“Zen” and “work” aren’t typically found within the same sentence. In fact, most people find them to be polar opposites. But if you’re like 70% of the population who find their job stressful, it’s so important to know how to get more zen at work to save your sanity.
Constantly burning the wick at both ends can lead to burnout, which becomes debilitating if left unaddressed. The good news is that you don’t need to go to yoga every day or meditate for hours on end to fix the issue. There are many small actions you can take that have a big impact on your work day…and overall quality of life. When the nonstop stress and pressure’s coming on strong, who couldn’t use some doses of goodness to keep up with it all?
Check out the tips below for adding more zen to your workday. Feel free to share with a friend or coworker who could use some zen to get through their day!
Goodness Tip #1: USE YOUR COMMUTE WISELY
If you’re like millions of Americans, you spend a good chunk of your day getting to and from work. According to USA Today, people spend an average of 50 minutes commuting per day. If you’re in areas like Los Angeles, New York or San Francisco, you’re looking at 2 or more hours on a train, ferry or car ride just to arrive at the job that stresses you out…each day!
Commute time is often spent browsing through Facebook, reading emails, or scouring the news. Ask yourself if this is helping set your day up for success. If not, there are a few things you can do to bring more zen to your day.
- Keep a gratitude journal. By writing down 5 or more things that you’re grateful for each day, you change your mindset to a positive outlook. Reflecting on the joys in your life helps you maintain a balanced perspective to keep stress at bay. When you’re having a particularly tough day, re-read what you wrote previously in your journal for an extra boost of goodness.
- Subscribe to an inspirational podcast or audiobook service like Audible. Instead of exposing yourself to regurgitations of depressing news or comparing your life to all those entrepreneurs selling their secret formula for making 6 figures in one month on social media (Facebook Envy is a real thing, people!), why not listen to something that’s positive and uplifting for YOU? Need some ideas on what to listen to? Check out this great list from Podcast Pals.
Goodness Tip #2: BREATHE
Our bodies were built to breathe. We do it around 20,000 times per day. But, surprisingly, most of us aren’t getting the full benefits of each breath…especially when we’re stressed or anxious.
If you experience tension in your neck and shoulders, you may be unconsciously holding your breath throughout the day or shallowly taking in oxygen. Tension in the body is a classic symptom of not breathing properly. It can also cause dry mouth and tiredness (as if you needed more of that!).
If you’re more of a nose breather, don’t be fooled, there can be issues here too. Not breathing well through your nose can alter your heart and blood pressure, and even cause your body to release more stress hormones when you’re upset.
Knowing you’re super busy and barely have time to take a lunch break, the last thing you need is to start stressing out about how you’re breathing. So, I have a solution for you. It’s a little something called “Smell the Roses, Blow Out the Candles,” a simply powerful technique that my sister-in-law’s sis, Dr. Jessica Domingos, uses frequently with her physical therapy clients.
Here’s how you do it:
Step 1: Imagine there’s a beautiful, fragrant flower in front of you. Perhaps a bouquet of your favorite flowers. Take a deep breath through your nose and imagine you are smelling the sweetest smell. Take your time inhaling a deep, full breath. You should feel not only your chest but also your diaphragm expand when you do this.
Step 2: Imagine there’s a huge birthday cake in front of you with tons of lit up candles. Exhale through your mouth and “blow” out those candles as best you can. Make sure you don’t rush this. Take your time doing a nice, big exhale.
Repeat this 4 more times. How do you feel? The answer should be “better!”
Throughout your workday, take a few seconds to practice this breathing exercise. Strive to do it at least 5 times a day. All of that extra oxygen will help you feel so much more relaxed, focused, and clear-minded. Ahhh…zen.
Goodness Tip #3: MAKE YOUR WORK SPACE A SANCTUARY
Let’s be honest…most offices and cubicles have a pretty sterile feel about them. Although your company might not be open to you painting your walls a nice shade of calming blue, they probably wouldn’t mind you doing a little bit of personalization. A little goes a long way here, so you don’t need to go crazy.
Here are some ways I love to bring more zen to my workspace:
Clear the clutter.
What you see influences how you feel. If you want to feel calm and focused, you’re going to want a clean, organized desk.
If you have piles of paperwork everywhere, you’re likely to feel pretty crappy at work…that’s because there’s a link between clutter and anxiety. If you’re staring at a messy desk all day, your mind is going to interpret that mess as more stress…and more worry.
Get a good filing system in place, only keep the paperwork due that day on your desk, and keep your workspace as clean as you keep your teeth.
Give your eyes a beauty break.
Your eyes, just like the rest of your body, need a break from staring at a computer screen for hours. Every 30 minutes, let them gaze on something soothing…and beautiful. A favorite piece of art, a photo of a loved one, or an inspirational quote is great, but I’ve found a live plant to be the best in helping bring more zen to work.
Not only does a live plant add more oxygen to the air, it reminds you to step outside of your focused zone when you nurture it and are reminded that there’s another life at the desk with you. If you’re like me and don’t have much of a green thumb, there are a lot of indoor plants that are quite easy to take care of. These include Aloe (great to have around if you cut yourself, too!), Peace Lily, Snake Plant, Asparagus Fern, or a Christmas Cactus.
If you work in an office building, you’re probably used to the smell of stale coffee and corporate cleaning products, neither of which ignite a sense of zen. Bring in some essential oils to help.
A simple aromatherapy diffuser can fill your space with amazingly delicate scents of essential oils that calm the mind, ease your nerves, and relax your body. Not a bad thing to help offset all the stress you’re dealing with!
My favorite essential oils for mental clarity and calm are Clary Sage, Rosemary, and Basil. You can get good quality oils at any health food store. For therapeutic-grade, pure oils, check out Young Living brands. Play around with them and see which scents work best for you!
Goodness Tip #4: MORE TEA PLEASE!
Are you a caffeine junkie? Trust me when I say that I can relate! I used to drink coffee all the time, but now I’ve replaced my lattes with calming herbal teas.
Why? Because all that caffeine left me jittery and anxious! As much as we love it, caffeine is a stimulant that can have major effects on our central nervous system. According to the Mayo Clinic, “consuming more than 500-600 mg of caffeine a day may lead to insomnia, nervousness, restlessness, irritability, and upset stomach, fast
As much as we love it, caffeine is a stimulant that can have major effects on our central nervous system. According to the Mayo Clinic, “consuming more than 500-600 mg of caffeine a day may lead to insomnia, nervousness, restlessness, irritability, and upset stomach, fast heartbeat, and even muscle tremors. Not so “zen”…
If you’re finding that all those Starbucks runs are taking their toll on your physical and mental well-being, I suggest you take a look at tea. Just like aromatherapy, certain herbal teas have been found to ease stress, depression, and anxiety.These include Chamomile, Peppermint Tea, and others.
Now because I’m big on indulging my senses, I choose teas that not only taste but also smell amazing. My favorite right now is Yerba Buena Tea Company’s Lavender Grey Tea. It’s a decadent mix of organic black tea with a touch of Bergamot Oil and fragrant Organic Lavender Flowers. Ahh, a zen dream!
So I’m not the biggest fan of water (I know, weird), but I understand how important it is to drink lots of it throughout the day to flush out stagnant energy and toxins. When you’re dehydrated, you’re at risk for decreased energy, increased hunger, tiredness, and aging (no thanks!).
I shoot for 60-80 ozs/day to feel clear, focused, and energized. To satisfy my taste buds and create a feeling of refreshing calm, I put in a few drops of Fresh Ginger Tincture to my glass of water.
When we often spend more time at work than we do with our loved ones, we should do our best to make that time as fulfilling and restorative as possible. I hope these tips are helpful in bringing more zen to your work day and adding extra goodness to your life.
Got some good zen tips that help you get through your stressful work days? Share your tips with us at the Bridging Consciousness Instagram and Facebook pages using the hashtag #workzentips.
We’d love to hear from you!