In 2009, The Ohio State University published a study highlighting the positive effects of workplace meditation and yoga. The most striking benefits of workplace meditation and yoga were reduced stress, higher productivity, and happier employees – a triple combination any employer would be ecstatic to see in their organization.
While some large corporations have large enough budgets to organize workplace yoga sessions for their employees, a lot of companies are cash-strapped in this economic downturn and may not have the resources to invest in hiring a private yoga instructor for their employees.
So what does a small or medium business do then?
Sure, everyone wants happier people in their company, and it’s a well known fact that stress-free people can get more done in an eight hour work day compared to their over-stressed colleagues.
Listed below are five very simple meditation and yoga techniques that can be accommodated in your lunch break, restroom break, and coffee break. The best part? None of them need a yoga instructor to guide you!
The Problem: Morning Anxiety Jitters
Is work on your mind even before you reach office?
Are you making mental notes of all the tasks that await you?
Is all this brain activity stressing you out in the morning?
A lot of us do this. Our brains go into hyperactive work mode the moment we wake up, and we keep thinking of work even while sleeping. It’s a competitive world where you must prove your mettle to rise up the corporate ladder, but putting your health at risk to achieve your goals is not a wise idea.
When you wake up, sit down on a chair or even on your bed. Close your eyes and take a deep breath. If you’re an early morning person, do this in your neighborhood park whilst getting some fresh air.
On your way to work, listen to some relaxing music. Live365 has a listing of free-to-listen radio stations for meditation music.
The Problem: Getting Motivated
You’ve reached office, chatted with a few colleagues, and grabbed your cup of morning coffee. Now, you need to prepare for a day of hard work ahead. Many of us get stressed even before we start work! If a sense of dread engulfs you before you start your day at work, you need to take steps to reduce this stress.
Before reviewing your task list or checking your mailbox, relax your body and loosen those stiff muscles. Flex your shoulders while deep breathing, and close your eyes. Think of something that relaxes you, like a vacation spot you really like, or smells that make you feel calm.
Surround yourself with calming scents. At your workplace, you can do this by placing cinnamon sticks, cloves, or a few vanilla beans in a bowl at your desk.
The Problem: Squeezing Meditation into Your Lunch Hour
The lunch break is probably the longest break you take in your average work day. Socializing and networking is important at work, so it’s a good idea to reserve 20 minutes from a 30 minute lunch break for networking activities and also to squeeze in a good, healthy meal.
In the ten minutes that you have left, find a spot away from the loud cackle of the cafeteria, away from your colleagues.
Take slow, deep breaths for a couple of minutes. Place the palms of your hands on your eyes and press lightly. Or, take the first three fingers of your hands and place them lightly on your eyes, deep breathing all the time.
Flex your hands by opening and closing your fists. Stretch your fingers and arms. Rotate your neck in 360 degree movements.
If you feel conscious about doing these exercises in public, use your office restroom!
The Problem: Post-Lunch Drowsiness
Admittedly, a heavy lunch can make you feel very sleepy and kill your productive output. Though not an exercise, the easiest solution is to avoid eating a heavy lunch. Choose healthier options like a multigrain sandwich or a big bowl of salad, as opposed to something oily and greasy.
If a heavy lunch is unavoidable, instead of opting for a jolt of caffeine to wake you up, eat an apple. While an apple does not have caffeine, the natural sugars in an apple provide your body enough energy to help you stay alert.
What if all this fails? Wash your face, shrug your shoulders, flex your spine, and you’re good to go.
The Problem: Unwinding from a Long Workday
At the end of a tough day at work, the last thing that should be on your mind is more work. To ease off the stress, do something you enjoy doing, like a hobby you have or even think of cooking a meal for the family. Go on a long walk or just listen to some relaxing music.
To release the pent up tension in your muscles, light some aromatherapy candles around you, and sit in the sukasana on an exercise mat. Choose a phrase that holds a powerful meaning for you – like “All is well”, for example. Keep repeating the phrase while deep breathing.
You can even do this sitting in your office chair, without the need to do a sukasana (well, it’s not possible to sit like that work, right?). When you’re feeling stressed, just close your eyes and keeping repeating the phrase you’ve chosen for yourself.
How you include these exercises depends on your willingness to reduce stress in your life. Remember, by imbibing these in your daily schedule, you’ll also be increasing your productive output at work. Less stress means you’ll be able to get more work done!