Find Your Zen & Stay There, Even at Work
Between deadlines, unrealistic workloads and annoying coworkers, our jobs can really stress us the F out. Considering we spend the majority of our day there, work can greatly impact our health and wellbeing. We are not powerless though and by incorporating a few new habits into our day, we can stay zen..yes, even at work!
Mindful living is everything when trying to remain centered and calm, dealing with a demanding boss or an “all over the place” client. Try implementing these 6 tips into your daily workflow to build powerful habits and a more peaceful work environment.
In Tim Ferris’s book Tools of Titans he interviews 200 badass bosses who are killing it in their fields. More than 80% of the interviewees follow some form of daily mindfulness or meditation practice every morning. This early AM ritual helps set a positive tone for the day and this sense of calm can then be more easily tapped into when shit gets crazy throughout the day. What if you’re usually running out the house to get to work on time? Start small and set your alarm for just 15 minutes earlier than usual. Here are a few ideas to help you personalize your ritual so it resonates with you.
- “Brain dump” or vent all your early morning thoughts into a journal.
- Mindfully drink your tea, coffee or healthy breakfast
- Set an intention for the day
- Think of 3 things you’re grateful for that day
- Yoga or breathing exercises
- Grounding exercise
Arianna Huffington shares that what she doesn’t do is just as important as what she does include in her morning routine. “When I wake up, I don’t start the day by looking at my smartphone. Instead, once I’m awake, I take a minute to breathe deeply, be grateful, and set my intention for the day.” She also practices up to thirty minutes of meditation and thirty minutes on a stationary bike followed by a few yoga stretches.
Bell of Mindfulness
A super simple, yet effective way to remind yourself to pause and chill out for a minute is to set a bell on your computer or phone. I added the Bell of Mindfulness, a chrome extension to my computer to go off every 30 minutes as a reminder to take a deep cleansing breath for 4 counts, hold it for one and then slowly breath out for 4. I was hesitant to do this because I thought it would interrupt my train of thought while working. It has not at all and honestly, I look forward to it. I never realized how tense I can get while engrossed in my work and this quick deep breath relaxes my body and mind for a moment.
If work is taking over your life, then it’s time to make a conscious effort to create a more balanced lifestyle. I believe this is one of the major components to a happier and more fulfilled life. We have to take care of ourselves FIRST in order to effectively take care of everything else of importance in our lives. If one area of our life is out of whack (aka imbalanced) this seeps into all areas of our life. We are complex human beings and if we want to be more energized, yet centered we need to devote time to fostering all parts of us, including the physical, emotional, spiritual, creativity/passions and social/relationships. So, how do you do this when you feel like you race from one obligation to the next? It’s not going to be easy, but the first step is to restructure your priorities and your time. Write down some ways you can enhance each of these important areas. If you see the value in making healthy meals, catching up with friends over coffee, starting a yoga practice or learning to paint, like you’ve always wanted (to name a few ideas) you’re more likely to make the time. How would your life look, feel and be different if you were able to include these various aspects into your life?
If you have never tried meditation, it may feel a little strange to sit quietly. I mean, when do we ever do that? We are usually so lost in our thoughts or on our phones for the majority of the day, it’s become our norm to not even notice what’s going on around us. The beautiful thing about meditation is there are a variety of apps that make it so easy to squeeze this into your day. There really is no excuse considering some meditations are as short as 5 minutes and even offer alerts to remind you to practice. Don’t worry if you experience “Monkey mind”. It is totally normal as your brain will jump from thought to thought, just as a monkey swings from branch to branch. Meditating is a skill and it takes time to learn how to redirect your thoughts back to your breathing or the words of the guided meditation. You can fit this into your work day by popping in your earbuds and listening during your commute if you walk or take public transit or taking some time during your lunch break. I discovered meditation when I worked an office job as a behavioral health case manager with Medicaid clients. Meditation was a life saver.
Stepping away from your desk or work space for a short time to get your body moving is crucial. These small breaks can recharge you. Rather than walking to grab coffee and getting lost in thoughts of your upcoming meeting or scrolling through social media on your phone, try this 5-4-3-2-1 grounding technique. While taking deep breaths, notice 5 sounds, 4 sights, 3 smells, 2 touches and 1 taste. Truly be present in the moment and give yourself a little mind vacay. If you can’t get away from your desk, that’s totally fine. You can do this mindful grounding technique anywhere.
Learn to check in with yourself daily and ask, What do I need today? If you had a chaotic day at work, maybe you need to decompress or if you’ve got some built up frustration, perhaps a spin class or run would help. Taking this time to care for yourself will allow you to release any negative feelings remaining from the day, so you can face work tomorrow with a better mindset and higher energy. Pencil self care into your schedule along with making dinner, paying bills and walking the dog. It may be the most important part of your day.