How do you work with stress when it arises in your place of work? Do you just push on through it; drink more coffee and hope it will go away? Stress is very common today. We can learn to bring principles of a Zen-inspired life into our workplace by using some simple mindfulness techniques when stress arises. Here are 10 tips for reducing stress:
1. Be Proactive If you procrastinate and put off things that are pressing on you, they weigh on you and effect every thing else you do. Learn to recognize when something is pressing on you and remove the pressure by addressing it now.
2. Listen to Your Body It's amazing how little we do this. We push through stress and we often treat our bodies as if we were simple mechanical machines. When you are feeling anxious, it will show up in the body. The simple practice of paying attention to the body, is a focusing technique we teach in our Corporate Wellness program.
3. Practice Deep, Empathic Listening This kind of listening is rare. But it can be learned and practiced. It can help reduce misunderstandings and clarify agreements. These kind of communication skills are taught as part of the Corporate Wellness program and the Core Curriculum of ZLMC.
4. Breath Awareness of the breath is really critical in helping us dampen down stress levels. How this works is that by taking deep breaths and particularly emphasizing the out breath, we are stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system which helps us regulate, balance and calm automatic nervous system.
5. Learn to Pause Learn to pause and be still. It might only be a minute. Even though you may be stressed because of lack of time, it's amazing how effective simply pausing and giving yourself a moment of stillness can be in helping to restore balance and calmness in yourself. When you return to your task, you will do so with a little bit more focus.
6. Take short breaks Learn to step back from your computer with short breaks. Shift your energy. Stand up, take a short walk. Breath. Stretch. Stay in touch with your body, especially during those times when you are inclined to push through an awareness of your body.
7. Get more sleep This is important. When we are anxious and stressed, it often begins to compromise our sleep patterns, so work on relaxing before you go to bed, and finding ways to get more sleep. It will dramatically improve your ability to handle stress the next day when it arises at work.
8. Drink plenty of water This sounds stupid and silly, but it's true. Water is the most under-appreciated way to flush out toxins from our body. So drink plenty of it. If you are used to drinking soft drinks, you may want to consider changing to simple water. It doesn't have all the sugar that soft drinks do, so it will be more restful and restorative for your body.
9. Don't sweat the small stuff If you have a perfectionist streak in you, learn to let it go when you are working with small things. Mindfulness meditation is a basic practice that can help you begin to re-program negative, reactive habits that no longer serve you into more pro-active, positive habits that help you work with more focus and less stress.
10. Set Boundaries Learn to say "no". When you are over loaded with things to do, it's important to acknowledge this to yourself, and no add to your stress by taking on more tasks that you do not have the time to complete well.