As many come back from a Spring Break vacation, the lovely spring days will seem far away when the stresses of every day work life pile up on us again. We have all been there; when there just aren’t enough hours in a day. When office politics threaten our sense of security and ability to maintain our self worth. When internal and external competition can erode our sense of accomplishment and contribution. I get it.
When I give keynotes around the country, one of the first questions folks ask me is ‘how can we find inner alignment at work’ and how can we sustain that ‘peace that passes all understanding’ that you talk and write about? Thus, as we come back from spring travel and enter into the 2nd quarter, I want to offer a few basic – yet powerful – ways to alleviate stress and foster alignment within ourselves. This is certainly not an all inclusive list; yet, these tips are uber easy (and cost nothing!) and they deliver a powerful punch of peace serum!
Tip 1: Get out in nature. This can be as simple as a walk in the morning with your dog or a bike ride after work. When we work in our offices, there is a tendency to sit in front of the computer screen for hours at a time; and this lack of motion, fresh air, and sunlight can do a number on our psyche. Just get up and MOVE – preferably outdoors. Breathe in deeply. Listen to the crickets, the birds, and the gentle sounds of the wind rustling in the trees. Yes – this is so very basic; yet, I know so many who NEVER go outside. They may workout, yet this is done indoors with lots of other sweaty bodies. Rethink this; and spend just a half hour outside every day – you will be amazed at how this will center your soul and align your mind, body, and spirit.
Tip 2: Go out to lunch (or brunch) at least once of week. Again, we can get in the habit of eating at our desks or the office cafeteria or, heaven forbid, going through a drive through. If we get up from our desk – and leave our office to have lunch somewhere nice and pleasant; it is interesting to watch how our attitudes shift, and how we have a refreshed perspective when we return to the office. AND if we ‘take a walk’ for dessert – even better!
Tip 3: Put down the phone and turn off the car radio. We have become addicted to our smart phones – we all know this. We find it acceptable to let folks check their phones while having dinner with us, on a date, at the movies, or even at someone’s home. Frankly, It is rude. Furthermore, it keeps us ‘on’ and being ‘nagged at’ all day and all night long. I understand the need to be accessible, yet, we need to set boundaries AND respect the present moment when we are with others. When we are driving, try turning off the car radio. Just have peace and quiet in the sanctuary of your car. I call this ‘wonderful dash board time’. This becomes my respite and this quiet period gives me time to focus on my breath, think about what I’m going to do during the day or when I arrive at my destination. Seems simple – yet it throws a powerful punch.
Tip 4: Play – play often. My friends know I love games. It is so much fun to have a night where we focus on NOTHING of true importance other than laughing and letting go. This can be playing cards, swimming in the lake, charades, throwing the ball to Lulu (my precious 4 legged companion) in the backyard…the list is endless. The point is that the activity has no point! This is liberating and clears the cobwebs from my work, the stresses from my book tour, publicity campaigns, etc. We all need time to PLAY – and even though we are adults, that need does not diminish, in fact I think it increases!
Tip 5: Minimize the Multi-Tasking. Many brain studies have proven that multi-tasking is not good for our brains! Yet, as our world moves faster and faster, we have gotten very good at doing 10-12 things at one time. We talk on the phone, draft a memo, and respond to emails – all while eating lunch at our desks! This is exhausting, inefficient, and extremely stressful. I ‘get’ the speed of our work these days, yet, I also know that if we give our full attention to just one thing – we actually will improve our output AND reduce our stress levels.
Tip 6: Stand up at least once an hour. I love the idea of the ‘stand up’ desk, yet not everyone will want to embrace that approach. However, we all can get up at least once an hour – and touch our toes, walk around the office, or flex your legs and ankles. This gets our blood circulating again and that will help to release tension…..and thus, minimize stress.
Tip 7: Bring the outdoors to your office. It is a basic Feng Shui principle that large green leafy plants are a vital energy component for an office. Not only do these plants help to keep our air clean, it is very grounding to be able to look at something green in your office. My office is actually a ‘tree house’ with wonderful views of trees, birds, and squirrels; yet, I know not everyone can have a green view out your window. So just bring it indoors. Have a least one – preferably two or three – green plants near you. This can be a refreshing oasis in an office of fluorescent lights, carpet, concrete, and institutional furniture.
Net: we may not be able to control the pressure points of our competitive, fast paced work world; however, we can absolutely control our responses to it. Stress kills. Period. We must take heed to alleviate stress in our daily lives. These basic tips are quite simple, yet I have found they help my clients (and myself) manage the stress and to sustain a feeling of alignment within themselves.