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5-Minute wellness rituals your employees can do at their desk

Published by: LifeWorks,

The focus on employee well-being in the workplace is becoming more prevalent. However, wellness initiatives need to address all aspects of wellness, not just physical health.

My company, LifeWorks, recently conducted a survey and found that 29 percent of employers say employees need the most help with physical wellness. However, the same number of employers say employees need the most help with their mental and emotional wellness.

How can you support both areas of wellness? It’s simple: start building healthy activities into the workday.

Giving your employees mini-breaks boosts productivity and improves overall employee well-being, especially if they use these breaks wisely.

So, let’s take a look at five-minute wellness rituals your employees can do at their desk:


Through journaling, employees can improve their memory, become better communicators, inspire more creativity, build self-confidence, and learn how to process and manage their emotions. In short, there are several upsides to keeping a journal.

Even just five minutes per day can make a big difference. In fact, one of the most popular journals is called The Five Minute Journal.

It’s incredibly easy and straightforward. Each page provides clear prompts, and the entire exercise can be completed in five minutes.

In the morning, your employees write about what they’re grateful for, what would make their day great, and they also set daily affirmations. Then, at the end of the day, they write about amazing things that happened and how they could have made the day better.

This process of cultivating gratitude and focusing on positive aspects of their day boosts employees’ moods and helps them stay more optimistic. As such, this mental health exercise can have a positive effect on overall employee well-being.


The concept of meditation has been around for thousands of years. And with more research showing the many health benefits of meditation, it’s becoming more accepted in Western cultures.

According to a meta-analysis of meditation studies from researchers at Johns Hopkins University, mindful meditation can help ease psychological stresses like anxiety, depression, and pain.

Even just ten deep breaths can help center your employees and reduce stress. It also improves memory and emotional health, and it can even decrease blood pressure.

The facts are clear — meditation can directly improve employee well-being. To help employees build this into their day, start meditation groups in your office. These groups can hold each other accountable and get together for a short, five-minute guided meditation.

Alternatively, consider purchasing subscriptions to meditation apps like Headspace or Calm. These are great for introducing employees to basic techniques. They also let them personalize their experience through a wide selection of guided meditations, some of which only take a few minutes.

Exercise and stretch

Employees don’t need access to a full gym to establish a good fitness routine. When they take a five-minute break, they can get their blood flowing by taking walks around the office or even breaking a sweat at their desk.

High intensity interval training (HIIT) exercising can be done in a small space using just body weight. Encourage your staff to use apps like the 7 Minute Workout, or follow online HIIT videos on free sites like Fitness Blender.

To get teams engaged on a personal level, host desk yoga demonstrations. Desk yoga is rather simple — employees perform basic variations of yoga positions using their desk and chair. This helps reduce neck and back pain.

If you want to add some extra cheer and a level of fun to your day, teach employees about laughter yoga. It may sound odd, but the practice can lighten up the mood during a busy workday.

Employees gather in a group and simply start voluntarily laughing. By forcing laughter together, everyone starts to laugh for real, and the joy becomes contagious.

Creative arts

Chances are, your employees have a skill or hobby that sparks their creativity. Encourage them to take five-minute breaks to flex their creative muscles. The act of creating something can have a great impact on overall employee well-being.

For example, if some employees like to paint, write, or draw, give them a dedicated space to do so or encourage them to do this at their desk. You can also provide adult coloring books, which can be a great stress reliever.

Creative projects can take a long time to complete, so encourage them to accomplish a little bit each day until their artwork is finished. Then, they can share their creation with the office.

Improving employee well-being can seem like a daunting pursuit. After all, there is no set-it-and-forget-it strategy that guarantees results.

However, if you empower your employees by giving them the time and resources to start and maintain simple habits that improve their health, these little steps can often lead to big change.

Make your employees feel loved