Whatever line of work you’re in, reducing stress levels is a sure way to find more joy and peace in each experience. Here’s an easy-to-digest list of ways to experience less stress at work, so you can see more opportunities to smile during the week.
“We don’t know all the reasons that propel us on a spiritual journey, but somehow our life compels us to go. Something in us knows that we are not just here to toil at our work. There is a mysterious pull to remember.” – Jack Kornfield, After the Ecstasy, the Laundry
We don’t need to believe we’re on a spiritual journey to experience less stress at work, though it might help. Regardless of that, I do believe we’re here not just to toil at our work, but to co-create more beautiful experiences on this planet–whether it’s through what we do or how we do it.
When we add up all the little positive habits we cultivate in life, they tend to paint a large-scale picture of what our lives look like, inside and out. Since stress at work is a commonplace complaint, let’s look at small solutions to a broad issue. Perhaps there are no little things…
Have Less Stress at Work, and More Chances to Smile
Take 5-30 minutes in the morning to be quiet. Meditate, stretch, drink a cup of tea, gaze out the window, and be with yourself. Resist the temptation to turn on the news, check your email, or dive into social media first thing in the morning.
Set an intention for the day. How do you want this day to go? How do you want to feel? Who do you want to be? Clarity of intention is a key to success. Find or think of a positive affirmation or mantra to help you co-create the kind of experiences you want to have today.
Drive slower than usual. On the highway, drive in the right lane and experiment with going exactly the speed limit, or 5 miles an hour under the speed limit. Of course, you may need to leave a few minutes earlier than normal so that you can take your time.
While driving, pay attention to your physical experience. Are you tensing your muscles, gripping the steering wheel tightly, or breathing shallow breaths? How does it feel to be in your body? Practice bringing awareness to each muscle group, slowly breathing into those places and loosening your grip.
Experiment with noise during your commute. Instead of listening to the same radio station, you may enjoy listening to an audio book, or a relaxing CD or music station. I really enjoy my Liquid Mind Pandora station, and I listen to it in my car when I need a lift, or a break from the normal sounds of daily life.
Take a moment of silence before changing your environment. When you arrive at work and before you head into the workplace, take a brief moment to close your eyes and breath a few long, slow, deep breaths. Repeat your positive affirmation–for inner peace, positivity, happy relationships, or something else–before you get out of your car.
Breathe in time with your steps. You may need to walk a little slower so that your inhales and exhales can match your pace. Maybe you inhale for a count of four while taking four steps, and then exhale for a count of four while taking four or more steps. Play with this on each trip to and from your car, your desk, and the bathroom.
Focus on one thing. If you’re walking, just focus on walking. If you’re speaking with a customer or coworker, give them your full attention and be present with the conversation. Keep open tabs to a minimum, and dedicate your concentration to one task at a time.
Take consistent breaks to move, stretch, and look at something else. Every hour may be ideal, even if it’s only for a minute or two, to regroup and recoup. Set aside certain times of the day to get up, move your joints, stretch your neck and shoulders, walk into another room, drink water, do a few jumping jacks, or look away from whatever you’ve been looking at. Find what makes sense for you.
Change your environment at lunch. A switch of scenery can work a lot of wonders for your mind, body, and spirit. A new wave of inspiration might even come over you to help you with your work.
Take moments of silence. When you come back to your work after lunch (or after each break), take a moment of silence to repeat the same affirmation or mantra that you started your morning with. Reconnect with what really matters to you today.
Practice relaxed walking. Whenever you’re walking from one location to another, consciously walk slower and taller. What does it feel like to walk without rushing?
Create an oasis within yourself. It’s easy to get pulled into drama and gossip at work, so just cultivate an awareness of this. You might find that you can be a mirror for the light in others, instead of the stress in others. You can set an example of what it’s like to value your inner world over what’s happening around you.
Pause before you drive home. At the end of the workday, while your car is warming up/cooling down, take a moment of silence before you head home. Close your eyes and repeat your affirmation or mantra to yourself, getting back into that peaceful space.
Bring your attention back to your body. On your drive home, keep bringing your attention back to the physical experience of driving. Are you tense? Are your shoulders raised? Is your brow furrowed? Make a conscious intention to relax your muscles. Again, try listening to calming music or a book on CD if you need to unwind.
Pause before you walk into your home. When you arrive at home, take one more moment of silence (10 seconds will do), closing your eyes for a big inhale and a slow exhale (or two).
Greet your home with gratitude. Greet each person or animal that you live with with as much gratitude as you can, looking into their eyes and honoring their presence. You can even look at yourself in the mirror. You may feel enthusiasm some days, tenderness on others, and frustration at times. Whatever you’re feeling, try to consciously generate sincere appreciation for something or someone.
- Which of the above practices are you willing to try?
- How do you reduce stress at work now? Are there any practices that really work for you?
Please share your thoughts, stress-relieving practices, positive affirmations for the workday, morning and evening routines for peace, and any inspiring experiences with me in the comments.
Share these tips for lowering stress at work with someone who might appreciate them and apply them.
Life is much more than the stress you encounter; sometimes, it’s all about how you approach your life encounters.