Even if you are working at your dream job, stress can sap your effectiveness and your enthusiasm. Much of what people do to reduce stress can cause more harm than good (like smoking or complaining to others.) Here are ten easy ways to reduce the stress reaction brought on by our everyday grind. They are simple and most of them take less time than changing the ink cartridge in the printer! You can start with adding one a week and soon you will build a daily routine that will change the way you experience your life, both at work and at home.
- Start while your car is warming up (the engine that is!) Take a moment to quietly pay attention to your breathing and set an intention to use awareness of breath as a way to remain connected to your body all day.
- Leave early enough to take a slow and one-pointed drive to work. That means no music or phone – just driving.
- When at a stoplight or toll, glance outside: notice the sky, trees, and birds and simply connect visually with the movement and flow of nature.
- Before exiting your car at work, take a moment to reconnect with your breath, your morning intention, and slowly step into your workplace.
- Every time you sit down at your desk, in a meeting, or on the phone, take note of your body and intentionally relax your head, neck, and shoulders. Then, move onto relaxing your belly, hips, and thighs.
- Select one or two days each week to eat lunch mindfully, in silence maintaining awareness on eating and allowing all other thoughts to fall away. On the other days take a moment before eating to check in with the body, to prepare it for the meal by relaxing and taking a few conscious breaths and welcoming the meal with gratitude.
- At the end of the workday, pause and take note of all you have done that day – you have done enough! Make a quick list of unfinished business and set an intention to let it go for now.
- Upon arrival at home, pause while still in the car and take a deep breath, exhaling any remaining work tension and thoughts and set an intention to bring awareness now to your family, your pets, and your home life.
- Take a moment to change clothes, making the shift from work to home. If greeted by family members take a moment to pause and greet each one simply sensing their presence and giving each full attention for a moment or two.
- End the day with a mindful awareness exercise or a meditation that fosters appreciation, love, and compassion for your self and for others.
Dr. Patricia Shutt is Co-Founder and Clinical Psychologist at Therapeutic Oasis of the Palm Beaches. She is also the owner of Sacred Treehouse in Delray Beach, Florida where she teaches meditation and moderates an 8-week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) workshop. For more information, call (561) 278-6033.