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Christy Matta, M.A.Christy Matta, M.A.
A Blog on Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Mindfulness and Stress Reduction

An Expert Interview with Darrin Zeer on Managing Work Stress

Christy Matta, M.A. Updated: Oct 6th 2010

I recently had the opportunity to ask best-selling author and relaxation consultant Darrin Zeer some questions about managing stress at work. I'm happy to share with you, today, his approach on how to bring relaxation into work.

Christy: You spent 7 years in Asia studying yoga, meditation and relaxation. What did you learn there about stress reduction that is important to incorporate into western business culture?

Darrin ZeerDarrin: During my 7 year journey throughout Southeast Asia; I was surprised to learn that ancient five thousand year old yoga & meditation techniques were the perfect fit for our busy, modern lives. Simple stretches & breathing exercises don't require any equipment and can be done while at your computer, driving in your car, on a call or in a meeting. Overwhelm & stress is a challenge we all face & corporations understand that not only does it affect employee health but also customer service and productivity. When we manage our stress throughout the day, we feel better. Eastern stress relief techniques work like magic to calm your mind and ease body aches & pains. Our mental and physical well being can be maintained by using simple wholistic methods. It has been proven scientifically that yoga & meditation provides immediate relief to stress induced problems.

Christy: How are people getting stressed out today?

Darrin: In my work with hundreds of companies and literally hundreds of thousands of people, all our fast paced lifestyles are the greatest cause of tension. The computer age was supposed to make life easier, but what really happened is that America was suddenly on call 24/7. Texting, emails & computers; puts the world & work right at our fingertips. And a sedentary work environment of sitting endlessly at a computer also puts a strain on the body. Hunched over, staring at a computer screen, typing endlessly at a keyboard are all recipes for physical strain. This instant demand for all things viral, makes us all a little edgy...grouchy...anxious...angry...overwhelmed. Multi-tasking whether at work or play is taking on new forms as technology takes further leaps and bounds.

Christy: How do you suggest people stay energized at work?

Darrin: I have a theory about work these days. As busy as we all are, there is always time for micro-breaks. If your computer freezes, why not do a stretch rather then sitting crumpled up in frustration. If your eyes feel strained, look away from your screen or close your eyes. In my book, "Office Yoga" I have over 50 ideas that all can be done in an instant. Yoga has become such an American tradition, you don't have to worry about any odd stares from workmates. Your friends will just want to join in. And "Office Yoga" fits right in with your deskbound duties.

Christy: What are 2 or 3 small changes you can make to improve your stress level during the work day?

Darrin: Here are some 5 simple tips from my book, "Office Yoga" to help get you through your day relatively stress-free.

1. Yoga in Bed

Wake up with these gentle stretches. Remember to do them slowly, breathe deeply, and relax.

  • Lie on your back in bed.
  • Bring both knees to your chest and wrap your arms around them.
  • Breathe deeply and feel your lower back release.
  • Drop both knees to one side, keeping your shoulders flat; relax in the stretch.
  • Gently bring both legs back up, and switch sides.
  • Knees at your chest again, rock back and forth.
  • If you can, raise up into a forward bend, chest out, upper body stretching forward.
  • Take hold of your legs.
  • Relax your shoulders and drop your head.
  • Take several deep full-body breaths, stretching a little farther each time. Don't push it.

To go deeper into the stretch, wrap a belt or towel around your feet, hold both ends, and gently stretch forward.

2. Antidote for Road Rage

Stop-and-go traffic making you nuts? Loosen up your windpipes and sing your favorite song. Imitate an opera singer and come from your belly with the sound.

"If you have patience to wait, gradually the muddy water becomes clear."
-Lao Tsu

3. Keyboard Calisthenics

Do stretches with your hands and wrists as often as possible. Improvise-be creative!

  • With hands in a prayer position, move in all directions and stretch.
  • Squeeze fists tight.
  • Stretch fingers wide.
  • Interlace fingers and rotate hands.
  • Invent stretches that feel good.

Make it a habit: Constantly stretch your hands and wrists.

"The less effort, the faster and more powerful you will be."
-Bruce Lee

4. From your Chair: Kick Back Log-on Pose

  • Interlace your fingers behind your head.
  • Relax your elbows and shoulders.
  • Smile, breathe, and stretch your elbows back.
  • Let the tightness release slowly.

Repeat throughout the day.

"The secret of success is making your vocation your vacation."
-Mark Twain

5. E-mail Meditation

While you are reading your e-mail, remember to breathe slowly and focus your attention on your breath. Make the out-breath two times longer than the in-breath. This will immediately calm you.

"Kind words may be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless."
-Mother Teresa

Christy: You have a technique you call "laughter yoga" where people fake laughter until the laughter becomes real. Can you explain why fake laughter and how this works?

Darrin: Laughter Yoga is my best team building technique. And it's a great stress buster as well. Remember the famous old saying, "Laughter is the best medicine"? Well I think it's right. If you have a free 7 minutes please watch this youtube video. It's me at a conference in North Carolina with 2500 business woman.

The key is too fake it til you make it. It doesn't take long for an entire room to be crying with laughter. I guess the key is too get everyone committed to try. There is scientific proof that laughter is healthy for our body and mind. In my experience with doing this exercise with various company meetings, the results are fantastic. In just moments a tense crowd suddenly becomes joyous. And talk about a great ice-breaker, strangers suddenly become friends. Which for meetings and other events that is truly special.

About Darrin Zeer

Darrin works as a Relaxation Consultant to corporations across America. His best selling books including Office Yoga, Office Spa, Office Feng Shui, Everyday Calm & Travel Yoga have sold over half a million copies. He travels across America encouraging people to be happy, stay calm, and be successful. He has appeared on CNN, in Time magazine, on NPR radio, the New York Times and hundreds of other media venues. Darrin spent seven years in Asia studying the Eastern arts of yoga & meditation. He lives in Colorado, where he writes and consults for companies like Del Monte Foods, Maidenform, 3M, General Motors & CNN. Come visit Darrin at

Christy Matta, M.A.

Christy Matta M.A. is a trainer, consultant and writer. She is the author of The Stress Response: How Dialectical Behavior Therapy Can Free You from Needless Anxiety, Worry, Anger, and Other Symptoms of Stress. She is intensively trained in DBT and has designed and provided clinical supervision to treatment programs, including a winner of the American Psychiatric Association Gold Award. Matta has a Master of Arts in counseling psychology from Boston College. For more on her consultation and trainings visit her web site For more tips and mindfulness tips and strategies visit her blog

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