing music or sounds, close your eyes and think relaxing thoughts. When work creeps into your mind, push it out and focus on your breathing.
  5. Stretch. Roll your head, twist your wrists and crack your back. You can do all of these from the confines of your chair, but standing allows you to work the kinks out of your legs as well, giving a full body stretch.
  6. Massage yourself. Stress leads to muscle tension and soreness. There are plenty of guides online with instructions on how to best massage your aching out.