Manage Your Stress Mindfully
Stress in today’s work environment is expensive. It can rob you of the creative and mental energy it takes to perform tasks effectively and can also make you physically ill. Research has shown that employees who do not manage their stress and anxiety levels have higher risk of heart attack, illness and disease.
The good news is that stress and anxiety can be alleviated by incorporating a few simple mindfulness techniques into your day. Mindfulness based techniques allow you to stay in the moment without judgement. You don’t need a special gym membership or equipment. Mindfulness can be practiced anywhere, anytime, and at your own comfort level.
Here are some helpful hints on how to get started:
Breath Awareness – Most adults take shallow breathes. This lack of deep healthy breathing limits the amount of oxygen that goes to the brain which can lead to unnecessary anxiety. The next time you have a few minutes, waiting in a line or sitting in traffic for example, take a full deep breath that goes all the way down to your belly and expands through your chest. By becoming aware of your breathing and slowing it down, you will find that you handle the day-to-day stressors of life with a bit more ease.
Meditation – Not all meditation is sitting crossed-legged on a mountain top. Taking ten minutes during the day to clear your mind and be present in the moment will help you to better manage your stress and anxiety. Dr. Elizabeth Hodge, Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Georgetown University Medical Center, recently found that people who learned to meditate were able to lower a stress hormone (known as ACTH) as well as "markers of inflammation called pro-inflammatory cytokines.”
Mindful Exercise - There is a huge movement taking place in communities across the country. Go to any small or large city and you will find a number of mindfulness practices such as yoga, tai chi and qigong that are gaining popularity in large part due to their calming results. You can find a number of places to practice in addition to countless YouTube videos and apps that can be downloaded to meet your desired practice. When engaging in mindful training be sure to keep the following in mind:
- Clear your mind. Let go of your ‘to do’ list and focus on each pose. Mindful exercise helps you take the attention away from the demands of your busy schedule and responsibilities and focus on your breath.
- Stay in the moment. Don’t judge how good or bad you are at getting in and out each pose or movement. Simply be present and accept where you are at that moment.
- Enjoy the journey. Keep an open mind and enjoy the way your body moves and changes as you build strength, flexibility and a sense of peace and calm.
The ability to manage stress mindfully will determine your success in your work life and balance at home. If you find yourself constantly challenged by competing demands and multiple priorities, take a time out to breathe deeply, clear your mind and stay in the moment.
ASK A MENTOR
Effectively managing stress is paramount to your overall health and wellbeing. Making a point to purposely put into place some daily measures to manage stress will quickly become habit. The next time you meet with your mentor, plan to share what you both see as potential stressors and discuss ways you can prevent of manage them. Consider the following:
What situations do you find most stressful?
Could any of them be avoided with forethought and planning?
What are some ways to prevent them from happening?
What is your go-to for lessening stress or decompressing after a challenging day?
Are there any group activities that you find helps to alleviate stress?
What mindfulness techniques or exercises do you regularly participate in?
What obstacles are getting in the way of investing in your mental and physical wellness?
How can you overcome them?