The business world is an inherently stressful place. And whether you’re an entrepreneur, an executive, or a professional climbing the corporate ladder, you’re bound to find yourself face-to-face with stressful situations every day – from looming deadlines to pressure to perform to overdue projects to issues with clients.
Stress is an inevitable part of the working world, but if you don’t know how to manage that stress, those situations high-pressure situations can start to take their toll on your health, your well-being, and your personal life.
But luckily, there is a way to effectively manage work-related stress and feel more calm, centered, and able to handle whatever work (and life!) throw at you – and that’s mindfulness.
Mindfulness, the practice of focusing your awareness on the present moment, is a total gamechanger when it comes to deadline with stress. Everyone from Oprah to Arianna Huffington cite mindfulness practices as their secret to success, and with a few simple mindfulness-based techniques, you can reduce your stress and feel more present – whether you’re preparing for a board meeting, pursuing a hobby, or spending time with your friends and family.
Let’s take a look at four mindfulness-based techniques you can start today to start reducing stress and feeling more calm and collected at work and at home:
One of the most effective strategies for managing stress is meditation. Not only do people who practice mindfulness meditation report less feelings of stress, anxiety, and overwhelm, but a recent study found that mindfulness meditation actually lowers stress hormones in the body by about 15%. The study also found that participants who practice mindfulness meditation over 8 weeks were better able to cope with stressful situations. Mindfulness meditation also helps improve focus and concentration, which can make stressful situations at work more manageable.
And the best part? You don’t need to meditation for hours a day. All you need is 10 minutes.
Mindfulness meditation is simple; it’s just bringing awareness to the present moment. Sit in a chair with your back straight and your feet flat on the floor. Allow your eyes to close, and focus on the inhale and exhale of your breath. If your mind starts to wander (which it will), notice it, and then bring your attention back to your breath.
It seems crazy that something so simple can make such a huge impact on the way you manage stress, but the truth is, that 10 minutes a day can completely change your relationship with stress – work-related or otherwise.
If you find yourself in an overwhelming or stressful moment, using breathing techniques is a great way to reduce stress responses and feel more calm. There are plenty of breathing exercises you can try to help you better deal with stress, but here are a few tried-and-true practices that will interrupt your stress response and leave you feeling calmer within minutes:
The most simple breathing exercise you can do to better manage stress is deep breathing. Sit, close your eyes, breathe in, breathe out. Make your breaths longer than you would normally (a slow count of four is a good benchmark). The simple act of breathing deeply and bringing attention to your breath can help to calm stress responses and anxiety.
If you want to immediately feel calmer, try the 4-7-8 breath. Exhale all the air in your lungs through your mouth. Inhale through your nose for four counts, hold your breath for seven counts, and then exhale through your mouth for eight counts. Do this four times, making sure to keep the 4-7-8 ratio.
The 4-7-8 breathing exercise is so effective because it helps to calm the nervous system and induce feelings of relaxation. If you find yourself feeling stressed throughout the day, pause and do this practice and you’ll immediately feel calmer.
Put your thumb over your left nostril and deeply inhale with your right. Then put your thumb over your right nostril and exhale with your left. Then inhale with your left nostril, cover, and exhale with your right. This practice is invigorating, centering, and is great to do right before heading into a potential stressful meeting.
Gratitude is more than just a nice sentiment – it’s actually good for your health. Research shows that practicing gratitude can help you sleep better, lower blood pressure, boost immune function, and – you guessed it – reduce stress. In fact, people who practice gratitude have 23% fewer stress hormones (like cortisol) than people who don’t.
Gratitude is powerful, it’s simple, and it can help to reduce stress in just a few minutes a day.
The key to gratitude is bringing conscious awareness to the things you’re grateful for. Journaling exercises, where you spend a few minutes each day writing down the things you’re grateful for, act as a gratitude meditation. When you’re bringing attention to the things you’re grateful for each day (like your health, friends and family, or prosperity), it’s easier to keep a healthy perspective on work-related issues – and not get overwhelmed by the stress of a missed deadline or challenging client interaction.
One of the reasons people feel so stressed at work is the seemingly endless amount of tasks that need to get done on a daily basis. If you feel like you’re constantly spinning your wheels and not getting anywhere – and dealing with a significant amount of stress as a result – you need to reframe the way you approach work.
In other words, you need to get SMART.
SMART Goals is a way to ensure everything you work on is clear, actionable, and in line with your goals. SMART is an acronym, and it stands for:
By using this as a yardstick to measure all of your work tasks, you put yourself in a better position to get things done – and feel less stress as a result.
So, for example, let’s say you were feeling stressed out about a looming deadline. The reason you’re feeling stressed might be because you’re not clear on what needs to get done to successfully meet the deadline, you’re not sure you’ll have enough time to get everything done, or you’re not sure how the project fits in to your overall strategy.
By using the SMART Goals technique, you can reframe the deadline to make it more manageable – and less stressful. S, M, and A will help you figure out exactly what needs to get done, R will help you get clarity on how the deadline fits into the big picture of your business (or how it doesn’t – in which case you can reevaluate), and T will help you figure out how to get all the deliverables finished in time.
There are SMART Goals worksheets out there to help you with the process, but the point is, breaking down your work using the SMART methodology will give you more control and clarity during the process – which will help you feel less stressed and better able to manage your workload.
The business world is a stressful place, but with these mindfulness based techniques, you have everything you need to better manage stress and feel more present – at work, at home, and in all areas of your life. If you want learn how to stay calm, relaxed and confident under stress without overwhelm or burning out click here to book a FREE Strategy Session with me personally.