by Ditte Denisor
Life is messy and it’s constantly throwing stress at us. Work related stress is a huge cause of anxiety for many people. Stress at work may even lead to a lot of frantic nights reading every article and downloading every podcast there is on mindfulness and gratitude. Due to all this late night 'stress management' and self help, research, you’re either at the point of having honed a solid mindfulness practice or you’re totally turned off to the idea of it. No matter where you’re at in your journey of being in the “now”, practicing mindfulness and gratitude can keep you grounded and can prevent a complete breakdown.
Having an awareness of the present moment is one of the best tools that you can have to endure any trying situation—especially when it comes to workplace stress. The practice is often easier said than done but don't worry! Start where you’re at and go at your own pace.
If you need a refresher course in mindfulness, all you really need to know is that mindfulness is, “the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis” and gratitude is simply the state of being grateful. These are your greatest weapons to combat job related burn-out. Gratitude allows us to gain perspective and re-connect to what is important to us. Mindfulness allows us to practice kindness and empathy towards ourselves—something that usually gets tossed aside when we’re stuck in a negative environment or frame of thought.
Stress reduction methods are most successful when it becomes a part of your daily routine- just like brushing your teeth- but if you’re just starting out (or need to get back into it) it can also work wonders in small doses. Here’s how to start:
Mindfulness and Gratitude In Small Doses:
Take your time in the morning: As tempting as it is to hit the snooze button or scroll through social media in the morning, put down the phone and take this time to hang out with yourself. Wake up a little earlier (even 15 minutes will do it) and state one thing you’re grateful for. If you wake up super early with a little time to spare, make yourself a healthy breakfast, do a little yoga, take an extra long shower, take a short walk or take the time to really enjoy a cup of coffee without any distractions. While you’re hanging out, think of all the things you’re looking forward to or what you enjoy the most about that particular moment. Did you catch an awesome sunrise? Did you make the best omelette of your life? Those are all things you can be grateful for!
Take breaks: You are not chained to your desk. Take a break! Get up, walk around, stretch, grab some fresh air or refill your water. Taking a break during the day can recenter you and remind you of the here and now. Being sedentary wreaks havoc on the body and can lead to a slew of health problems. Periodic breaks will reconnect you to your body: does your back hurt? Is your vision blurry? Are you thirsty? Get your body moving and use this time to recharge. You’ll return to your desk feeling refreshed, focused and energized with decreased chances of constantly rolling your eyes at a co-worker’s request/chatter.
Start journaling: Write down your thoughts without any judgement or restraint. Take this time to be honest with yourself. What did you love or hate about your day? Did you learn something? Was it better or worse than the day before? Journaling is a great way to vent, rant, and work through whatever is stressing you out. Writing down your thoughts can also help to present solutions to issues that you haven’t considered.
Spend time with people who keep you sane: If you have people in your life who don’t stress you out and bring light to your life, spend time with them! A long work day can be draining. You may not want to look at anyone after spending 8 hours with insufferable co-workers, but love, a listening ear and laughter can go a long way when dealing with stress.
Be still: Maybe you don’t have it in you to be social, pick up a pen or make dinner. That’s okay, too. After a particularly trying day you deserve to do absolutely nothing. If it helps you to go home, order a pizza, netflix and chill, and head to bed early- do so! Give yourself the night off from grocery shopping, laundry, or returning e-mails. Taking care of yourself and being consciously aware of your emotions is one of the biggest components to mindfulness. Develop a keen sense of knowing what your limits are and what you can and cannot do. Order the pizza with a side salad and make sure to get lots of rest! Before you hit the sheets state one thing you’re grateful for before falling asleep.
These small tools can be a lifesaver when you need an emergency reality check, guidance or a little bit of TLC. When you find yourself on the brink of a mini nervous breakdown remember: you have a plan to keep you in charge of your zen.
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