Our lives are a constant balancing act between home, family, work, and any other obligations that might come up during the week. Add to that any anxiety you might have over the news headlines of the day or trauma you sustain from microaggressions cutting you down throughout the day, and it’s all too easy to bring your stress to the workplace with you, making it harder to focus on tasks you want to complete, to stay motivated about your career, and to handle responsibilities efficiently.
If you often find yourself thinking all you need is a little peace and quiet, the relief you’re looking for is closer than you think. The simplest antidote to stress is meditation in the workplace.
Meditating positively affects your body, health, and emotions in lots of other ways, too. Essentially, if you meditate for even just a few minutes each day, you’ll start reaping the benefits. You’ll feel better, get more done at work, and have a sunnier outlook on your life and relationships, which is sometimes the only thing you really have control over.
Mindful Meditation: Deep Breathing Exercise
One of the great things about meditation is how simple it is: It can be done almost anywhere, any time. With mindfulness meditation, your goal is to keep all of your attention on the current moment, rather than on the tasks, deadlines, and anxious thoughts that take up your energy and attention most of the time. One easy way to do this is by focusing on your breath.
To try it, sit tall in your office chair. Take a deep breath for a count of four. Rather than letting your breath get stuck in your upper chest, try to breathe into your belly for the most benefit. Hold the breath in for a count of four. Now exhale, slowly and evenly, for a count of six. As you repeat this exercise, you should slowly begin to feel calmer and more grounded in the current moment.
This is a great technique for reducing stress — use it before presentations to help with nerves, or in the middle of the workday if you need a moment to relax.
Turn Your Lunch Break Into App Time
And we’re not talking about logging into social media (which may or may not exacerbate what is ailing your spirit at work… the jury is still out on its effects).
Meditation apps, programs that allow you to listen to guided meditations through your phone, are an easily accessible resource when you’re able to take a small chunk of time for yourself. Assuming you work at a place where you’re entitled to a midday break, all you have to do is throw your headphones on, close your eyes, and you’re on your way to some serious inner progress.
Some employers in the corporate world actually offer free subscriptions to their employees for meditation apps like Calm, which is one of the bigger programs out there that offers guided meditations as well as breathing exercises and background music geared toward everything from getting focused to banishing stress.
But regardless of whether you work somewhere with a mindful perk like this, there are other apps out there that you can access free of charge. An app like Liberate Meditation even takes your identity into consideration, offering culturally relevant resources designed by and for people who have lived the experiences and identify as BIPOC.
Clearing your mind of stress, learning how to dial into the task at hand, or simply having the clarity to know when to say “no” to responsibilities that you don’t have time or energy for can help you monotask and be productive and efficient at work.
Walk It Off
Can’t sit still? Try this walking mindfulness meditation instead. While simply taking a run-of-the-mill stroll through nature each day can help lift your mood and benefit your health in the long run, a walking meditation is less about the scenery and more about the deliberate focus you are giving the act of walking, something you can do year round as long as you have enough space to walk about 10-15 paces without being disturbed — could be a quiet hallway, the corner of a courtyard, or even the nether reaches of a parking lot (where you know you’re not in a channel of traffic). Try this 10-minute practice from UC-Berkeley’s Greater Good in Action, which has you tune into the mechanical and familiar process of walking as a way of tuning out the noise that is holding you back from being your best self at the office.Ultimately though, the benefits of meditation at work will spill over to the rest of your day, leaving you more open, positive, and energized beyond the workplace, allowing you to be more present for yourself, your loved ones, and your community in your downtime.