Beating Stress at Work

(I originally wrote this post for 12Most.comTaking a chill at work to reduce stress is challenging, as we all juggle the work-life merge. You have to make the time to do it, in the way that works for you. It’s highly unlikely your boss will “Om” you into a relaxed state, even though it might drive the innovation to create the next “Google.”

Today (April 16th) is National Stress Awareness Day. As I tell the executives I work with, there’s no quick fix to beat stress. Creating a stress-busting routine is more of an individual journey, than a destination. Think of your workday as a lab and try different experiments to consume the chaos.

To get a handle on stress, it helps to build up an arsenal of tools so you can harness a little “inner chill” when you need it most.

1. Take a few deep breaths

It’s not about a quick breath to calm you down, it’s about the science of the breath. Take deep breaths throughout the day, in through the nose, and out through the mouth. Breathing into the nostrils, stimulates the pre-frontal cortex of the brain. It triggers the release of stress-reducing hormones such as dopamine and serotonin.

2. Take a break from office gossip

Avoid the water cooler gossip factory. It’s important to cultivate healthy relationships at work, but diving into the trashing and bashing of fellow colleagues, managers and office politics just feeds negativity, is a time waster and induces stress.

3. Recharge with physical activity

Create healthy habits of exercise. Even just a walk outside around your building or some seated yoga postures are beneficial. Try to schedule a half hour of white space in your calendar twice a week, to take a movement break. Getting the blood and lymph flowing in the body is good for the immune system and reduces stress.

4. Modify your environment

Change your working conditions. Work from a conference room, head outside for a bit, or telecommute for a day. It gets your brain thinking differently. What can you put on your desk to generate positive thoughts? Try a family picture, small statue, knickknack, or just a post-it note with an inspirational phrase or word.

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