Combat Stress with Mindfulness
Did you know that stress can have a direct effect on your health? Stress can affect your emotional health by causing anxiety, irritability, anger, sadness, or depression. However, it can also cause physical health problems as well, such as headache, fatigue, upset stomach, muscle and chest pain, and sleep issues to name a few.
It doesn’t matter who you are, stress is most likely a part of your life and everyone’s life. The secret is to control the stress, so it doesn’t control you. If you reduce stress, you will relieve a number of health issues.
Warning Signs of Stress
Here are some of the warning signs of stress: Headache, upset stomach, chest pain, rapid heartbeat, fatigue, irritability, and anxiety. These warning signs shouldn’t be taken lightly, as your body and mind need to be taken care of.
Did you know that job-related stress can cost billions of dollars every year? It’s true. Job-related stress can cause mental breakdowns resulting in high-cost medical expenses, workers’ compensation claims, family medical leave, and absenteeism.
Many people suffer from workplace stress and feel they need help to learn how to manage this stress. Do you find yourself working through lunch? Do you take breaks? How often do you take your work home, or if working from home, do you work all day and all night? Are you emotional, sensitive, or angry? Do you engage in meetings?
Identifying your work habits is key to helping you determine how to manage stress. In order to avoid other health issues related to stress, it’s very important to learn how to manage the stress with the following techniques:
1. Mindfulness Guided Imagery
Guided imagery is a relaxation method that is assisted by the imagination. You can find mindfulness-guided imagery online that will help guide you through meditation. This type of relaxation allows your mind to imagine that you are in a safe, beautiful place. You can also practice mindfulness-guided imagery on your own, by turning on peaceful music and quieting your mind.
You can imagine being on the beautiful beach, with your feet in the warm sand, enjoying the sun beaming on your face. As you breathe deeply, taking in slow deep breaths, you start to calm your body and mind. This breathing method reduces the stress symptoms such as a rise in blood pressure. In this guided imagery, stress is not at the top of your mind. You are guided into a stress-free beautiful place to release your anxiety and be one with yourself.
2. Mindfulness Meditation
You may hear the word “Mindfulness” everywhere you go these days. Mindfulness has become very popular in the workplace and in daily life. Healthcare professionals also practice mindfulness to focus on the here and now. It’s a mental state where you focus on being in the present moment. You don’t think about the past or future, you just think about that present moment. When you stop focusing on the past and future and practice focusing your mind on the now, you reduce the amount of worry and stress in your mind.
You might not be able to control the future and you certainly can’t change the past, so the best way to cope with life stress is to just focus on today- the now. You can easily do this during a work break or anytime you feel like you need to practice mindful meditation to rid your mind of the stressful day.
To do this, all you need is a chair. Sit straight up with both feet on the floor. Close your eyes, and take deep breaths inhaling and exhaling while you pay attention to your breath and focus your mind on scanning your body. For example: Take deep breaths with your eyes closed; put your focus on your head, nose, face, shoulders, stomach, toes, etc., like a scan down your body. When you focus on this mindfulness body scan, you start to build self-awareness. Your entire body relaxes and you start to release the stress from your body. Mindfulness meditation can lead to improved emotional and mental health.
3. Mindfulness Gratitude
You can practice gratitude in your workplace even if you work-from-home. In a stressful work environment, it can sometimes be challenging to find things to be thankful for. However, think about it this way- if you have a job, then that is something to be thankful for. You’re not always going to agree with your co-workers, but you can always step back and evaluate the reasons why you may clash. Challenge yourself to look at any conflict as a learning opportunity.
You may learn the most from a coworker that is meticulous and always critical of you. You never know what someone’s story is and you may not know what they are going through. Be the bigger person and thank them for teaching you to be a better person. Take time to think of all the people at your workplace who make a difference, or matter. Take the time to think about those that clean-up the office at night or those that work through the weekend just to get ahead.
There is always something and someone to be grateful for. If you can afford it, give them a virtual gift card so they can buy a cup of coffee- your treat! The gesture is kind, and it makes you feel good. It also makes the person you are giving it to feel appreciated. There are gratitude journals that you can buy anywhere these days. Having a workplace gratitude journal will help you appreciate the big things, like having a job, and not sweating the small stuff. Take advantage when there is an opportunity to learn and become a better you.
You may read this article and say to yourself, okay- yes, I should do all of that to reduce my stress level and find a stress-reducing coping method. However, the truth is you won’t do it unless you create a habit. It takes 21 days to form a habit- this is the greatest gift you can give to your mind, body, and soul. Take this moment and block-off the time in your schedule. All you need is 10 minutes of mindfulness on a daily basis to reduce your stress levels for a healthier you. The positive results are worth it!