August 27, 2020 – Reading time: 4 minutes
At work, we often find a lot of points that might stress us out and keep us up at night: lack of sales, issues with employees, problems with equipment and operations. Problems and thoughts will be whirling around, making us tired and anxious. Thankfully, there are methods and exercises to counteract this. In particular, the cultivation of mindfulness has been proven to improve overall physical and mental health.
A working day, just the way you like it. Like crazy, you type codes into your keyboard, answer numerous e-mails or work through your to-do list. You’re in a flow. And in the evening, your eyes burn, almost square from staring at the screen all day. Your neck and back are tense because you have been sitting in the same position on your chair for hours. Your head aches. You feel limp.
We are sure you have experienced this before. Even if you (hopefully) didn’t experience the scenario as dramatically, you might nod your head in agreement at one point or another. What can you do about it? Take care of yourself. In this two-part blog series, we would like to explain how this can work. We would like to start with definitions of the concepts “stress” and “mindfulness”. After that, we will give you a short instruction for a mindfulness exercise that you can exercise in your everyday life.
What exactly is stress?
The term originally comes from materials science, where tension or pressure on a material is called stress. In medical terms, stress is a psychophysical alarm reaction of the body. Stress mobilizes energy reserves in the body, boosts the metabolism and thus leads to increased performance and enables us to escape or attack. In the short term, stress can have positive effects, as for example in exam situations or during sports.
In the long term, however, stress has a harmful effect on our psyche and body. Together with a lack of exercise, it is considered the pathogen of our time and leads to complaints such as high blood pressure, muscle tension, overweight, headaches and back pain, burnout or lack of concentration.
A concept against stress: Mindfulness
Mindfulness is the counterpart of multitasking, digital continuous sound and a hectic lifestyle. The teaching of mindfulness originates in Buddhism, a concept that practices being conscious in the here and now – physically and mentally. For many people this is not a matter of course. We often get stuck with thoughts in the past, occupy ourselves with worries or think about the uncertainties of the future. In concrete terms, you can understand mindfulness exercises as wellness, as relaxation exercises that help you to come to rest and relax, but also to concentrate.
Integrating mindfulness into everyday life
A simple and quick exercise: feel your breath! Close your eyes for a moment and place your hands on your belly, approximately at the level of your navel (both possible if you are sitting somewhere undisturbed, but not a must). Breathe in through your nose and out through the slightly opened mouth – calmly and evenly. Now, consciously and deeply, breathe in and out three times into your stomach and feel your hands rising and falling on your stomach.
Repeat this short sequence, preferably regularly and several times a day. For example, every time you have sent an E-mail, finished a phone call or put your cup back. Take the time each day to consciously pause and breathe deeply. And treat yourself benevolently, in case it doesn’t work out. In the next article, we will look at the workplace: the desk and the question of why sitting is the new smoking habit.
Please note: This article is for information purposes only. It does not replace medical treatment or medical diagnosis. If your symptoms are unclear, please consult a doctor or alternative practitioner.