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Reducing Stress in the Workplace

Reducing Workplace Stress

By Shelby Robinson
©Shelby Robinson
October 22, 2009

    Regardless of the type of work we do or where we do it, our jobs can involve quite a bit of stress.  But there are ways to minimize and manage stressful situations at work that can help us feel more calm and relaxed. If we use work as a place to  increase our self awareness, wisdom, and inner strength we can feel happier, be more productive, communicate better, and make better decisions. This, in turn, will effect how we feel and behave in all areas of our lives. Here are a few tips for reducing workplace stress:

1) Before you leave, take a quiet moment to acknowledge that you choose to go to work today.  Think about what you'll be doing on the job and gently remind yourself that things may or may not go as planned.
2) As you get ready to go to work, be aware of the whole process- eating, bathing, dressing, talking to people in your house, feeding your pets, etc.  Occasionally bring your awareness to your breathing and how your body feels.
3) Say your good-byes mindfully.  Slow down a bit to touch and make eye contact with the people in your house. If no one is up yet, you could write a short good morning note for them to read later.
4) If you walk to work or take a train or bus, notice how your body is as you stand, walk, sit, wait, and get off.  Smile a bit ( even inwardly) and breathe as you walk into work.
    If you ride a bike or drive to work, take a few moments before you leave to bring awareness to your breathe. Leave  your radio (or iPod) off occasionally and be with yourself without distraction.  When you get to work, just sit and breathe before going in.  Then walk into work with awareness, breathing and smiling (even inwardly).
5) While you work, occasionally bring your awareness to your body.  Notice where you feel tension. Notice how you're sitting or standing. Notice your body language.  Release tension as you exhale and shift your posture to feel more balanced and alert.
6) When you walk on the job, do it calmly. When you need to rush, be aware that this is what you're doing.
7) Use breaks to do what helps you genuinely relax. That cigarette and cup of coffee are NOT the best way! Go outside to walk or stand for a few minutes and do some deep breathing.  Drink water and stretch. Try our RSI Guard Stretch Break Software for regular reminders throughout the day. Close your door and sit quietly for a few minutes; notice your breath.
8) Eat a quiet lunch alone a few times a week.  Spend your breaks with people you're comfortable with; if this isn't an option, it may be better to spend this time alone.
Get away from work for lunch; pack your own and  go to a park.
9) Or eat a quick lunch and spend the rest of your lunch break exercising.  This is a great way to reduce stress, clear your mind, and start the second part of your day recharged and refreshed. Even just fifteen minutes can make a huge difference.
10) For at least a minute of every hour stop and focus on your breath tune in to the present. This can be a challenge since we all get caught up in the momentum of 'doing'.  But a micro-meditation can  be just the thing to help you regroup and re-energize.
11) Rather than spacing out, use everyday events as times to tune in to yourself- waiting for someone, the phone ringing, making a copy, etc.
12) As you communicate with people throughout your day, be aware of your interactions. Are they comfortable or are some difficult? How could you improve them? Could you be more sensitive to the needs and feelings of others? Could a change in your body language or tone of voice help facilitate communication? How might you more effectively approach those people who are 'difficult'? Being mindful of yourself can also effect those around you.
13) At the end of your workday, review the day's accomplishments and decide what you want to do tomorrow. Prioritize your list; what is really most important?
14) As you leave work at the end of the day be aware of the process and tune in to your body. How is your breathing? What is your posture like? Are you totally exhausted? Are you smiling or frowning?
15) If you walk home or take a train or bus, notice how your body is as you stand, walk, sit, wait, and get off. If you are rushing, try to slow down a bit and notice the transition between work and home.
    If you ride a car or bike home, take a few moments before you leave to bring awareness to your breathe. Then proceed home mindfully.
16) Before you walk into your home, remind yourself that you are 'coming home'.  Acknowledge this transition. Greet people in your house mindfully and personally, rather than yelling a quick 'Hello'.
17) As soon as possible, take off your shoes. Changing out of work clothes can help you transition more easily and consciously into 'being home'.
Try to make five minutes to meditate or sit quietly before doing anything else. You'll find it easier to make dinner and truly be with your family.

These are all just tips and ideas. As you become more aware of yourself, you'll find what works for you. We would love to hear other ideas you may have. Please send them to us through our website Contact form.

Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D.
The Hakomi Method of body-centered, mindfulness psychotherapy-

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