No matter how great of a workplace culture you have, we all face stressful situations in our work lives. These can range from minor annoyances to major panic attacks. Basic communication issues or more serious worries, such as an entire project done incorrectly from the start can play a part in raising our stress levels.
No matter the cause, a stress response floods our body with hormones. Our heart pounds, our breathing increases, and our muscles tense as stress levels increase. (Stress also releases cortisol into our bloodstream, which causes WEIGHT GAIN, adding even more stress!)
A stress response is a normal reaction to threatening situations rooted in our prehistory. We need it to aid in survival from animal attacks or natural disasters that we rarely face today, but challenging situations in our workday can set off that same stress response. To cope with unexpected challenges, we can develop healthier methods to respond to stress.
Consider the relaxation response, which is the opposite of the stress response. We can create a mental state of rest that, with regular practice, can change our state to a more relaxed mindset.
My partner, who worked at the Chopra Center, shared these with me.
• Energy Enlivening Techniques- We can calm ourselves and improve physical and mental health by focused breathing through the nostrils while cleaning and strengthening the lungs to remove toxins from the body. Drinking plenty of water, eating whole foods, and walking in the early morning or late afternoon sunlight awakens our energy. Using a complete breath to fill our belly like a balloon allows the lungs to fill up, expand the ribs and raise our chest. Follow this with a gentle exhale and squeeze your belly button toward your spine, deflating the balloon.
Repeat this action 6-10 times.
• Movement- Our movement releases stress and tension from the muscles to strengthen and tone internal organs to improve flexibility. Yoga, Tai Chi, Chi Kung, Walking, Swimming, and Hiking are a few examples. Chair Yoga is an excellent way to release stress by moving the spine in 6 directions. (Do this daily).
o Backbend (arching back)
o Forward Bend (round back)
o Side Bend (right side)
o Side Bend (left side)
o Twist Pose (turn right side)
o Twist Pose (turn left side)
• Relaxation- Relaxation leaves the body, mind, and spirit calm and grounded. It allows the body to absorb the energy released with the movement and energy enlivening techniques and gets us to a place that rejuvenates, revitalizes, and strengthens all the cells in our body. Close your eyes and relax, because where our attention goes, our energy flows! You can create a relaxation response at a desk or in a breakroom by sitting comfortably with closed eyes. Inhale “I am”...Exhale “relaxed.” Repeat 10-40 times. Feel and visualize every cell beginning to relax, then sit quietly, relaxed, for 3-5 minutes.
The techniques above are all possible in almost every workspace. Practicing this on breaks for 15 minutes a day can help us increase our ‘calm’ and reduce our stress.
At TMC, we encourage team members to find creative ways to reduce stress so that we can be at our best with each and every call to our valuable clients. We hope these suggestions are helpful for your team as well. The longer and more often we practice these relaxation techniques, the greater the benefits and the more we can reduce stress in our workspace.