Stress is a normal part of life in the United States, but more and more Americans are taking proactive steps to deal with the negative effects of stress before they take a toll on health and wellbeing. Often this means beating stress and anxiety at work, not just surviving stressful days so you can go home and relax. While eating an anti-inflammatory diet and taking adaptogen herbs or CBD supplements can help to tame stress, it’s useful to have some other tools to beat stress in the moment, especially during the daily grind.
Meditation to Relieve Stress
Have you tried meditation lately? Although many people believe they don’t have time to develop a meditation practice, the benefits of meditation have been demonstrated by ancient traditions as well as modern scientific research. Meditation has been shown to reduce blood pressure, ease anxiety and depression, reduce insomnia and contribute to improved health and vitality. It even has anti-aging effects on the brain.
How to Meditate at Work
No time for a meditation session before you leave for the daily grind? No problem. Fortunately, meditation can offer immense benefits from relatively short bursts of “practice.” Consider installing an app on your phone like Waking Up, which can help set reminders and provide short, guided meditations. You can tune into these prompts when you need a few minutes to recharge during a hectic day.
Breathing Techniques for Anxiety
Whether it’s everyday stress at work that makes the worry machine churn in your mind, or you’ve been dealing with an anxiety disorder, deep breathing can help manage those anxious feelings even on the job. Many people who experience anxiety also suffer from panic attacks, which among other symptoms can make you feel as if you cannot breathe. A simple breathing technique that can tame an attack or simply ease an anxious mind is focusing on the exhale. Take a deep belly breath as you count to four, then focus on the outbreath for eight counts, being sure to fully empty the lungs. Negative pressure will naturally allow you to fill your lungs with fresh, oxygen-rich air. Try this breathing pattern for three or four breaths. Many people experience a sense of groundedness or calm after deep breathing.
Taking Strategic Breaks
The great thing about meditation and deep breathing is that a 3-minute practice can rebalance your entire day. When planning breaks, allow a few extra minutes for some mindfulness. You won’t miss that 5 minutes at lunch, and you’ll feel clearer and more balanced. If you find yourself having acute anxiety, stress or worry, take a “bathroom” break. No one can fault you for using the facilities, and those few moments can be used to quiet the mind and calm the body. Walking to work or on one or more of your breaks is also a good opportunity to do some breathing and meditation. Plus, getting your steps will help you maintain an ideal weight, sleep better and have better sex – oh my!
How Companies are Focusing on Less Stress
From office pets to in-house gyms, many companies are looking for ways to help their employees de-stress at work. Other examples of workplace innovations aimed at busting stress include in-office spas, group adventure outings, on-site meditation rooms, providing ongoing wellness lectures and vacation spending bonuses. Why would workplaces go to such lengths to help employees handle stress? The answer is improved productivity, less turnover and healthier employees who need fewer sick days. Here’s to less stress in the workplace and more support for maintaining our inner calm.
Amy Myszko is a Certified Clinical Herbalist and Certified Lactation Counselor and has been practicing herbalism and nutrition since 2007. She recently graduated with a master’s degree in Lactation and is pursuing a career as a Holistic Lactation Therapist.