None of us are immune to the daily stresses of work life, but thankfully there are quite a few practical life hacks that can help you navigate each weekday like a pro. These tips are science-based and proven to work.
1. Start the Day Off Right
Early risers are typically more optimistic, productive people. Rising with the sun may not be realistic for everyone, but getting up with plenty of time to spare helps start your day off on the right foot. A stress-free, unhurried morning is the basis for a stress-free, unhurried work day!
So, “the early bird gets the worm” adage that likely annoyed you as a sleepy teenager may very well become your daily mantra as an adult. In addition to increased happiness, researchers discovered that morning people are more cooperative, ambitious, and amiable – all characteristics that lend to a smooth, calm work day.
2. Just Breathe
When we're stressed, we tend to breathe erratically in short, shallow breaths or, even worse, subconsciously hold our breath. Taking a break to just breathe is a necessary stress-relieving practice that's easy and enjoyable.
By simply pausing to check in with your breath, you give yourself a much-needed moment of mindfulness amid the chaos. And, by deepening the inhalations and slowing the exhalations, the body is given a “biological brake” that stops anxiety in its tracks. Studies have also shown that the fight-or-flight response is pacified once we observe and retain control over the breath.
3. Move Your Body
When stress threatens to send you over the edge, yoga and exercise can take your work day from tense to tranquil. Because yoga incorporates breath control and mindfulness, its very foundation supports stress relief. In essence, any mind-body practice (yoga, tai chi, aerobics) can help you bring more zen to the workplace.
Research has found that physical activity floods the body with endorphins, “happy” neurotransmitters that improve mood, ease anxiety and depression, and raise self-confidence. If working out or dipping into a yoga pose isn't practical in your work environment, aim to take a daily afternoon walk to decrease cortisol levels (and spark your creativity to boot).
4. Take a Power Nap
Sleep works as a nifty reset button, bringing the body, breath, and mind back to a level playing field. Although a good night’s sleep is ideal, power naps are particularly efficient as well. In fact, a 2003 study revealed that one 60–90 minute nap provides the same cognitive benefits and performance results as an 8-hour night of rest.
While the research in favor of naps is fascinating, it doesn't take a scientist to tell us that a post-lunch nap can work wonders for productivity, better concentration, and, of course, stress relief.
You knew this one was coming, right? After all, it's no surprise that a few minutes of meditation sprinkled throughout the work day can ease stress and anxiety. However, a study has revealed that regular meditation also improves the three pillars of attention – stability, efficiency, and control.
Mindfulness through meditation also allows us to slow the breath and heart rate, as well as manage cluttered thoughts – all pieces of the puzzle that contribute to stress. In addition, meditation can instill compassion, relatability, and gratitude, leading to stronger work relationships and more fulfilling collaborations.
Once you start incorporating these simple tips into your day, you’ll notice a significant increase in the quality of your work life. Even better, your newfound state of zen is likely to inspire bosses and colleagues to find their bliss as well, contributing to a more relaxed, happy, and inspiring work environment overall.
Image Credit: Alissa Kepas