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Want to Be More Mindful at Work? These 9 Tactics Actually Work

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These smart tips from mindfulness pros will help you stay calm—even when you’re most stressed out.

Discover mindfulness and relieve stress at work with these 9 tactics

Whether you work in an office, work from home, or even work in a yoga studio, it’s likely your job causes some stress and anxiety at times. As human beings, it’s basically impossible not to feel stressed at the office. To wit: The American Institute of Stress found that work is actually the greatest cause of stress in the U.S. What’s more, a survey by Attitudes in the American Workplace VII found 80% of workers feel stress on the job, nearly half say they need help in learning how to manage stress, and 42% say their coworkers need help, too.

The good news? A strong mindfulness practice can make a big difference when it comes to mitigating some of this stress. Mindfulness is all about experiencing the present moment. When you’re conscious of your thoughts, you can be more aware of your responses and actions— especially in a workplace, where tensions can run high.

See also The Ultimate Guide to Energy Healing

“Mindfulness helps us gain greater self-knowledge and awareness, allowing us to observe and perceive ourselves and the world in an intentional and non-judgmental way,” says Molly Porth Cabrera, a vinyasa and prenatal yoga teacher and birth doula in Mexico City.

This type of self-knowledge (and non-judgment) can be especially helpful in a work setting. Why? Mindfulness prevents us from jumping to emotional conclusions about things like an e-mail you might be annoyed by, someone’s less-than-friendly tone, or not having a file on time that you were supposed to have received. In fact, a recent study by University of British Columbia researchers found that conflict decreased when teams were more mindful at work; mindfulness helped decrease frustration and ensured team members were less harsh and quick to get angry with one another.

Ready to usher in more mindfulness at work with tactics that’ll actually stick? Here are 9 to try this week.

See also 6 Ways Meditation Can Help You Feel Happier at Work

1. Act, don’t react. 

Before you respond to a situation at work, breathe, says Lisa O’Rear, a yoga teacher in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. “Take a moment during the day to observe your breath,” she says. “We often spend our day reacting instead of responding to our circumstances and surroundings. Practicing a deeper connection to your breath will help you stay calm, focus, and be more present.” 

2. Set small, daily mindfulness goals at your job.

Try a goal of meditating for one minute each day in the middle of the workday. Even the smallest break can make a big difference when it comes to switching our mental gears and avoiding anxiety, says Chelsea Fleming, a yoga teacher in Brigantine, New Jersey. “Meditation does not need to be lengthy,” she says. “It can mean going for a walk without your phone, setting an alarm for five minutes and zoning out, or practicing breathwork in your parked car after a long day at work. Set a small, realistic goal and work your way up from there.”

See also 10 Things Most of Us Don’t Do When Trying to Achieve a Goal—But Should

Find mindfulness at work by setting goals and taking small breaks throughout the day.

3. Hide your phone.

Whether you’re attempting to write an e-mail or conduct a face-to-face meeting, simply having your phone in sight can be distracting. Make a new rule to not bring phones to meetings, or vow to put it in a drawer where it’s “hidden” during serious work time. “Carrying your cell phone around less will drastically change your behavior,” says Goldie Graham, a yoga teacher in La Jolla, California. “The energy of the phone in general is vibrationally yucky. If you try just one tip, make it this one.”

4. Eat mindfully throughout the day. 

Mindful eating has been shown to be hugely helpful for health and wellbeing. Meg Townsend, a Philadelphia-based ayurvedic yoga specialist, reiki master teacher, and retreat curator for Real Living Yoga suggests taking a few moments before you begin to eat to connect the process of eating with each sense. “Look at your food and how it was prepared. Take in the enticing aroma of what you’re about to eat. Then as you take a bite, chew slowly and notice how your mouth identifies flavors and texture, and listen to the sound of your chewing,” says Townsend. “When you give yourself this time to eat mindfully, you’re more likely to feel satisfied with your meal and your body will digest and assimilate the food with more ease. This practice of being fully present and mindful of your meal can be a most powerful shift towards vibrant health.”

See also The Mindful Diet Week 1: Build an Awareness Foundation

Improve your health and mindfulness at work by eating with intention. 

4. Take five minutes to check in at work. 

Take a moment every morning—even if you’re busy—to turn your focus inward and check in with your mind and body. “My favorite way to tap in to my mind-body connection is through my breath,” says Fleming. Do a quick body scan and notice if there are any areas of stiffness or tension. Without judgement or labels of any pain or discomfort, start to deepen your breath.

5. Create little rituals. 

Rituals are a great way to practice mindfulness before, after, and at work— whether it’s taking a mindful walk during your lunch hour or closing your eyes in a quiet conference room for 5 minutes. “Before my lengthy work day, I light a candle and bring it into the shower with me,” says Fleming. “Instead of rushing through my shower and worrying about the tasks at hand, I watch the flame of the candle dance and clear my head. The ritual of lighting a candle brings focus into the mundane, and an opportunity for worry transforms into an opportunity for peace.”

See also A Guided Meditation You Can Practice Anywhere

Practice mindfulness at work by creating little rituals for yourself. 

6. Use your five senses to become more aware.

Engaging with the five senses can be a powerful way to bring more mindfulness into your daily work life. “Your senses are how you interact with the world around you,” says Townsend. “As you connect with each sense, stay aware of your breath and anchor in the present moment: Pause and look around to notice certain things you might not normally notice, like the light dancing on the wall or a leaf shaking in the wind. Listen to the sounds you’re perceiving close to you and also the ones at a distance. Notice the sensation of your clothing on your skin and the breath in your nostrils. If you’re outside, you might tune into the heat of the sun on your skin or a refreshing cool breeze. As crazy as it might sound, simply smelling the coffee as it brews or feeling the softness of your computer keyboard keys can go a long way toward grounding you in the present moment—and helping you be more mindful all day.

7. Keep a gratitude journal next to your to-do list.

“Circling back to the things we have—however big or small—can create a strong sense of gratitude and mindfulness,” says Fleming. Want to mix things up a bit? Name at least one “silly” thing that brings you joy, like your garbage disposal or matching socks, she adds. “Keep a journal on your desk at work and jot down three things a day you’re grateful for, and make it a daily mindfulness ritual.”

See also 7 Ways to Start a Gratitude Journaling Practice

Jotting down what you’re grateful for increases mindfulness at work. 

8. Turn off e-mail notifications and delete time-zapping apps.

“So often we become immersed in the digital that we lose our true selves,” says Fleming. “Social media and work obligations play a huge role in this. When we have all of these open in the palm of our hands, they also take up space in the mind.” For Fleming, deleting the Facebook app on her phone has ushered in a lot more mindfulness. “Having to manually log in every time I wanted to scroll through my feed makes accessing the site harder, which means I’m more mindful of how much I actually use it.” Fleming also recommends turning off email notifications, so it’s easier to focus on one task at a time—and to avoid getting lured by the “ping” of e-mails and messages that threaten your new mindfulness practices.

See also 3 Science-Backed Reasons to Put Down Your Phone

About the Author

Gina Tomaine is a Philadelphia-based writer and editor. She is currently Deputy Lifestyle Editor of Philadelphia magazine, and previously served as Associate Deputy Editor of Rodale’s Organic Life. Her work can be seen in Women’s Health, Runner’s World, Prevention and elsewhere. Learn more at ginatomaine.com. 



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A 5-Minute Meditation to Release Anxiety

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Detach from anxiety and come back to the present.

Rina Deshpande shares her quick 5-minute meditation to release anxiety and let go of attachments. 

See also What’s the Difference Between Cultural Appropriation and Cultural Appreciation?



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Yoga Helped Me Face My Fears About Marriage Once and For All

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I went to Mexico to rejuvenate, detox, and practice yoga with my boyfriend. Turns out, it would also be where I faced my fears about marriage.

It was a humid sunrise on a quiet, sandy beach in Tulum, Mexico. Despite our previous late-night mezcal tasting beneath the jungle leaves, my longtime boyfriend, Anush, had dragged me out of our tiny thatched-roof cabana at first light.

I adjusted my Beyoncé t-shirt and gray cotton shorts I’d worn to bed as I scanned the horizon. When I turned back to Anush, he was kneeling in the sand, holding a typed love letter and a tourmaline engagement ring.

“Will you marry me?” He asked.

I was so incredulous, I couldn’t speak. Feelings of doubt and darkness coursed through me, even though I’d always imagined a future with him: He was the one person who made me feel seen and cared for and uplifted. Still, I was reluctant to commit.

My parents went through a dramatic and corrosive divorce when I was 13, but the fallout had lasted long after. Most of the great pain in my life has come from marriage—and its ending. Marriage is the thing that has made me most likely to run, and least likely to trust

See also This Guided Meditation Will Inspire You to Live From Your Heart

As I stared at the man I love, these past traumas lit my body from head to toe with alarm bells. How could I marry anyone? But, as I looked at him, I calmed myself down. I silently told myself something I had learned in my yoga and mindfulness practice: Be here now. With that mantra, I slowly came back to the moment. With that mantra, I reminded myself where I was, who I was with—and most importantly, who I am now.

He waited patiently. I started to cry. Finally, I said, “Yes! Yes. Yes. Of course, yes.” He put the ring on my finger, and he held me while I cried. In that moment of “yes,” my world expanded.

We drank champagne and ate fruit in front of the ocean while the Tulum sun rose, pink and hot on our skin. I could hardly believe my good fortune—engaged in Tulum at sunrise. In that moment, instead of fear, I chose gratitude.

I saw a beachfront yoga class almost immediately after—Tulum, thankfully is crawling with them—and I asked my fiance(!), if he’d like to take it together. I was still shaking from the metamorphic decision I had made: unwavering commitment in the face of fear. I hoped familiar asana would steady me. Internally, I repeated my mantra as we walked into a large triangular wood pavilion, perched on a hidden natural cliff in the jungle, overlooking the beach as if it had been there forever.

See also 17 Poses to Prep for Mindful Meditation

Our yoga teacher, a young woman from Mexico City with a sing-song voice, instructed us to let go of our fears, to open our hearts, to experience the beauty of the moment we were in.

I was exactly where I needed to be. I still had my dark corners—I may always—but I could learn to live with them and still claim the life I wanted and deserve. I could live in the present and not in the past. I could be here now, soaking in the jungle, the ocean, in a magnificent place where afterward we would eat fresh coconut and bike carefree down the beach road and hike up Mayan ruins and speak a little Spanish and accept a glorious chocolate mole cake that said “Felicidades.”

As I looked over at the joyful, patient man doing yoga next to me, the waves crashed out ahead. I took his hand for just an instant, and he smiled. And then we raised our arms together, side-by-side, to salute the sun.

See also 7 Simple Ways to Call in More Joy—and Feel Less Stressed

About our author

Gina Tomaine is a yoga teacher and magazine editor in Philadelphia. Her work has been published in Prevention, Women’s Health, Runner’s World, and other publications. Learn more at gina-tomaine.com. 



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6 Yoga Teachers Share What They Never Travel Without

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Yoga teachers weigh in on what they can’t travel without—plus, our favorite must-brings for every adventure.

Twelve items to pack for your next trip as recommended by these yoga teachers.
Women’s UA Rival Hoodie

1. Under Armour Cotton Fleece Logo Hoodie

“A sweatshirt with pockets and a big-enough hood that I can pull over my eyes and take a quick snooze or do a little yoga nidra on the plane.” —Rosie Acosta
($45, underarmour.com)

Vuori Performance Jogger

2. Vuori Performance Jogger 

($84, vuoriclothing.com)

See also 
5 Poses to Practice in a Cramped Airplane Seat

Magic Bullet Mini

3. Magic Bullet Mini

“I love having the ability to make matcha or a smoothie wherever I go. It’s a game-changer.” —Eoin Finn 

($30, amazon.com)

Primal Defense Ultra Probiotic Formula

4. Primal Defense Ultra Probiotic Formula 

($36, amazon.com)

Ujjaya Balance Bottle

5. Ujjaya Balance Bottle

($40, ujjaya.com)

See also This Energizing Matcha Lime Smoothie Will Help You Wake Up Without the Caffeine Spike

BCOZZY Chin Supporting Travel Pillow

6. BCOZZY Chin Supporting Travel Pillow

“A travel pillow that supports my neck is vital for falling asleep on the plane!” —Rina Jakubowicz

 ($30, bcozzy.com)

Mantisyoga Guru Backpack

7. Mantisyoga Guru Backpack

($150, amazon.com)

Bose QuietComfort 35 Wireless Headphones II

8. Bose QuietComfort 35 Wireless Headphones II 

($350, bose.com)

See also Yoga at the Airport: 5 Poses for a Long Layover

HITOP Classic Plaid Tartan Blanket Scarf

9. HITOP Classic Plaid Tartan Blanket Scarf 

“An oversized scarf and my essential oils: I put the oils on my neck and wrap the scarf around me so I can push out airplane germs.” —Kathryn Budig

(from $14, amazon.com)

Pangea Organics Frank-incense Essential Oil Roller

10. Pangea Organics Frank-incense Essential Oil Roller

“Frankincense helps me connect with my intuition and stay grounded while traveling—plus, it doubles as an organic insect repellent!” —Lauren Eckstrom

 ($30, pangeaorganics.com)

See also 5 Essential Oils Combos That Smell Better Than Your Favorite Candles

Yoga For Bad People Travel Mat

11. Yoga For Bad People Travel Mat

“My travel mat is great for practicing in tropical and humid climes, and it’s super yummy when thrown over a gym or hotel mat—extra cushion without the gunk!” —Heather Lilleston

($86, yogaforbadpeople.com)

Vivobarefoot Primus Lite Shoe

12. Vivobarefoot Primus Lite Shoe 

($130, vivobarefoot.com)

See also These Are the Sandals That Keep Traveling Yogis Happy



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