Take a Moment
Reducing stress through mindfulness
Feeling overwhelmed has a serious effect on wellbeing. It’s normal to feel the pressure at times, but a deeper sense of anxiety is a problem.
Practices such as yoga or meditation are often suggested as effective stress-reducing techniques. However, leading a busy lifestyle, along with an unpredictable work schedule, means it can be hard to fit these into a daily routine.
The psychological practice of ‘mindfulness’ helps to keep the mind present, compartmentalising your thoughts and emotions. The practice works by bringing your attention to the senses, to pause the whirlwind of stimuli and focus on the current moment.
If the nature of your work revolves around assisting others, it can be easy to forget to care for yourself. Recognising moments of compassion throughout your day is a small but effective way to becoming more mindful. Turning your attention to the ‘good deeds’ of each day can be key to eliminating negative or anxious feelings.
If you have time to yourself at work, take a moment to consider the positive effects of your actions. Time spent outside the workplace is another opportunity to think mindfully and partake in activities you enjoy. Spending time with family and friends, to appreciate the small things, can help dilute the stress you may be feeling at work.
Breathe and count
Breathing is one of the simplest ways to practice mindfulness, and it doesn’t need to be a full-blown meditation session – you can practise anywhere. For a simple start, concentrate on each breath, using your lower abdomen to inhale deeply, and continue this for a long as you desire. Alternatively, counting your breaths can be an ideal calming technique in moments of stress.
Count ‘one’ on your first exhale and ‘two’ on the inhale, do this until you get to five, and repeat if you wish. Counting your breaths not only calms the body, but the act of counting also calms the mind. You can practise this exercise at your desk, in the lift, or anywhere you have a moment to yourself.
Mindful eating at work
To eat mindfully, one must bring full attention to the meal. Instead of rushing your lunch, or eating while distracted, try to concentrate on the taste, smell, and texture of your food. Focusing on your senses while eating allows for smooth digestion and a satisfied stomach.
Eating should be a time of calm, so taking a walk outside or to a quiet area is an ideal scenario for a lunch break. It can be tempting to watch TV or browse Facebook while eating, but eating while distracted is a sure way to feel more stress and pressure. Eliminating your distractions is beneficial at any meal time, so take a good look- – and taste of – what’s on your plate next time you sit down to eat.
It has become the norm to spread ourselves thin across a multitude of tasks, and having fingers in different pies isn’t the best for our productivity or stress levels. Allowing yourself to focus on one task at a time can help the mind stay present, and avoid overwhelming feelings.
Distraction is often disguised as multitasking, so check in with yourself each hour to ensure you’re using your time mindfully. For some, it helps to write a task list that can be worked through chronologically, rather than all at once.
Cheryl is an accredited mindfulness consultant and life coach with a Bachelor’s degree in biochemistry, physiology and psychology.
In her 18 years working at large multinational corporations, Cheryl witnessed many colleagues and friends suffer from the impact of a fast-paced, stressful lifestyle. This inspired her to change her life direction, and complete further training in mindfulness and life coaching.
In 2013, Cheryl founded Ovio Mindfulness Solutions. Through Ovio, Cheryl’s mission is to teach people how to cut through the noise in their heads, to live with purpose and balance; allowing them to tap into their true potential. Cheryl has run mindfulness programs at medical and healthcare facilities, worked with businesses in the public and private sector, and coached a range of people from kids to corporate executives.
Cheryl lives in Karori with her husband, three teenage kids, a cat, and a dog. She has an amazing zest for living life to the full, spending time in nature, and being with family and friends.