Workplace stress? Keep your days calm with these easy techniques

Don’t be spooked by meditation: it’s easier than it looks

You don’t need to retreat to the Himalayas to regain your cool.

In the past, stress at work was swept under the carpet. Increasingly, however, more businesses and employees are taking active steps to make their offices calmer places to work. Why? Not only are calmer offices happier and more creative, but a better work environment has been proven to boost careers and the bottom line too.
Mindfulness, which is becoming more and more popular among employees and within businesses, is a practice that wakes us up and enables us to become present in our everyday lives. It takes us out of autopilot and makes us better at responding, rather than reacting. Over 500 science research papers were published last year alone detailing the many benefits of mindfulness, from better sleep to improved memory and a stronger immune system.
So it’s no surprise that the likes of Transport For London, General Mills, BlackRock, LinkedIn, and Google are all teaching mindfulness skills in the workplace to improve the performance, well-being and emotional intelligence of their staff, and they are now reaping huge benefits from it.
But being more mindful doesn’t have to mean completely switching off or retreating to the Himalayas. There are a number of simple ways to calm the mind each day. Today, on the UK’s first ever #CalmDay, why not give some a go?

GUIDED MEDITATION

There is a lot of misunderstanding about meditation, but it’s a skill that can be learned by anyone and practised anywhere. There are many apps that provide guided meditations to teach the basics. The Calm app offers a free seven days of the Calm programme and it takes only ten minutes a day (calm.com).

BREATHING EXERCISES

When we feel anxious, we tend to take quick shallow breaths, which deepen our anxiety. To counter this, slow your breathing. Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose to the count of four. Hold your breath for one to two seconds, then exhale slowly to the count of four. Repeat several times and let the stress drift away.

DIGITAL DETOX

The key to calm is striking the right balance between rest and productivity. It sounds simple, but why not set a few house rules about the use of technology so you can switch off? Exposure to the blue light emitted by some electronic screens inhibits the production of melatonin and makes falling asleep harder. It’s best to stop using electronic devices at least an hour before bed.

RECLAIM YOUR COMMUTE

On average, we spend 54 minutes commuting each day. But rather than using the time to fret over the day ahead, reclaim your journey as an opportunity to introduce more calm into your life by using some of the above techniques. You could also try a different route into work. The unfamiliarity can re-engage your brain, shaking you out of autopilot. It may even help you discover a great pub or park you didn’t know existed.
It’s no coincidence that mindfulness and well-being at work have moved into the mainstream. The beauty is that a few simple, regular changes to your daily routine can have a positive, powerful, and calming effect on our working lives.
Michael Acton Smith, co-founder of Calm, is today celebrating the UK’s first ever #CalmDay with the release of his new book “Calm” (published by Penguin, £9.99).

Soporific glory

Free
Find it difficult to sleep after a long day in the office? Sleep Better enables you to monitor your sleep patterns, dreams and improve your bedtime habits. It’ll teach you helpful daytime activities to make you a more efficient sleeper, and its smart alarm will mean you wake up at the ideal time. You can enter daytime habits – including caffeine and alcohol consumption – and Sleep Better will give you suggestions on what alterations you could make to improve your ability to get a good night’s sleep.

Related articles