How Meditation Curbs Stress at the Office, Improve Work and Health
Your Zen co-worker notices you wigging out and asks, “Have you ever tried meditation to help with stress?”
You censor what wants to spill from your mouth, but reply, “Have you looked at my calendar today? How am I supposed to meditate?”
It’s only noon, but you’re already feeling the signs that it’s going to be one of “those” days.
Your stomach is in knots. You can’t seem to focus enough to bring a project to completion. You’re indecisive and irritable. The fatigue has muddled your mind and slowed your body, but things have to get done.
Time to muscle through, right?
This stressed state isn’t conducive to either quality work or good health. Nor is it supporting your corporate mission or even checking off your own task list. However, by spending a few minutes, you might be surprised by how meditation can curb stress at the office, improve work and health.
For some who hear the word meditation, a few words or images come to mind: Hippies, incense, a rolled-up mat, and a cross-legged position that hasn’t been comfortable for years.
These skeptics can’t envision themselves meditating or the benefits that might be awaiting them. Or maybe they just don’t get this somewhat abstract concept.
Golbie Kamarei, who has brought meditation to Wall Street, explains, “Meditation can be seen as a mental exercise, a shift in perception, a technique that allows you to relate differently to your thoughts, emotions, sensory experiences, the moment itself.”
Prolonged, uncontrolled stress brings about a host of health problems, such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease, obesity, depression, and anxiety.
Meditation lowers the body’s stress hormones, allowing it to produce more of its calming hormones.
When you’re calmer, you’re more likely to have a positive outlook and more likely to put that positivity to good use working better.
Practicing meditation also gives our critical thinking skills a boost.
In a calmer, more attuned state, you can be more connected to your work and communicate with others more effectively.
While more relaxed, you will also be more creative and innovative.
When you’re frazzled, your brain shuts down, and your body takes over. Your body is in a mode of survival NOT optimal, you can't work at your best. However, meditating at work can bring you back from the frazzled abyss, able to more successfully (and happily) meet the challenges of your day.
How to meditate at work?
It seems counter-intuitive to think that finding a quiet mental place and time in a bustling environment can be possible.
In fact, all you need is your mind and your belief that it can help.
There are a variety of ways to meditate, and one may speak to you more than another.
Finerminds.com suggests you experiment with the following techniques to find the best fit for you:
Zen Meditation is a combination of clearing your mind of negative thoughts, good posture, and deep breathing.
This can be done right at your desk.
Sit with your back straight, and stay focused at some point on the ground in front of you.
While keeping your mouth closed, breathe through your nose.
Breathe slow and steady breaths.
Focus only on your breath and erase thoughts from your mind.
Carve out just a few minutes at the beginning of your work day, during a break, or at a point when you feel you most need to calm yourself.
If the notion of clearing your mind seems impossible, mindfulness might be perfect for you.
Instead of clearing your mind, you are asking your brain to focus on the details of your surroundings acutely.
What is the source of each sound around you? What smells do you notice? Do you see the texture of your desk, the carpet, the office plant?
By entirely tuning into your surroundings and what you are experiencing in the present, you can reduce stress and find calm and relaxation.
Also, National Institutes of Health supported a study that found mindfulness also improves learning, memory and the ability to maintain a healthy weight. Resist “autopilot” and tap into the now.
Pick a phrase that feels powerful to you. It can be anything that you believe has power. “I am capable” or “I will overcome that obstacle” or a bible phrase. Even a sound like humming can be your mantra.
Repeat your mantra to yourself--mentally or verbally provides the same effect.
The key is that you believe your mantra has power.
While not a meditation alone, deep breathing is central to many meditations.
If mantras and mindfulness aren’t for you, just take time to breathe deeply. Focusing on deep and steady breathing through your nose as your rib cage rises and falls, is still very relaxing. And, if you’re not convinced you’ll remember to incorporate meditation into your daily routine, set a relaxation reminder.
At the top of each hour, set the alarm to tell you to take a 1-2 minute break.
Stretch, be mindful, say your mantra, or deeply breathe.
If you need a little more guidance getting started, several apps can help you explore or further your meditation journey.
With belief and a little practice meditating, you too can bring more calm, creativity, health, and productivity to your life.
For more strategies to get you more organized and productive, and less stressed, visit iStratus.com.