How To Relieve Stress In Corporatica: 5 Old And 11 New Effective Ways

Brainstorming Stress-Busters Outside The Beaten Box

How To Relieve Stress: Historic Dealings With The Not-So-Silent Killer

Stress – that slow poison which creeps up on you with all the silent subtlety of a decked-up elephant trumpeting the “Stars and Stripes Forever” in your backyard.

That quicksand-like abyss where productivity goes to take a snooze, forgets to set an alarm, and never wakes up again.

That virus where the affected shuffle around with wide, unblinking, freaked-out eyes, punctuated by loud bursts of frustrated rage, transmitting across to every person who comes in contact with them – so, basically, like every other zombie bug.

Mark those who seem more stressed out than others as weak, and advance only those who display superhuman resistances

Over the last century, the corporate world – or Corporatica as it shall affectionately be called – understood that offices, essentially part-time prisons where people are forced into cramped spaces with other strangers, were cesspools of stress and friction.

And what was their very first response? Do nothing – mark those who seem more stressed out than others as weak, and advance only those who display superhuman resistances to stress, guns, poisons, and moral compasses.

Which, unfair as it was, seemed to work just fine in a time where office environments were still settling in with all the complexity of an 18-month old’s epiphany that the sand in the box is there to play with, and not chomp down like handfuls of gravel candy.

However, office environments gradually evolved into an atmosphere which was drastically different from workspaces found even half a century ago – with more layers to their structure and politics than an abominable pastry made by a psychotic chef with a gastronomical messiah complex.

And, as Corporatica realized with time, stress was everywhere.

How To Relieve Stress

From the lowest janitors and lunch staff to the highest echelons of Corporatican society, stress seemed to be rampantly generating and spreading around with all the speed of an STD on steroids.

So, what was their next response in the question of how to relieve stress? They hired departments of corporate counselors or recommended psychiatrists for staff with stress issues.

And when that proved to be largely ineffective, since stress was an everyday occurrence and not a timely event which could be knocked out on a weekly schedule like marital sex, nor was it a sign of mental weakness or incapability which needed to be addressed and rectified – Corporatica gradually moved towards newer and more innovative methods of dealing with this rampant toxin of the soul.

These included executive fitness centers, in-house basketball courts, game rooms, spas and other such features in office complexes – the sheer grating banality of which prevents me from discussing them in any further detail.

Contemporary Innovations

How To Relieve Stress Through Food Fiestas

The first wave of innovative thinking came in the 80s and 90s when, backed by pseudo-scientific evidence, offices started hosting random food parties, Margarita Fridays, and their ilk.

The essential principle behind this approach to how to relieve stress rose from the fact that regulated socializing in office environments, alongwith good food and booze, served as a great way to reduce friction and ease down on personnel-related stress factors.

How To Relieve Stress

It promoted bonding, and created an environment where employees could forge happy memories that would make tougher times easier to digest.

What a shocker, right? Well, atleast for people who had never heard of Vikings and their drinking halls, Romans and their food orgies, and pretty much every civilization that believed that hobnobbing with your neighbors would make them far less likely to gut you in your underpants in the middle of the night. 

Good food and booze, serves as a great way to reduce friction

However, this method worked a little too well, and led to grander waistlines and far too many cirrhosed livers before the health trend at the turn of the millenium made this unacceptable for Corporatica.

And with the switch to healthier foods, for a generation used to meats, cheese platters, and booze at office gatherings, came the return of the crabby crew. It would take quite a few years, intensive advertising of “healthy foods”, and the involvement of a generation which regarded the word “organic” with far less of a stink-eye, for food fiestas and pot luck office lunches to become an effective stress-buster again.

How To Relieve Stress Through Nap Rooms

In more recent times, another innovation in how to relieve stress resulted out of  the groundbreaking realization that hard-working employees have lives outside of office as well, and juggling multiple responsibilities leads to fatigue-related stress, which reduces productivity.

Wow, this one must have been a doozy to come up with – All hail the great minds that needed a committee meeting to come up with this pioneering thought.

How To Relieve Stress

Either way, the result of this chain of thought was the corporate nap room, or the “rejuvenation chamber” in Nob Corporatese. And for all its obvious faults, it worked beautifully as a stress-buster.

The “15-minute power nap” has become the new all-spice of stress-busters

Backed up by scientific evidence, the “15-minute power nap” has become the new all-spice of stress-busters – first espoused by Japanese companies, and then becoming a brick-and-mortar addition to every tech startup and half the conglomerate headquarters across the world. 

How To Relieve Stress Through Anger/Rage Rooms

While they didn’t start off as corporate stress-busters, these businesses quickly picked up regular clientele from Corporatica with their innovative approach to the age-old question of how to relieve stress.

how to relieve stress

Turning the adage “it’s better to be constructive, than destructive” on its head – they based their stress-busting model on the simple fact that breaking stuff around a room is a cathartic experience unmatched by much else.

And so, for fees ranging from $5-$20 for one “room”, they designed custom “office cubicles” or “living rooms”, and then provided their clients with baseball bats and other implements which could then be used to re-enact Hulk’s journey through a china shop while using a bull as a fly-swatter. 

How To Relieve Stress Through Cat Cafés

By now, most people are already familiar with the concept of therapeutic pets – especially in treatment of anxiety management disorders. The concept of nurturing bonds with affectionate animals to drive away stress in patients is one which has been rigorously tested and implemented in psychiatric practices.

However, what about people who can’t keep pets in metropolitan apartments which are already more stretched to capacity than a Sumo wrestler’s loincloth?

How To Relieve Stress

It’s to answer the question of how to relieve stress in response to the needs of that burgeoning demographic that café owners, starting unsurprisingly from Japan and later spreading to all corners of the globe, began to convert their places of business to coffee shops where clients could pay an hourly fee and come play with pets while they chugged their daily caffeinated nectars.

Though there are ones which have rabbits and other furry animals as well, the most popular among this genre seem to be the cat cafés – because nothing seems to melt stress like stroking a furry feline while sipping on an espresso, apparently.

How To Relieve Stress Through Crying Rooms

While this can not yet be termed a trend, the “crying room” is cutting-edge as a concept, and backed by science to boot.

Started by the Mitsui Garden Yotsuya hotel in Tokyo, which charges about $85 per day for its use, this concept revolves around data which suggests that Japanese women between ages 20 to 40 live particularly stressful lives, and need cathartic release in a safe environment where they can get their “me-time”, let down their guard, watch a few tear-jerkers, and bawl till they feel better.

How To Relieve Stress

However, although this service is already in popular use for corporate Japanese women in the Shinjuku ward of Tokyo, it is unavailable to men – and similar innovations by the hotel in the past, as analyzed by locals in the city, suggests as well that this trend may simply be a marketing scheme to draw in larger hordes of customers.

Whatever its origins, it’s a ripper of an idea on how to relieve stress which gets right down to the roots of cathartic stress-busters in behavioral science, and may be worth considering for other establishments in the future. 

Let’s Brainstorm

Now, in light of these innovative stress-busting ideas, let’s put on our thinking caps and discuss a few scientifically-backed novel ideas which would be great as corporate stress-busters.

While Corporatica clearly loves many of these services, the simple truth is that most of them can not be implemented at a place of work – for more reasons than I care to discuss.

So, let’s use scientifically suggested stress-busters, and put forward novel suggestions on how to relieve stress which would be office-friendly as well. Although some may require expenses on behalf of the office, others wouldn’t cost a dime and would still act as effective antidotes to that burden to productivity.

How To Relieve Stress Through The Power Of Nonsense

This is a particularly effective method which would require no monetary investment at all to fulfill the stress-busting needs of your team. 

How To Relieve Stress

Every successful manager that I’ve ever known holds at least one team meeting in a day in order to stay updated on work progress, deliver additional orders from above, discuss problems and solutions, and keep an eye on everyone’s approach to work without micromanaging.

Since most adults live a highly structured life that engenders anxiety, part of which is caused through office meetings, these become great opportunities to tackle the question on how to relieve stress in your team without spending a dime – end meetings by talking in utter gibberish for the last two minutes.

While people would be loathe to join in at first, create an environment – once the serious work discussion is out of the way – where either you or one of your team mimics the recap of the meet, or make fun of your serious tones and gestures through the meeting in utterly nonsensical tongues.

The entire “constant fear engenders respect and productivity” is old-school thinking

The sheer sheepishness of this event, not to mention the comedic potential, would cut through the fog of the rest of the day like sunshine and keep your team upbeat and energetic.

The trick here is to hone your team to understand when you should and should not be taken too seriously. The entire “constant fear engenders respect and productivity” is old-school thinking, and the alternative would bring you respect as well as loyalty from your employees – not to mention the smiles on their faces as they get ready to tackle the day, since you’ve given them such an absurd answer to the question of how to relieve stress.

A happy employee is a stress-free employee, is a productive employee, and so on and so forth.

How To Relieve Stress Through Activities In Soundproofed Rooms

I’ll be honest with you on this one – it may require some investment on behalf of the company in terms of space and sound-proofing, or sound-dampening at the very least, if the rest of the office is to be left undisturbed.

How To Relieve Stress

The first idea is to fill a room with punching bags, musical instruments, and a karaoke machine.

This particular office space would occupy three major scientifically backed stress-busters in one – punching a bag in times of rage or frustration is cathartic, reduces stress, and cuts off chances for counterproductive confrontations in the workspace; playing a musical instrument, whether well or not, is a great way to boost creative juices and cut down on stress; and singing aloud gives a sense of freedom, opens up a person’s confidence and energy, which drives away stress, and rids one of feelings of frustration, stagnation or managerial suffocation.

Singing aloud gives a sense of freedom, opens up a person’s confidence and energy

Although relatively fewer companies would be able to invest in a stress-busting room of this sort, this method would be just as effective an answer to the enigma of how to relieve stress as a handful of Xanax in the Christmas party punch. Well, probably not, but you get my point.

How To Relieve Stress Through Custom Trolleys

Instead of food or sandwich trolleys, here’s an idea – why not start bubble gum and black tea trolleys instead as another innovative response to the puzzle of how to relieve stress.

Both these methods are research-backed as great ways to cut down on stress and anxiety, while improving focus and productivity.

Black tea in particular comes in varied scents and flavors, and a trolley of freshly brewed black tea going around the office every two hours would serve as a great pick-me-up for employees while cutting through stress like the Flash through traffic.

Simple touches of warmth can be added to this service by briefly training the service staff in the flavors and aromas of the teas to be served – which they could then match with the taste desired by the employees requesting a cup.

How To Relieve Stress

Furthermore, chefs or simple cooks can be hired to make varieties of chewing gums at home – with bases ranging from gum to honeycomb and sap, or even zero-calorie sweeteners for diabetics, and flavors ranging from traditional bubblegum to licorice and cinnamon.

The act of chewing gum reduces anxiety and stress

The ease in preparation of these delicacies makes it simple for professionals hired for a day to prepare gargantuan batches which would last months. On the scientific side, the act of chewing gum reduces anxiety and stress by removing extraneous thoughts and distractions from our heads, and improves focus on the task at hand, which boosts productivity.

If you wish to tackle the all-important question of how to relieve stress in your office through minimal expenses and simplistic measures, nothing beats the idea of distributing tea and chewing gum among your employees. 

How To Relieve Stress Through A Return To Childhood

Remember those times when you were at the park as a child – seemingly a gazillion years ago, when Backstreet Boys were mildly respectable – and the sensations you felt when playing on the swings, slides, and see-saws?

Well, that’s what you need to recreate in this idea – that sense of freedom from burden and stress, even if for a moment, by enjoying the simple pleasures of childhood.

How To Relieve Stress

To do this, if there is space available within the office – on a terrace or a larger, open area – invest some money into installing those simple children’s park sets, and give open access to employees. Five minutes on a swing would see the most hardened grump melt on the inside and return to work with a glorious smile.

An adults-only version on how to relieve stress revolving around this – for companies which find it impractical or unfeasible to recreate a children’s park – could be to suspend specialized boutique chairs and hammocks from the ceiling in a single room within the office, where employees could spend a few minutes suspended off the floor, and savor that feeling of burden-free weightlessness that precedes bliss.

How To Relieve Stress

A secondary idea within this set would be to provide balloons and markers within the office. Stressed employees would find blowing up a balloon extremely therapeutic, as the deep long breaths you need to take to do so replicate the effects of meditational breathing in yoga.

Moreover, they could write the source of their stress on the balloon and either set it free from the terrace – not recommended because it isn’t environment friendly – or poke it with a pin to see the visual symbol of their stressor explode cathartically.

How To Relieve Stress Through Nurturing Greenery

The de-stressing power of nurturing a patch of land has long been espoused by hobby gardeners and proved beyond the shadow of a doubt through scientific backing – the very act of caring and nurturing growth which rewards care is a great stress-killer (warning: does not apply to raising teenagers).

How To Relieve Stress

However, the easiest path on how to relieve stress in workspaces through this is to either gift desktop potted-plants to employees, or identify a balcony or area within the office where different plants can be stored after being assigned to a specific employee.

Potting implements and other paraphernalia are rather cheap to avail, easy to store in a janitorial closet, and can be shared among groups of employees.

As an added bonus, you can also host small monthly competitions to judge and reward employees who take the best care of these pots of gifted greenery.

The second path available in response to the question of how to relieve stress through greenery is to assign a patch of land in the office – again, a balcony or terrace – which can be turned into a small garden with beautifully fragrant flowers, lush green grass, and all the other trimmings.

These don’t have to be expensive, and smaller touches can be added through the inclusion of a tiny, electronic water fountain and a cheap bench.

Though the final cost depends on what you choose to include, imagine the feeling of getting out to the balcony after a stressful morning, taking off your shoes, and running your feet through lush and slightly cooling blades of grass, while you hear the soft sounds of trinkling water, and the heady fragrance of flowers fill the air.

Talk about beating stress out with a soft and rather Zen “bang”.

The same area can also be used to host “Laughing yoga” sessions. These don’t really need a yogic master to be able to put together, but it helps.

Regardless, once every two or three days, groups of employees can get together in turns and laugh out their stress within those verdant surroundings. While these laughs may seem slightly forced at first, the very absurdity of the practice will turn them to real mirth soon enough.

The Undeniable Need

In a 2015 survey, spanning 15 nations and 1000 companies within Corporatica, researchers found that today’s workers experience immensely higher benchmarks of stress than they did even a decade ago.

The same study also found that roughly 6 in every 10 workers worldwide face enormous levels of stress at work, and that workers in larger corporations are twice as likely to face nearly-unmanageable numbers of stressors as well as tangibly identifiable severities of stress.

With such numbers, banking on a corporate retreat once a financial quarter, or hoping that new sandwich cart can ease things down just isn’t good enough anymore.

Today’s workers experience immensely higher benchmarks of stress than they did even a decade ago

That said, since workplace-oriented stress is one of the largest sources of anxiety, there are more studies now than ever before attempting to find innovative methods of dealing with this plague from the Pandora’s box of modern-day life.

However, just reading those statistics derived from clinical environments won’t make even an iota of a difference if none of the companies step forward and attempt to integrate it within their structure.

Although new tech startups seem to be doing great in this regard, treating workspaces with a rather endearingly childish irreverence, there are many other companies in Corporatica which don’t fall in this category, and which really could give more of a damn about the mental health of their employees with insulting ease.

While I’ve attempted to stick my neck out and suggest thematic changes in workspace stress-relief models by integrating strange new stress-busters into professional environments, my opinion alone won’t make a difference till this debate moves out of the fringes of the professional world and moves center-stage.

So, denizens of Corporatica, what do you think would be unorthodox and effective workspace responses on how to relieve stress in a professional environment?


Written By

Aniket Saksena

I'm a business/academic/creative/HR writer, interested in pursuing and researching as many fields as possible in an effort to become a cross-domain business expert and opinion leader.