Stress costs American businesses an estimated $300 billion dollars annually. We are stressed more than ever, but we don’t need to sit and stew in it. Mindfulness is an incredibly effective tool for combating stress, and there’s no barrier to entry. Anyone can start using it today to stress less.
If you’re looking for ways to impact the bottom line of your business, this is a perfect place to start. Many businesses are already implementing stress-remediation programs for their employees. If you own your business, you can consider doing this, too. If you’re an employee, you can recommend it to the business owner – and regardless, you can start with yourself now!
Here are five ways you can practice mindfulness to reduce stress at work:
Recognize Stress When It’s Happening.
Allow yourself to recognize when stress is coming up in your body. Name it, and identify what you are feeling and where. For example, “I feel stressed; my neck is tightening up. I feel anxious; my stomach feels upset. I feel agitated; I’m tapping my feet a lot.” Naming the emotion and observing where it is occurring physically in your body is one way to use mindfulness to step into awareness and out of the intensity of the emotional state.
Observe Yourself Without Judgment.
In recognizing how you are feeling, take a moment to look at yourself as you would a dear friend. Observe yourself with kindness and compassion, not judgment. Ask your inner critic to take a back seat while you give yourself the caring you need to get through this moment.
Practice the pause. Take a slow, deep breath and exhale slowly. Repeat this four or five times. Pay attention to your breath and count the number of breaths. Again, this takes you out of the intensity of your stressful feelings.
Give Yourself Reminders.
I like to use little colored dot stickers. You can find these at most any office supply store. Place a sticker on your computer, on your work phone, even on your dashboard in your car. When you see the sticker, take that as your cue to take a slow, deep breath.
Keep a Here-and-Now Stone on Your Desk.
Find any stone that feels good in the palm of your hand. It doesn’t need to be fancy; you can find one in your yard, on a walk, or even at an arts and crafts store. Keep this stone on your desk at work and pick it up any time you feel stressed. Really feel the stone in your hands. Focus mindfully on its texture, its temperature, its weight, then look at it and observe its shape and color and any patterns. I like to call this a “here-and-now stone” because it brings you right into the present moment, stopping the loop of discursive thoughts that were stressing you out.