Opinion: How to reduce workplace stress in 15 minutes

Opinion: How to reduce workplace stress in 15 minutes

We’re all familiar with the concept of mindfulness, but how does it work and how can you find time to do it during a busy working day?

We live in age where people have more on their plates than ever before. This isn’t without consequence.

Workplace stress is a significant problem. A Vic Health study reported job strain-attributable depression and stress costs the Australian economy $730m a year, mostly worn by employers.

I’m a firm believer that keeping your mind healthy is the key to improving creativity and productivity in the workplace and research backs this up.

Practicing meditation actually changes the way the brain processes stress, decreasing the effects of mild depression and anxiety and increasing the ability to think clearly and creatively,

When you’re hit with a full list of to do items, you’re probably not the only one who feels more erratic than accomplished. And if it starts getting to the point that every day is like that, then adding a little mindfulness to your schedule might be essential for your productivity.

Here are five tips to get you started:

1. Download a series of wellness apps

It’s the modern from of mediation and there’s no shortage of mindfulness and meditation apps available. Here are some of my top recommendations:

  • The Resilience Project – practicing resilience by rating your mood of the day
  • Headspace – learn the basics of meditation and find mindfulness in just 10 minutes
  • Smiling Mind – an easy to use app that starts with ten-minute meditation sessions
  • Buddhify – on-the-go meditation, which you can do wherever you are and with whatever you’re doing

2. Check in with your breath for a midday break

Concentrating on your breath is a simple habit yet the benefits can be surprising. Breathing correctly means that we’re supplying our bodies with the right amount of oxygen and replenishing the brain and other vital organs with essential nutrients. Bill Rielly, marketing director of Apple Pay, said in Harvard Business Review article that by taking three deep breaths each time he sat down at his desk helped him relax during the course of a busy day. Over time, those three breaths turned into several minutes a day, then into a 30-minute meditation session.

3. Take to the pavements in-between meetings

Or even, trade one traditional seating meeting for a walking catch up. A study in the US found that when people are involved in a walking meeting once a week their work-related physical activity increased by an average of 10 minutes per week – to 500 minutes over the year.

4. Email mindfully

Have you ever sent a curt email and immediately wanted to take it back? It’s easy to churn out emails at lightning speed but it’s just as important to be conscious of what your sending. Type out your email and then step away from your keyboard. Take three deep breaths and focus only on your breath. Return to the email and re-read it. Do you still feel that way?

5. Wind-down on your way home

Read a book or listen to your music to set aside some time to yourself. Maybe try cycling part of your journey or getting off a stop early to take a shortcut through a park or quiet streets. These little actions can really help you to switch off and recharge ahead of the next working day.

Associate Professor Nikki Rickard is the Program Director for Psychology and Social Science at Swinburne Online.

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