It’s no secret – work is stressful. We’re consumed by our jobs, office politics, boredom, hectic commutes, deadlines and time management. When we’re deep “in it” it seems like the world might crumble if we’re not thinking about our job. We often find it difficult to schedule a doctor’s appointment when we’re working full-time. The idea of adding yoga or meditation into an already jammed pack schedule can seem daunting. With that said, there are some quick and easy ways to incorporate yoga and meditation practices into your daily routine to mitigate stress and allow you to be more productive. The key is balance. When we let our jobs control our every waking moments, we lose ourselves and can feel like we’re drowning. We need to make our jobs a part of our day, not our whole day. By incorporating the below tips, you can help structure your day to include both “you” and the job.
The first 30 minutes after you wake up is pivotal in shaping the the rest of your day. Don’t check your phone. Checking texts, emails or Facebook puts you in a reactionary state of mind. You have enough go, go, go the rest of the day, let your mind rest for that extra 30 minutes and fill it with the right “fuel.” Meditate. You don’t have to be a guru to get in a useful meditation session. Sit up straight in bed or on the floor, and take 10 slow inhales and 10 slow exhales each for a count of 6. In through the nose, out through the mouth. After breathing, I find the best way to face the day is to begin by visualizing at least three things I’m grateful for. Waking up healthy and alive is a great place to start. I often think about how fortunate I am just to have a warm place to sleep and a roof over my head. Keep it as simple as you want. Power your productivity for the day by mentally listing three things you’d like to achieve. Three objectives are manageable, any more and you are actually deterring yourself from having a successful day.
Once you’ve settled into your morning at work on auto-pilot, take a break! If you can, get outside for five minutes. If outside isn’t an option, find a quiet conference room. If that’s even a no-go, sit up straight at your desk. Go through another round of 10 deep inhale/exhale breaths for a six count each. After you’ve calmed your mind, it’s time to wake up the body, and most importantly, the spine with “Half Moon” pose. Take a deep inhale breath and reach your arms up over the head sideways, interlock your fingers and release your index fingers and cross the thumbs. You want your arms back with your ears, elbows glued to the head, feet together nicely, suck your stomach in and reach up out of the waist and bend your body over the the right. Try to push the hips to the left beyond your left foot, squaring off the hips and shoulders. Hold for a count of 10. Repeat for the left side. When complete, put your hands on the small of your back, drop your head back and let it hang heavy, push your hips and stomach forward while arching the upper body back. This relieves tension on the spine from hunching over the computer.
Lunchtime! Congrats, you’ve made it (hopefully) halfway through your day. Take this time to decompress and step away from your desk. The physical and mental break is necessary in helping you to power through the rest of your day. If you’re in a position where you are expected to eat at your desk, make sure you walk away for a moment, and get outside in the fresh air. Go through your 10 long inhale/exhales again, eyes closed. Review in your mind the three objectives you set for yourself in the morning. Think about what you need to do in the afternoon to accomplish them. To generate some energy before getting back to the desk, try “Half Tortoise pose.” In a sit down position, keep the knees together, bend the knees and sit down on top of the heels. Arms come up overhead sideways, cross the thumbs only, palms together, elbows by the ears, arms tight against the head. With a straight back, you hinge forward at the waist and come down to the floor. Forehead touches the floor arms over the head, pinkie fingers only touching the floor. Use the edges of the pinkie fingers to push into the floor and allow your buttocks to push back and down, returning to your heels. Take a round of 6 breaths here, it gives you an amazing amount of energy.
You’ve made it through the work day and you’re back home. Put your phone away, step outside or into a quiet room and guide yourself through another count of 10 breaths. The best way to get your mind off of the work day and to forget the stress from earlier on is to trick yourself into focusing on something that requires complete concentration. Try “Balancing Stick” pose: with your feet together, inhale your arms up and over your head, your palms together, interlock all ten fingers, release your index fingers, thumbs crossed. Suck the stomach in, reach up out of the waist, now step your right leg forward, a big step, and come down on your right leg, left leg reaches up behind you and your upper body comes down with a flat back, so from the side your body looks like a “T”. Keep your arms tight and locked, elbows with the ears, look four feet in front of you and stretch your arms forward and stretch your left leg back and up. Try to even out your hips so your lower back is like a table top. Now come back up and repeat with a giant step forward with your left leg. Feel free to do another set on each side. This posture requires immense concentration and can break through that tense, icky feeling you hold in your chest and upper back after a stressful day.
It’s almost bedtime, you’ve finished dinner and are winding down. Instead of letting your mind race to tomorrow, stop and breathe, evaluate the present. Find a quiet space, preferably your bedroom floor, and guide yourself through 10 rounds of breaths. Now, go through your three objectives from the morning. Did you complete them? If you haven’t, avoid judgement and instead evaluate your day. What got in the way? What worked for you? What do you wish to improve? Evaluate, acknowledge, and most importantly, picture your day in your mind’s eye and imagine it floating away with the clouds. The objectives of the day don’t define you nor do their outcome. You are much more than your job, your to-do list, your responsibilities. Let it go. Breathe. Relax. Sweet dreams.