Say goodbye to stress

12.09.2017 | Text Katrin Jott

Illustration of a brain

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Happy and relaxed at work? These smart tips from the experts are a real help:

1. Smile away the stress

Even just pretending to smile changes our emotional state. US psychologists have shown that smiling slows the heart rate and reduces stress. This works even if we smile without feeling happy. In this case, the mouth sends signals to the brain and the brain reacts by releasing happiness hormones.


Sounds ridiculous, but it works: Holding a pen horizontally between the corners of your mouth changes your expression in such a way that the brain picks up the smiling signal. Try this out in stressful situations.

a woman holding a sparkler

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2. Try the pinch test

Our brain cells are made up of 85% water. The tiniest level of dehydration is all it takes to noticeably reduce our performance: Our short-term memory functions less effectively and our ability to concentrate reduces. Drinking a glass of water on a number of occasions really does help with thinking. Try the pinch test: If a small wrinkle forms when you pinch the skin on the back of your hand, then it is time to drink. Studies by the Rosbacher drinking survey have even shown that test subjects’ IQ increases by five percent - by drinking enough at breakfast for example.


One glass of water per hour is ideal, even if we don't feel thirsty. Experts recommend two litres of water which is equivalent to eight glasses a day.

Ocean during a sunset

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3. Drink tea

When cats purr they emit alpha waves which have a calming effect on us. Drinking tea has a similar effect. In addition to the stimulating theine, tea contains the amino acid L-theanine which triggers those alpha waves in the brain. These, in turn, are responsible for the reward hormone dopamine which relaxes us. This makes tea, for two reasons, the most enjoyable way to optimise our own performance - it is the perfect combination of stress buster and euphoria inducer.


Switch from coffee to tea a bit more often. The healthiest types are green or white, these contain the most antioxidants for combating toxins in the body.

Close-up of a cat's face

© Kevin Knezic/

4. Walk and think

The naturalist Charles Darwin has already lead the way here. He regularly included walks as part of his thinking during everyday work - and it was often during these walks he had the best ideas. Katarina Gospic believes that, particularly today, Darwin should be our role model again. The Swedish brain researcher quotes studies which demonstrate that we lack concentration when we are at work. On average we are interrupted every eleven minutes and it takes 23 minutes to get back into the flow after each interruption. Gospic advises that meetings, thinking breaks or brainstorming sessions are held outside the office, ideally in the natural environment.


Therefore plan your next brainstorming session to include a visit to the ice cream shop. The walk and the tempting reward will motivate colleagues.

A bowl with popsicles

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5. Take a break from your email

Ever had the post holiday blues? That's the melancholic feeling you get when you are sitting at your desk again after returning from your travels. Occupational psychologists recommend that, shortly after we return, we should already start thinking about the next (short) holiday which should be around six to ten weeks later. This makes the period leading up to the next break more manageable; you are already focusing on positive thoughts and images which will get you through the day-to-day.


Start the working week after the holiday on a Wednesday or Thursday so that you don't have to struggle through five days all at once.

Mercedes-Benz makes it easier for returners with an internal programme called “Mail on holiday”. People going on holiday clearly delegate their emails to a colleague who takes care of things while they are absent. A note to the sender makes it clear that the email will be deleted from the inbox of the person who is absent. People returning from their holidays therefore do not need to spend hours working through their emails.

travel equipment and miscellaneous

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