Mental Health / 13.04.2021

3 Stretching Exercises for Contact Center Professionals Working From Home

Stretching Exercises
If you asked almost anyone at any moment if they are experiencing stress, nine times out of 10, the answer will be yes. And while not all stress is bad stress, 2020 definitely offered a new perspective on what stress means and how it can affect our mental and physical wellbeing.

Since April is National Stress Awareness Month and we remain committed to offering support and providing tips to create a healthy workplace, we identified ways to overcome the stress that we hold in our bodies and minds. We compiled the following list of easy, stress-relieving stretching exercises specifically focused on the stress points that contact center agents experience when working from home.

Before we dive into the stretches, first, let’s get a basic understanding of the types of stress that agents may experience while working from home.

Types of Stress

In general, we experience stress daily. While we cannot avoid stress, not all stress is considered bad. In fact, stress is the most natural response to situations that are beyond our control. It is our fight-or-flight response that kicks in as a way to survive these experiences. However, ongoing stress that is not relieved can manifest itself within our bodies and minds and could lead to preventable health issues that can be challenging (or impossible) to reverse.

Here are the types of stress we experience:

  • Routine: Routine stress is experienced daily. It is often related to our careers, family, school and other daily pressures.
  • Sudden: Sudden stress happens when there is an unexpected change such as an illness, divorce or other life events that uproot our daily lives and routines.
  • Traumatic: Traumatic stress is a response to an accident, assault or natural disaster. Those who experience traumatic stress often feel the mental and physical effects after the trauma has passed. Still, they can recover naturally or through the help of a support system and therapy.

Through the past year, most experienced a combination of stress. Dealing with the pandemic was ongoing stress that penetrated every aspect of our lives and did not retreat in a timely manner. Therefore, other types of stress were augmented, causing us to carry a full mental and physical load.

But as mentioned, while the source of stress may be out of your control, you can control the things you do to negate the effects of stress on your mind and body. So, let’s start with stretches that will help clear your mind and increase blood and oxygen flow throughout your body.

Important note: Before you get started, know that you should consult a physician before engaging in any new exercise routine. Please ensure you are healthy and able before giving these stretching exercises a try.

3 Stretching Exercises for WFH Agents

Specifically, for contact center agents working from home, there are a few areas of the body that may hold onto stress due to job responsibilities and the resulting body positioning.

So let’s focus on the following areas: upper body, lower back, head and neck.

Upper Body Stretches

Standing stretches

While sitting at a desk for the better part of the day, your upper body tends to hold onto stress, and exercises that open your chest, shoulders and upper back can help loosen the tension. Try the following upper body stretch that targets the deltoids, pectorals, biceps and upper back.

To do the exercise, follow these instructions:

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Bring your hands behind you and interlock them.
  3. Extend your arms as straight as you can while keeping your elbows facing each other.
  4. Slowly raise your arms to engage in the stretch.
  5. Hold for 10-30 seconds, release and repeat 3-4 times.

Lower Back Stretches

Yoga stretch

Consider trying this yoga-inspired stretch that will target your abs, obliques, hip flexors and transversospinales (back) muscles.

To do the exercise, follow these instructions:

  1. Lay on the ground, flat on your stomach.
  2. Place your hands by your shoulders.
  3. With your hands flat on the ground, gently push through your hands and slowly lift your chest off the ground.
  4. The goal is to arch your back by pushing through your hands so your arms are at a 90-degree angle.
  5. Hold the stretch for 10-30 seconds, release and repeat 3-4 times.

As a note, focus on your breathing. When you are laying flat, take a deep breath in and exhale, then move into the stretch. Your breath will help you focus on the stretches and clear your mind as you channel your energy into the stretch and out of any outside influences.

Neck and Shoulder Stretches

Shoulder Stretch

Due to incorrect posture (because we are tired, uncomfortable or do not have the correct setup), our necks and shoulders require special attention. Here is a stretch that focuses on the levator scapulae, a muscle that runs down the side of the neck into the shoulder.

To do the exercise, follow these instructions:

  1. Stand facing a wall with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Extend one arm in front of you to touch the wall as high as you can reach with your elbow above shoulder height.
  3. Turn your head toward your opposite shoulder, then tilt your head down.
  4. Hold the position for about 30 seconds.
  5. Repeat on the opposite side.

Don’t Forget to Breathe

Breathing

No matter which stretches you try, make sure you move your body and focus on taking long, deep breaths. A good practice is to set an alarm that goes off every hour and reminds you to get up, move and breathe. A simple five-minute walk or breathing exercise can help clear your mind, level your heart rate and give you a quick respite from daily stress.

Seek Help if You Need It

Anyone can become overwhelmed at any time, and there is no shame in seeking help.

So if you, a loved one or coworker is experiencing thoughts of suicide, please call the confidential, toll-free 24/7 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255).