You may have tasted Nirvana at last night’s yoga class, but by 9 A.M. the next day you’re as tense as ever. If only there was a way to experience that kind of renewal and relaxation throughout the work day.
The good news is that you can. Try these yoga-inspired strategies to help transform your work day into a more positive experience.
Set an intention
In the beginning of yoga class, the instructor will often encourage students to set an intention. An intention can be something simple like strength or peace or joy. When you find yourself struggling, you can always return to your intention. It’s a reminder of your deeper purpose. Knowing your intention allows you to find meaning in the present moment and to make the most of the here and now.
Setting an intention is also a great way to start your work day. So often we arrive at work already frazzled, and then we jump into our email and become more frazzled. As we move from task to task, it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture and to sink into a downward spiral of exhaustion. Taking the time to think about a specific intention can provide a sense of clarity and calm. It reminds us that the point of work isn’t just getting through the day or earning a paycheck.
Intentions are especially helpful when you start to feel jaded at your job. Maybe you’re not so turned on by your daily to-do lists. There may be days when you’d rather be sick than go to work. But you always have a choice. You can resist the whole experience or go with it and make the most of it. When you create your own personal goals, you always win. You’re always learning and growing no matter what happens.
Take a deep breath
Focusing on breathing is a powerful way to find renewal during a stressful day. The next time you’re feeling anxious, instead of running to the vending machine, griping to a co-worker, or procrastinating on the internet, just take a deep breath. And another one. Focus on your breathing until you can sense an inner calm and quiet. It’s such a simple technique, and it’s always available to you.
Breath work is a powerful stress management technique because it reminds you that the solutions you are looking for aren’t outside yourself. You already have them inside of you. You don’t have to seek affirmation elsewhere. You can be secure and complete just the way you are. Letting go of your anxiety and tapping in to your inner strength will allow you to stay confident and energized at work.
When you find yourself hunching over and stiffing up, take a stretch break. Stretching increases blood flow and wakes up tense muscles, helping to renew you mentally and physically. Although you can stretch at your desk, you may want to go a step beyond that. Part of the monotony of office life is being stationary all day. Getting out of your chair can be a huge source of relief.
Take a ten minute break and go for a walk around the block. Find a nice spot under a shady tree. Try a few different stretches until you find one that really feels good. You don’t have to do anything elaborate if you don’t feel like it. Just relax. Do whatever feels good. Let your stretch breaks be a little reward for all your hard work.
Physically stretching your body is a great way to get energized, but the very idea of “stretching” can also revolutionize the way you approach work. If you’re stuck in a rut, think about ways you can stretch yourself mentally to keep growing and changing in a positive way. Are there different challenges you can take on or new co-workers to befriend? Staying open to new possibilities will help keep your job fresh and fulfilling.
Focus on the present
You may be surprised how often your mind checks out during the day. Here’s a clue: do you look at the clock every few minutes? Counting down the hours until closing time may be hard to resist, but if you feel like your day really gets started after five o’clock, you’re missing out on a lot of your life.
Instead of making the most of the present moment, you wish yourself elsewhere. You may think: I’ll be happy when I’m finally at home, drink in hand, watching 30 Rock. I’ll be happy when I go on vacation. I’ll be happy when this huge project is finally done. I’ll be happy when I get a promotion. Don’t make yourself wait that long. Be happy now. Focus on the present, no matter how humble and ordinary it may seem. Give yourself that gift.
Accept who you are
Yoga isn’t about being the best; it’s about being your best. And that means different things every day. Sometimes you can stand on your head; other days you’d rather stick with child’s pose. And that’s okay. Don’t beat yourself up when you experience ups and downs in your career. Comparing yourself to others and holding yourself to impossible standards will only wear you out. Be kind to yourself.
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