21 ways to reduce stress during the workday

The following “21 ways” are simply a guide to help you to find your own way of building Daily Mindfulness into your day, every day.  The example here is of someone who works in an office, probably 9 - 5.  After reading this why not write your own?

1. Take 5-30 minutes in the morning to be quiet and meditate- sit or lie down and be with yourself…gaze out of the window, listen to the sounds of nature or take a slow, quiet walk

2. While your car is warming up, try taking a minute to quietly pay attention to your breathing.

3. While driving, become aware of body tension, e.g. hands wrapped tightly around the steering wheel, shoulders raised, stomach tight etc. Consciously work at releasing, dissolving that tension. Does being tense help you to drive better? What does it feel like to relax and drive?

4. Decide to not play the radio and be with yourself.

5. If you drive on the motorway, experiment with driving in the slow lane, going 5 miles below the speed limit.

6. Pay attention to your breathing and to the sky…trees, or quality of your mind when stopped at a red light or in a traffic hold up.

7. Take a moment to orient yourself to your workday once you park your car at the work place. Use the walk across the car park to step into your life. To know where you are and where you are going.

8. While sitting at your desk, keyboard etc., pay attention to bodily sensations, consciously attempting to relax and rid yourself of excess tension.

9. Use your breaks to truly relax rather than simply “pausing”. For instance instead of having coffee, a cigarette or reading, try taking a short walk, or sitting at your desk and consciously release tention from your body, drop your shoulders etc.

10. Take your lunch break away from you desk, changing your environment can be helpful.

11. Try closing your door (if you have one) and take some time to consciously relax.

12. Decide to “STOP” for 1-3 minutes every hour during the workday. Become aware of your breathing and bodily sensations, allowing the mind to settle in as a time to regroup and recoup.

13. Use the everyday cues in your environment as reminders to “centre” yourself, e.g. the telephone ringing.

14. Take some time at lunch or other moments in the day to speak with close associates. Try choosing topics that are not necessarily work related.

15. Choose to eat one or two lunches per week in silence. Use this as a time to eat slowly and be with yourself.

16. At the end of the workday, try retracing today’s acknowledging and congratulating yourself for what you’ve accomplished and then make a list for tomorrow. You’ve done enough for today! In this way you can ‘let go’ and come into the present.

17. Pay attention to the short walk to your car, breathing the crisp or warm air. Feel the cold or warmth of your body. What might happen if you opened to and accepted these environmental conditions and bodily sensations rather than resist them? Listen to the sounds outside your workplace. Can you walk without feeling rushed? What happens when you slow down?

18. At the end of the workday, while your car is warming-up, sit quietly and consciously make the transition from work to home. Take a moment to simply be. Enjoy it for a moment. Like most of us, you’re heading into your next full-time job; home!

19. While driving, notice if you are rushing. What does this feel like? What could you do about it? Remember, you’ve got more control than you might imagine.

20. Before stepping through the front door, take a minute to orient yourself to being with your family members or to entering your home.

21. Try changing out of work clothes when you get home. This simple act might help you to make a smoother transition into your next ‘role’, much of the time you can probably ‘spare’ 5minutes to do this. Say hello to each of your family members or to the people you live with. Take a moment to look in their eyes. If possible, make the time to take 5-10 minutes to be quiet and still. If you live alone, feel what it is like to enter the quietness of your home, the feeling of entering your own environment.

Adapted from
Saki Santorelli
Stress Reduction and Relaxation Handbook, Center for Mindfulness.