According to a 2014 study from Harris Interactive for Everest College, around 83 percent of American workers feel stressed out by their jobs. While stress is an inevitable part of any job (or business if you’re an entrepreneur), there are ways to combat it – even in the middle of your work day.
Here are a four techniques you can use to find your calm during business hours:
1. Take a moment to breathe.
Practicing deep abdominal breathing reverses the stress response by providing your blood with more oxygen which results in greater relaxation. Here’s how to do it:
Inhale while puffing out your abdomen; bring your breath up through your rib cage, then up, expanding your chest. Reverse the process by exhaling from the chest, allowing the rib cage and then the abdomen to go down towards your spine. To relax even more, make your inhalations and exhalations of equal length (for example, inhale four counts, exhale four counts).
2. Make a list of things you’re thankful for.
Grateful people report higher levels of positive emotions, life satisfaction, vitality, optimism and lower levels of depression and stress. A great way to practice gratitude is to create a gratitude list. Take a few minutes to write down everything you can think of that you’re thankful for, big and small. See how your mood nd outlook shift.
3. Practice mindfulness.
Put simply, mindfulness means being awake. When practicing it, you’re aware of the present moment, and you’re also in a state of emotional non-reactivity, meaning you don’t judge your experience, whether it’s considered good or bad.
Here are a few ways you can practice mindfulness at work:
- When you have time for a short break, sit at your desk, noticing the sensations in your body and becoming aware of your breath.
- Mindfully eat lunch. Instead of checking your email or scrolling through Instagram, focus on simply eating, noticing the colors, taste, smells, and texture of your food. Chew slowly, and savor each bite.
- Focus on one task at a time. Single-tasking, as opposed to multitasking, actually helps you achieve more and become more productive.
4. Do a little yoga.
Practicing yoga helps you relieve stress, cultivates inner peace and calm, and connects you with the present moment. Below are a few simple poses you can do at work.
Slow neck stretch. Inhale and bring your right hand to the left side of your head and exhale, gently bringing your head toward your right shoulder. Take three to five deep breaths, then bring your head back to the center and your arm down. Repeat on the other side.
Seated twist. Inhale and bring your arms out to your sides then overhead. Exhale (keeping length in your spine) and twist your torso to the right, and place your left hand on the outside of your right knee and your right arm to your chair. Take three to five deep breaths. Inhale, bringing your arms overhead and untwist to come back to the center. Switch sides. Repeat three times.
Seated backbend. Sitting with a straight spine, take a deep breath and open your arms wide then reach them up to the ceiling. As you exhale, let your gaze move slowly back behind you and bend slightly from your upper back and chest. Hold for a few seconds, then release your arms to the side. Repeat three times.
Shoulder opener. Move your chair back and stand a few feet from your desk so just your hands are touching it Drop your head between your arms for a good stretch. Hold for a few seconds, and repeat if you want.
Seated forward fold. Sit up straight in your chair. Relax your shoulders, and let your arms hang at your sides. Engage your core by pulling your bellybutton back towards your spine, and if you can, keep your feet flat on the floor. Bring your legs slightly wider than hip-distance. On an exhale, hinge from your hips, slowly lowering your hands to the floor (or your thighs or shins). Slowly round your upper back and bring your chest between your legs, letting your head and neck hang if that feels okay. Allow your shoulders to relax. Hold for three to five breaths. When you’re ready to come out of the pose, inhale and slowly rise up with your head coming up last.
“If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath.” – Amit Ray
How do you find your calm at work?
Calm Coach Jamie Fleming-Dixon works with ambitious women who are tired of being burned out, stressed out, and worn out. She assists them in finding their calm through coaching services and blog, Black Girl’s Guide to Calm.
Jamie’s love of meditation and yoga was sparked after giving birth to her daughter, and she desires to teach women how to use them, along with other tools, to create more calm and peace in the midst of all they have going on. Learn more at BlackGirlsGuidetoCalm.com.