Over 73 percent of the American workforce experiences stress that causes psychological or physical symptoms. Forty-eight percent feel that their stress has gone up over the last five years. Fifty-four percent say that stress has caused fights with loved ones and almost 50 percent say stress keeps them awake at night.
Stress has become an epidemic. It’s so widespread, we often don’t even notice it. It’s just a part of everyday life. Yet it can sap our energy, vitality and zest for life if we’re not careful.
Mindfulness is an incredibly powerful tool for dealing with and handling workplace stress. Mindfulness can help reduce your body’s cortisol levels, which quickly lowers stress on a neurochemical level. It can also help you eliminate internal resistance, so you can meet life’s problems as exciting challenges rather than as taxing crises.
Here’s how to reduce workplace stress with mindfulness:
Center Yourself Before Beginning Your Work Day
Before you jump into the day, spend 5 to 10 minutes centering yourself. Use your favorite mindfulness practice to bring you into the present moment. Ground yourself in non-attachment. Experience the present moment as it is.
One proven basic practice is to pay attention to your breath. Begin by sitting down and setting the intention to be mindful. Remind yourself why you’re doing this—in this case to prepare yourself for the day or reduce stress.
Then just watch your breath. Don’t avoid any sensation that comes up and don’t try to create any particular experience. Just watch your experience, exactly as it is. Be relaxed, yet alert at the same time. As your awareness deepens, your stress will naturally dissipate. You capacity to handle stress for the rest of the day increases.
Doing this for just five to 10 minutes before your work day can work miracles for your stress levels.
Two Minutes, Twice a Day
Pause twice in your day to spend some time on mindfulness. Even just two minutes can transform your whole day. Anytime you find yourself feeling stressed, take a minute to be mindful. One great habit is to spend 2 minutes meditating right after taking your lunch break.
Let Go at the End of the Day
It’s very easy to take stress from the workday home with you. Spending five to 10 minutes on mindful breathing at the end of the day can be a great way to cleanly separate your work related stress from the rest of your life.
Sit down with the intention of ending your work day. Watch your breathing and notice all the sensations that arise. Breathe in and out while watching your breath, again doing nothing but being aware.
Taking the time to slow down, pause and be mindful sends a clear signal to your brain that you’re shifting gears. You move from a hectic work-time pace to a much more leisurely personal-time pace.
If you want less stress in your work, try adding these three habits to your daily routine. In total, they take less than 30 minutes and could easily be the most emotionally impactful 30 minutes of your life.