Frustrated woman sitting at desk trying to cope with stress at work.

8 Strategies For Discreetly Coping With Stress At Work

I’ve never met anyone who hasn’t encountered stress in the workplace. And I don’t mean the good kind of motivating stress that encourages you to get the job done either. No, I’m talking about the kind that makes you feel as if you are on the brink of being totally overwhelmed. All too often, when that occurs, you’re usually surrounded by co-workers making it a challenge to handle it without bringing unwanted attention to yourself. But it can be done. And I’m going to show you how by sharing eight strategies you can use to discreetly cope with stress at work. 

8 strategies to discreetly cope with stress at work

Everyone needs a go-to trick to manage stress to allow your brain to stay flexible so you can think more positively. Therefore, I encourage you to try these strategies out and see which ones help you the most.

1. Count to 10, then count backward

When the pressure builds, take a normal breath, count to 10, and then back to 1 again. It’s a little hard to count and think about what comes after 7, so it works by interrupting the stress response in the moment, giving you a chance to calm down.

2. Get up and move around

Taking a short break removes you from the situation and gives you a chance to stop yourself from inflating stressful thoughts. Moving around and doing mundane acts won’t make anyone the wiser that you are trying to relieve stress. Here are some tasks you can try:

  • Go for a walk. 
  • Grab a cup of coffee or soothing drink
  • Get up and make some copies
  • Straighten up your workspace

3. Practice gratitude

Gratitude is something we should practice daily, anxiety or not.  However, when stressed, it’s a great way to shift your focus from the stressors at work onto things that are going right that you can be grateful for. You might find it hard at first to find things you are really thankful for, but if you look, you’ll find something, and slowly, you will see a shift in your attitude.

4. Set a stress boundary 

If something or someone starts to stress you out, excuse yourself from the situation. Take a moment and figure out if the stress is related to your situation. Or if it coming from someone else. Being aware of the source will help you to target how to handle it.

5. Look at relaxing colors to bring a sense of calm

You might not be aware of it, but your mind and body both have reactions to seeing colors. In fact, artists and interior designers are well aware of this fact. They know that color can dramatically affect feelings, emotions, and moods. So, discover what color brings calm to your mind and incorporate it into your workspace. 

6. Run cold water over your wrist

Your wrists have major arteries, and studies show that running cold water over them can cool you off and help you “chill out” simultaneously. So the next time you are stressed, head to the restroom and flip on the faucet. 

7. Do a breathing exercise

“Take a deep breath” is the advice you often hear when someone sees you stressed. But you might be surprised to know it’s on the exhale that actually relaxes our bodies. So it’s essential to learn the correct way to breathe to bring about the sense of calm and relaxation you need. 

Many breathing techniques are helpful, but box breathing is simple to do, and you can do it anywhere. Here’s how to do it:

Step 1: Inhale to the count of four slowly.

Step 2: Hold your breath for four counts.

Step 3: Exhale through your mouth to the count of four.

Step 4: Repeat steps 1 to 3 until you feel yourself calming down.

8. Do a progressive muscle relaxation exercise

Stress and tight muscles go hand in hand. It can be so normal for you that you don’t even realize how tight your muscles really are. Progressive muscle relaxation exercises are an excellent way to let go of that tension.

Here’s an easy method you can try at your desk:

Tense your toes for five seconds, then relax them for ten seconds. Next, progressively move up each muscle group. (calves, thighs, stomach, chest, arms, hands, etc.) and do the same until you reach your neck and head.


All in all, stress is normal, and yes, it can even be good. However, when  that stress becomes excessive, how you decide to handle it can make all the difference between success and failure. Therefore, when you feel the pressure building, I encourage you to try these eight simple strategies. Knowing there are ways to discreetly cope with stress at work should reassure you that you can gain control and lower your stress level no matter where you are.

And as always, if you want to learn additional ways to manage job stress so you can be more successful in the workplace, working with a coach is a great way to go. I’d love to hear from you.

Hi, I’m Kris Henderson, LPC. I want you to know that I am here to help. There are numerous coping skills that are helpful but not always one best way to proceed. If you would like more personalized support, I invite you to contact me or schedule your phone callTogether we can discover which strategy is likely to work best for you to get you feeling more confident, competent, and in control at work.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.