It's easy to get carried away and feel stressed by a heavy workload, a noisy work environment or an approaching deadline. Unfortunately, prolonged stress can cause or exacerbate health problems and negatively affect your hormonal balance.
Mindfulness is a great and proven way to combat stress and overwhelm, and the best part is that you can do it from anywhere, whenever you want.
Below, I'll share three exercises you can do on your way to work, at work, or after work. With a little practice and a reminder on your phone or post-it, you can easily incorporate them into your routine.
In this type of meditation, you focus on the sensations in your body.
This can be helpful if you are stressed, in pain, overwhelmed or just want to take a break and see how and what you feel. Studies show that becoming aware of this can help you relax and lower your cortisol levels.
After taking a few deep breaths, you can begin to "scan" your body from head to toe or vice versa. You can start with your feet, are they on the ground?
Moving up, how do your legs feel? Do they feel heavy and tired? Or full of energy? You can bring your attention to how each body part feels and become fully aware of your body.
Taking 10 minutes a day to do this meditation can have multiple benefits. Tension that you might not realise you’re holding can be relieved. Are you clenching your jaw, do your shoulders feel tense or do you curl your toes?
If you are in a noisy environment and easily distracted, try putting on headphones or earplugs.
If you find yourself in a stressful situation at work or want to prepare yourself for a hectic day, this exercise is for you!
You may already be familiar with rhythmic breathing from yoga or meditation exercises. Taking a few minutes each day to focus your attention on the present moment and concentrate on your breathing can help you relax and calm your nervous system.
The 4-7-8 breathing technique works as follows: You inhale through your nose for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 7 seconds, and exhale through your mouth for 8 seconds. Repeat this a few times.
If you find that this breathing pattern doesn't work for you, you can experiment and find your own preferred pattern. This exercise is about connecting with your body through your breathing, avoiding shallow breathing and thereby signaling to your body that you are safe.
Five Senses Exercise
In this exercise, you focus on your surroundings using your five senses. This can help break out of negative thought patterns, bring you back to the "now" and calm you down.
Find a position where you feel relaxed and take a few deep breaths. Then concentrate on your individual senses.
Notice 5 things that you can see
Look around and notice what’s around you.
Notice 4 things that you can feel
For example, feel the seat or floor you are sitting or standing on, or the feel of your clothes on your skin.
Notice 3 things that you can hear
What sounds are there in the background that you don't normally notice?
Notice 2 things that you can smell
It doesn't matter if the smells are pleasant or unpleasant.
Notice 1 thing that you can taste
If you can't taste anything in particular, you can take a piece of fruit or chocolate or drink something and focus on that taste.
I hope this short introduction was helpful for you. If you want to see more tips like this, check out my Instagram channel!
Hoge, E.A., Bui, E., Marques, L., et al. (2013). Randomized controlled trial of mindfulness meditation for generalized anxiety disorder: effects on anxiety and stress reactivity. The Journal of clinical psychiatry, 74(8), 0-0.
Janssen, M., Heerkens, Y., Kuijer, W., Van Der Heijden, B., & Engels, J. (2018). Effects of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction on employees’ mental health: A systematic review. PloS one, 13(1), e0191332.