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Cultivate a Relaxation Practice at Work

Ever find yourself overwhelmed, anxious, or stressed while working?  Well, you are not alone.  Anxiety can lead to at lost productivity (on average at least four work days are lost a month due to anxiety) and a whopping 83% of US workers complain of work-related stress. Most people will experience these issues at work, and although it can be challenging to banish these negative experiences there are ways to cope.   

One simple way to relax at work is to use deep breathing techniques.  Slow, deep breaths relax the body in ways quick, shallow breathing does not — add to the fact that breathing requires no special equipment or upfront costs; and can be done virtually anywhere; and you have a simple, cost-effective method to get through the day.  In addition, breathing can help lower blood pressure and decrease stress (win/win).  And the health benefits just keep adding up.  It can also bring you back to center and help you retain your composure and concentration during tough situations at work. 

So, if you are struggling to figure out how to incorporate deep breathing into your work life, here are six tips to help get that breathing practice going at work.

  1. Make an Appointment.  Schedule it if you know you have a hectic day ahead of you.  Dedicating time to do it will help reinforce the action of doing it.  Honor it the way you would any other meeting on your calendar.  If you would not ignore an appointment with a client, then do not ignore an appointment to breathe.  Make it a priority.    
  2. Five Minutes Will Do It.  Or three or even ten seconds.  You do not need to dedicate hours to your practice.  Any amount of time can be beneficial.  In fact, you may want to start small and increase over time.  The point is to do it – no matter how long you do it for.
  3. There is No One Size Fits All.  There are many ways to breathe, from alternate nostril breathing, to diaphragmatic, and even lion’s breath, there is no “right” method.  Test them out, see what works for you, and reap the benefits.  Consistency is more important than technique, so do not stress over a certain method.  Experiment until you find what works.    
  4. Create the Space.  Find a quiet, relaxing place for yourself.  If possible, step away from your electronics or work space.  An outside location may make the experience more enjoyable.  Look for ways to facilitate a warm, inviting atmosphere.  And if all else fails, sit down, close your eyes, and put on some headphones – wherever you are.  The main point is to do it.
  5. Buddy Up.  Never underestimate the power of group work.  You may find it more fun to recruit coworkers.  Schedule a recurring appointment and commit to it.  Before you know it, your group of three will grow to a dozen.  The accountability that can come from the group can help turn breathing into a routine. 
  6. Think Outside the Box.  Breathing at work doesn’t necessarily mean breathing AT work.  If your day is jam packed and you cannot possibly afford to step away, consider creating a routine during your commute or while you are on hold for a call.  You can also start a meeting by asking everyone to take a few deep breathes.  Walking to and from the car, bus, etc., can be a time to put that new breathing technique to work. 

Sources:

https://www.stress.org/42-worrying-workplace-stress-statistics

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=Effects%20of%20mental%20relaxation%20and%20slow%20breathing%20in%20essential%20hypertension.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5455070/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20617660

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