Michael Sterling

7 Fast Tension Tamers for Busy Season

If you’re a public accountant, you’re face-down in tax season and the stress that goes hand-in-hand with the intense hours and strict deadlines. IRS to the rescue! No, not that IRS. Immediately Relieving Stress (I.R.S.) will save your sanity and improve productivity.  Try these 7 tension tamers for busy season – right at your desk.


7 Fast Tension Tamers for Busy Season


Long hours can kill you and your productivity. When our team at SterlingFreeman hits the wall due to stress, we take brief breaks to relax and unwind with simple stress busters. These easy fixes not only get us re-focused and refreshed, they have instant health benefits:


  • Heart rate decreases
  • Breathing becomes slower and deeper
  • Blood pressure drops or stabilizes
  • Muscles relax
  • The body begins to heal


In addition to the calming physical effects, relaxation increases energy, combats illness, relieves aches and pains, heightens problem-solving abilities, and boosts motivation and productivity. Best of all, anyone can reap these rewards.


Relieve Stress at Your Desk


  1. Stretch – Lace your fingers together and turn your palms to face outward in front of you. Reach your arms as far as you can, curving your back and shoulders forward. Hold for about 10 seconds.Now release your fingers, and grab your wrists or fingers behind your back. Raise your arms as high as you can behind your back without releasing your hands so your chest opens and your shoulders roll back.
  2. Breathe – Sit with both feet flat on the floor, and on the edge of your chair seat so your body is not pressed against the chair back. Place a hand at the base of your rib cage. Inhale to a count of three then exhale to a count of six. Focus on your breathing and the rise and fall of your hand with each breath. Repeat five to 10 times.
  3. Massage – Knead the tension out of muscles in your head, neck, shoulders and back. Make a loose fist and drum swiftly up and down the sides and back of your neck. Use your thumbs to work tiny circles around the base of your skull. Slowly massage the rest of your scalp with your fingertips. Tap your fingers against your scalp, moving from the front to the back and then over the sides.  Then, work the muscles in your shoulders and back in a similar fashion.
  4. Progressive Muscle Release – Starting with your feet and moving upward, focus on releasing tension in specific muscles by tensing (10 seconds) and relaxing (10 seconds).  Move slowly from one muscle group to the next.
  • Right foot, then left foot
  • Right calf, then left calf
  • Right thigh, then left thigh
  • Hips and buttocks
  • Stomach
  • Chest
  • Back
  • Right arm and hand, then left arm and hand
  • Neck and shoulders
  • Face


5. Tension Twist – Using a swivel desk chair, hold on to the edge of your desk, pick your feet up and push your chair back until your arms are almost fully extended. Then, rotate your knees to the right and left, keeping your chest, shoulders and head facing forward. The twist wrings tension out of the back muscles.

6. Head Down – Your elementary school teachers had it right. Placing your head on your desk calms and quiets.  Ancient Chinese health practices show that resting the forehead quiets the mind.  Stack your forearms on top of each other, scoot your chair back until your spine is fully extended, and rest your forehead on your top arm. Place your feet flat on the floor. Close your eyes. Breathe deeply.

7. Acupressure – Clear vision and drain tension through facial pressure points. Rest one elbow on your desk and use the thumb and forefinger of one hand to squeeze the very top of the bridge of the nose. Gently press your fingers up into the brow bone and take several breaths. This refreshes vision and clears the head. Then use the thumbs and index fingers of each hand to squeeze the skin just below the eyebrow. Hold for one breath, release, then repeat a quarter-inch further out on the brow. Keep going until you get to the outer edges of the eyebrows. This releases tension and counteracts over-thinking.


Nuts! (And other frustration de-fusing foods)


In addition to these quick work day time-outs, eating stress-reducing foods also helps keep your head in the game and your body healthy. Food Network has identified 10 of the top stress busting foods. We keep a variety of these tension-tamers at the ready in our break room.


What stress busters work for you?  I welcome your comments.  For 16 years, I’ve specialized in career coaching and recruiting.  Connect with me on LinkedIn.


Interested in more career nutrition? Check out the Career Wellness section of the SterlingFreeman website.


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