De – stress at your desk


D e – s t r e s s  a t  y o u r d e s k
By Jane Carstens

We could all use a break from work. Here’s how even the most stressed-out among us manage, without leaving the office.
Nature and Health magazine, March 2000.
© Nature and Health. Reproduced by Permission
Imagine this. Your phone is ringing incessantly, the office air conditioner is making your feet feel like ice blocks, and you’ve been sitting at your desk for three hours straight trying to finish an urgent report. Suddenly, you notice the scent of rose geranium as someone’s hands gently start kneading your shoulder blades….A fantasy? No-having a massage at work is a reality for an increasing number of Australian workers, as employers recognise the value of stress management.

According to Stephen Wayne-Smith from Important & Imperative Business Solutions (I&IBS), stress is like a virus-it can “infect” a whole office. “Have you ever seen a perfectly serene person starting a conversation with someone who is acutely stressed?” he asks. “Before long their actions and speech patterns become more frenetic and their breathing becomes more shallow and rapid, until the calm person has ‘matched’ the rhythm and speech of the stressed person.”

To help companies combat stress and its consequences, such as decreased productivity, I & IBS run stress management seminars and corporate massage services. They teach simple strategies, such as deep abdominal breathing and self massage, along with yoga, tai chi, stretching exercises, visualisation, aromatherapy and massage.

Different aromatherapy oils can be used in the office according to the type of stress present. If workers are tense and irritable, then lavender, marjoram or rose geranium have a calming effect. If they are over-tired, lemon, lime and basil help to create a stimulating atmosphere. “Japanese studies show that when lemon essential oil was used in an office, computer operators made 54 per cent fewer mistakes”, says Wayne-Smith. “Lemon stimulates the mind.”

Together massage and aromatherapy increase the body’s resistance to infection. According to Wayne-Smith, “Massage works on two levels-firstly through the physical manipulation of soft body tissue, and then through the positive healing energy that is exuded through the manipulation.” He provides two types of massage to his desk-bound clients: a 15 to 30 minute neck and shoulder massage, or a full massage in a separate room depending on the company’s preference.

And client feedback is very positive: “Often,they are not aware of how tense they are at their desk, or that they have been sitting in a fixed position in a bad environment.”