How to Destress at Work with Yoga and Meditation

  • By Regina Raap
  • June 23 2020

Many of us spend the majority of our days at work. That means sitting at desks, dealing with the stresses of deadlines and performance reviews, for almost a third of our lives. Unsurprisingly, that leads to a lot of stress, resulting in up to $190 billion in healthcare costs to manage our mental and physical workplace-related illnesses.

Considering all this, it’s no surprise that companies are looking for ways to reduce stress and promote healthy living before, after and even during work hours. The millennia-old practices of yoga and meditations are among some of the tactics used to put workers in a calmer state of mind, improving their mental and physical wellbeing and their performance along with it.

Introduction to Yoga at Work             

While we’re all probably familiar with the concept of yoga, it’s often looked down upon as a hippy craze for thin young people. Even those that don’t dismiss the idea of yoga outright think they will never be fit or flexible enough to do it properly, so never even try. 

The truth of the matter is that yoga is based on movement and breathing, something that almost everyone can do to some extent, and you don’t need to have a ponytail and full-body lycra to do it. 

Indira Chang, a lifestyle blogger at Writinity and Researchpapersuk, says “yoga is about balance and strength and flexibility, but it’s also about concentration and relaxation. It’s not really about mastering a pose or becoming “the best” in the same way other exercise trends are, rather it encourages you to become aware of your body and learn to love and take care of it.”

By making you more aware of your body, practising yoga brings you benefits away from the yoga mat. Workers who do yoga are better aware of their posture and will naturally sit more upright while working, and are more conscious of their breathing.

All of these habits are great easy ways to naturally improve physical fitness and remove stress at work.

Yoga at Work

You can benefit from just 30 minutes of yoga in the mornings before work, stretching out your muscles and energizing you for the day. But if you’re not yet convinced, there are some exercises that you can do right at your desk that will go some way to improving your mental and physical health in the office.

Try sitting with your back straight and your feet flat against the floor, then breathe in deeply. To see what deep breathing is for you, hold your hands over your stomach and fill your lungs with air; you should notice your hands move out with your belly as you do. Then expel the air slowly and forcefully through your mouth, pulling your navel inwards towards your back as you do so, making sure to completely empty your lungs. Repeat this a number of times, with your eyes closed if you feel safe to do so.

Once you’re comfortable with deep breathing, you can add some stretches. Slowly tilt your head towards your right shoulder as you exhale, rest there for a couple of breaths, then bring it back to center on an inhale. Then tilt to the left on another exhale and rest there for a couple of breaths. Make sure you’re not pushing yourself too much, but allow your neck muscles to stretch with the weight of your head as you breathe.

Next, to relieve some of your office chair stress, try some sitting Cat/Cow stretches. Rest your hands on your thighs, take a deep breath then, on an exhale, curl your back, bring your shoulders forward and your head towards your chest. Then, on an inhale, do the opposite: arch your back, pull your shoulders back and bring your head up straight. Slowly alternate between these to stretch out your body after long periods of sitting.

Introduction to Meditation

Meditation and yoga go hand in hand in body awareness, breath control, and relaxation. Meditation is another practice frowned upon by many, but in reality it’s as simple as giving yourself five to ten minutes every day where you don’t have to think about anything, you just get to sit, breathe and relax.

Mark Lamott, a content writer at Draft Beyond and Last Minute Writing, says that “mindfulness meditation, where you focus on your breath and your body, can be practiced anywhere, from your commute into work to your lunch break. It requires no equipment and does wonders to improve your physical and mental health.”

Meditation at Work

Meditation is another habit you can work into your day, but it’s also something you can do right at your desk. Start off by finding somewhere you won’t be disturbed, and sit with your feet flat on the floor and your back straight. Take a couple of deep breaths, just like in the above yoga examples, and allow your eyelids to close if it feels safe to do so. 

There are lots of mental exercises recommended for relaxing the mind, so it’s worth trying out a few for yourself. A simple one is to find a physical sensation linked to your breath - like the rise and fall of your chest - focus on that and count your breaths. Go up to 10 and start again at 1. If you get distracted by stressful thoughts that’s okay, just bring your attention back to your breath.

Start with this simple exercise and you’ll find you have the key to reduce workplace stress anytime, anywhere.

Author is a professional content writer at Lucky Assignments and Gum Essays. She is a writer by day and a reader of hard science fiction by night. When Regina is not on the computer, you are likley to find her meditating, stretching or playing with her dogs.

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