Are you in search of more work-life balance? Try applying these simple yogic philosophies to your daily routine:
1. Tap into the power of your breath.
Have you ever been so wrapped up in a project or focused on an impending deadline that you find yourself holding your breath as you work? This type of tensing is more common than you think. People easily lose track of their breathing, don’t breathe normally, or cause their heart rate to increase due to stress while under a deadline or mental strain.
A 2016 New York Times article and interview with Dr. Richard Brown, an associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University and co-author of The Healing Power of the Breath, noted that “many maladies, such as anxiety and depression, are aggravated or triggered by stress. Dr. Brown went on to share, ‘I have seen patients transformed by adopting regular breathing practices … When you take slow, steady breaths, your brain gets the message that all is well and activates the parasympathetic response, said Dr. Brown. When you take shallow rapid breaths or hold your breath, the sympathetic response is activated.’ ”
Be conscious of how you are breathing while you work, and take a moment before you begin to breathe deeply and think about how you can accomplish the needed tasks with the minimum amount of unnecessary stress. If you are a procrastinator, get out of that habit now- planning ahead and thoughtful time management allows for more opportunities to walk away from your work, clear your mind, create new ideas, and catch your breath.
A popular health and wellness site, Mercola.com, published and Dec. 2016 article that illustrates the importance of balancing stress through controlled breathing and shares techniques that aid in breath control to reduce anxiety and panic attacks.
“This sequence helps retain and gently accumulate carbon dioxide, leading to calmer breathing, and reduces anxiety. In other words, the urge to breathe will decline as you go into a more relaxed state:
- Take a small breath into your nose, followed by a small breath out
- Then hold your nose for five seconds in order to hold your breath, and then release your nose to resume breathing
- Breathe normally for 10 seconds
- Repeat the sequence.”
Throw in an occasional lion’s breath to stretch your jaw muscles, which are among the most common muscles to tense when we are working hurriedly.
Another ideal option is to use aromatherapy at work and home. The combination of essential oils and a diffuser can help you relax, balance your breathing, and get through your busy day with a sense of ease.
2. Be mindful of your core.
In Yoga, Pilates, CrossFit, and weight training we know this means being conscious of your posture, spine alignment, and movement. In work, this can also be applied to your core abilities or your core values. Being mindful of what you want, what you are comfortable supporting, and how you make key choices, such as your reactions to customer complaints, how you treat others, and how you respond in a crisis, all comes back to your core values.
When you know what you value in your life, you make better choices. And, knowing your limitations can actually be a strength- not a fault. Having a clear understanding of your core strengths and abilities will also add to your confidence level. Take a compliment next time it is given, know your contributions, and track your accomplishments throughout the year. When something falls outside of your comfort zone or wheelhouse, don’t be afraid to speak up and share your concerns or ask for help. In the end, it will make you better.
Knowing your values on how you treat others is equally important. So, the next time someone shows up in your space with the latest gossip or criticism of others, let them know your core values as well and walk away.
3. Take a rest.
As days get busy in the office it is easy to lose track of time and lose track of the mental breaks we all need. In exercise, we don’t just continue to push ourselves without any momentary breaks, so shouldn’t the same be true of our workday.
Take a moment to step away from your desk. In 8-10 minutes you can take a walk, visit with someone, grab a tea or coffee, and reboot. Make the most of your lunch break too. Since we usually get an hour for lunch, and it only takes 20-30 minutes to eat, take a walk, stretch, or do simple in-office yoga.
4. Bring awareness.
Like breathing and relaxation techniques, awareness is essential to get through your day feeling happier and healthier. Take note of daily stressors or things that trigger tension in your day. Is it that gossipy colleague, all those last-minute deadlines, or an inability to stop and take a moment to recalibrate?
Becoming aware of stressors can help you manage them better. If it is that colleague who never works and only seems to critique others unfairly, set boundaries and distance yourself. If it’s tight deadlines, anticipate busy times and get things cleared off your agenda to manage peak times better, and if it is your inability to stop – change it- as this is fully within your control whether it feels like it is or not.
Take a moment to de-stress and relax by using a massage ball to unburden tense muscles in your shoulders, neck, and back. Listen to relaxing music on Youtube. Close your door and take a minute to stretch back in your chair or close your eyes and breathe. If you don’t have an office, find a quiet unoccupied place to stretch and relax, like an empty conference room or breakroom.
5. Cultivate strength.
I have found that the more I incorporate exercise into my lifestyle routine, the better I get at relaxing and letting go. I find that it not only helps me build my physical agility but it also increases my mental acuity. Exercise is key to total wellness, bottom line.
If possible, create an afternoon yoga class at work. There is so much free stuff on Youtube that it makes it practically impossible to make excuses. If you want to fly solo when it comes to cultivating your strength, develop your home practice with easily accessible yoga and pilates instructors and videos.
If you are looking for something more intense, check out the highly popular PiYo workout program. Unlike some popularized programs that require you go to a gym for specialized equipment or partner-based work, you can cultivate this home practice on your own time.
Suggested resources for work-life harmony:
Reehut 1/2-Inch Extra Thick High-Density NBR Exercise Yoga Mat for Pilates, Fitness & Workout w/ Carrying Strap
Customer Reviews: 4.4 /5 stars (1300+ reviews)
Radha Beauty Aromatherapy Top 6 Essential Oils 100% Pure & Therapeutic grade – Basic Sampler Gift Set & Premium Kit – 6/10 Ml (Lavender, Tea Tree, Eucalyptus, Lemongrass, Sweet Orange)
Customer Reviews: 4.5 /5 stars (8000+ reviews)
URPOWER 2nd Version Essential Oil Diffuser, 100ml Aroma Essential Oil Cool Mist Humidifier with Adjustable Mist Mode
Customer Reviews: 4.6 /5 stars (13,000+ reviews)
Customer Reviews: 4.6 /5 stars (300+ reviews)
Chalene Johnson’s PiYo Base Kit – DVD Workout with Exercise Videos + Fitness Tools and Nutrition Guide
Customer Reviews: 4 /5 stars (680+ reviews)
What techniques do you use to reduce stress and create healthier ways to get through your workday? Tell us in comments below.
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About the Author
Gwendolyn is a lover of travel and culture, having visited over 13 countries and having lived most of her adult life in Europe and Asia – where she explored, learned, and fell in love.
In her professional career, she has worn the hat of director in International Education, professor, trainer, strategist and fundraiser for nonprofits. Most recently she started lifeinherent.com and co-founded Laifeu LLC.
She holds an MA in Public Relations and a BA in Media Communications.