In our struggling economy, with 13 million people out of work and those employed expecting to do more work than less, the general consensus is “stress”. I work as a wellness consultant and also pair that title with meditation instructor. A core teaching I foster is that of the practice of pause and renewal. These skills are essential in the balance of work, health, relationships, and play.
On a weekly basis working with individuals to larger organizations, I hear the following statements about the state of the work place.
“ I am not sleeping well because I can’t turn the chatter of work responsibilities off before I go to bed.”
“I have so much to do that I don’t even feel I can get up and go to the bathroom.”
“ How do I manage working, exercise, making time to eat healthy, and be a good parent and wife?”
“ I never leave my desk at lunch and eat my meals either in the car or at my office desk.”
Do any of these statements feel like something you have said?
The very hard truth is that we can’t make stress disappear, especially with longer work hours and fewer people to do the work, but what we can do is work on our stress resilience.
Many of us have heard of the word stress management, but what I am speaking to is stress resilience. We aren’t merely trying to manage stress which might be reducing stress or trying to get rid of it. Instead the solution is finding better ways of coping knowing that stress is here and isn’t likely to go away. Dr. Richard Citrin defines stress resilience as “An individual anticipates stress- they know how to respond, which is calming, and then they can let go of the stress and get back to what is needed in the moment.
So how do we increase our resilience to stress?
Science tells us that it is important to have periods of intense focus with renewal time to be most productive and engaged. I developed 10 tips that I have taught to clients and organizations. I practice them myself and they REALLY work!
1) Frequent breaks during the day is vital.
For example, taking 15 minute breaks in the morning, afternoon, and an actual lunch break most days is a start. On average we take 20 minutes for lunch and most of us eat at our desks. Getting away for lunch will allow you to take a break. So where are you going for lunch today?
2) Prioritize your most important work when demands are high.
Do the most important thing first. You can write a checklist of what is most important to accomplish during the week and plan it out. I find on Sunday nights, I look at what has most priority and then I schedule it in. This is also a good time to schedule self care activities. I am going to take a walk during lunch on Wednesday and get up early on Tuesday to go to yoga.
3) Create Specific Start and Stop Times
Work for no more than 60 minutes (building up to 90 minutes without interruption). Turn off your email, cell phone, build specific start and stop times.
Exercise is vital to keeping our energy up and our bodies healthy. Try and get in the recommended dose of 30 minutes of cardio, 5x a week and 2 days of strength training (weights, yoga, swimming, or pilates will meet this).
6) Bring your values into your work life
For example: If you have a value of being kind to others, be kind to others at work via email, meetings, ect.
7) Make Sure you are getting enough sleep.
Most of us need 7-8 hours of sleep, but if you are only getting 5-6 this means you are always starting off the day a little on empty.
8) Practice Mindfulness and Relaxation at Work
As a wellness consultant and meditation teacher, this is the tool I utilize the most. You can meditate before or after work to bring more peace and calm and I recommend this and practice this myself. Additionally, integrating mindful pauses through the workday to incorporate those breaks is essential for productivity and creativity at work.
Here is a tool, you might try to help you get started. Stillness Buddy is mindfulness technology at its best. You can sign up for a 14 day FREE Trial here! I personally have Jack Kornfield on my computer. I consider the Spirit Rock Meditation Center to be my spiritual home, so Jack feels like a good friend encouraging me to slow down.
Are you ready, start flexing this new muscle today!