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Stressed at Work? Just Breathe...

Stressed at Work? Just Breathe... . / Credit: Stressed Businessman Image via Shutterstock

Susan Steinbrecher, CEO and president of Steinbrecher And Associates, contributed this article to BusinessNewsDaily's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.

Do you often feel there just aren't enough hours in the day? If you're like me, your schedule is on overload and no matter how fast you move you just can't seem to get ahead. We have become a culture of multi-taskers. Information is coming at us in all directions — leaving us overwhelmed and stressed.

Medical researchers estimate that stress is now the underlying cause of over 80 percent of all illnesses. A whopping $300 billion or $7,500 per employeeis spent annually on stress-related compensation claims, reduced productivity, absenteeism, health insurance costs , direct medical expenses and employee turnover. (APA Poll, 2008 Stress in America)

The solution? I recommend more mindfulness and meditation practices in the workplace. In my book KENSHO: A Modern Awakening, I highlight companies that are successfully educating their employees and leaders to live more consciously and mindfully — and as a result are building better businesses and customer relationships.

[Who Has the Most Stress at Work?]

For example, Google offers courses in meditation and yoga and has onsite facilities for staff to take meditation breaks. Other companies such as Aetna, Merck and General Mills all are exploring how meditation can help their leaders and employees thrive in today's ever-changing business environment. And the myriad benefits are extensively publicized: sustained attention span, enhanced multi-tasking abilities, strengthened immune system and an improved ability to cope with stress — contributing to an end-result that any employer would cheer: meditation practice makes us more productive.

Learning how to meditate does not require a pilgrimage to a Tibetan monastery or an extensive stay at a remote ashram. Every day we have the opportunity to connect with our inner calm — or place of stillness, even on the job. All it requires is planning, commitment and consistent practice.

Meditate at Work

Get into the habit of putting 5-10 minutes aside each day to meditate at your place of work. Use an empty conference room, a quiet stairwell or do a walking meditation outside during a break or at lunch. Make that appointment with yourself and don't miss it. Before you know it, you'll start to see the payoffs in terms of greater mental clarity, reduced stress and an enhanced feeling of centeredness that can carry you through a hectic workday.

Elevator Breathing

If you find yourself rushing to an appointment, use your time in transit to calm and center yourself. Do some deep breathing during the elevator ride up to calm your mind, center your thoughts and focus on what you need to accomplish in that meeting. It's easy to do and it works — anytime and anywhere.

Be Mindful

After you've finished your daily 10 minutes of meditation at the office, stay mindful. Smell the coffee brewing. Note the color of the light filling the building, the sounds of birds singing outside the windows or the laughter down the hall. Tapping into your surroundings enhances your mindfulness quotient. It also amplifies your appreciation for everything around you and within you.

Next time you catch yourself feeling overwhelmed — stop. Close your eyes. Reconnect. Touch base with your inner calm. Try it now for the next 30 seconds … just breathe.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher.

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