For many people, day-to-day stress at work is viewed as the norm – an unavoidable side effect of modern life. But this type of chronic, unmanaged stress can make you sick, tired, and even accelerate aging. As many scientific studies have found, prolonged stress contributes to the development of high blood pressure, heart disease, stomach ulcers, autoimmune diseases, anxiety, cancer, insomnia, chronic fatigue, obesity, and depression.
While stress throughout the workday is often unavoidable, there are several simple ways to manage and reverse its debilitating effects, helping you prevent burnout and experience more fulfillment and happiness at work.
Focus on one thing at a time
In today’s fast-paced work environments, multitasking is often viewed as a skill. However, trying to do too many things at once can leave you feeling frazzled. As neuroscientists have discovered, the conscious brain cannot multitask. If I’m speaking to you and checking my emails at the same time, I’m actually doing neither.
The best way to avoid multitasking and still make sure everything gets checked off your list is to map out your day by compartmentalizing your time. When you dedicate each part of your day to one specific type of activity, you avoid the feelings of stress that surface when you think of everything you need to do.
The optimal way to do this is to apportion your time each day into seven different categories. They are:
- Sleep time: Get a full night’s restful sleep
- Physical time: Take time to move and let your body be active
- Focus time: Spend time alone to concentrate on what matters to you
- Time in: Set aside a few moments for meditation, prayer, or self-reflection
- Time out: Dedicate time to simply being present and resting into existence
- Play time: Give yourself time to have fun in a carefree mood
- Connecting time: Set aside intimate private time between you and those you love
Honor the mind-body system
When we are stressed out at work, the needs of our bodies often get neglected: We grab lunch from the vending machine, sit at our desks without getting up for hours at a time, or work late instead of heading to the gym.
The two sides of the mind-body connection are partners. When we ignore the needs of our bodies, our minds suffer as well, making us less productive than if we had taken the time to eat a healthy, nutritious lunch or enjoy a fifteen minute walk around the building.
The best ways to maintain balance in both body and mind are:
- Get six to eight hours of restful sleep every night
- Eat at the same time every day and don’t skip meals
- Eat a wide variety of healthy, colorful foods throughout the day
- Eat mindfully and avoid multitasking during meals
- Give your body a chance to move around at least once an hour
- Engage in at least half an hour of daily exercise
During meditation, your body releases stress and actually begins to reverse its effects. Even a few minutes of meditation before a meeting can help you feel more focused and alert. An ever-growing body of scientific data continues to confirm meditation’s many benefits to:
- effectively manage and release stress and anxiety
- improve brain function, enhancing focus, memory, and the ability to learn
- improve creativity and problem solving
- cultivate a deep state of peace and wellbeing
As the popularity of meditation grows in the West, we now have access to thousands of ancient and modern techniques. It can feel overwhelming to know where to begin, so to help people develop a practice, Oprah Winfrey and I created our 21-Day Meditation Experience Series, a free online program in which we offer daily instruction and guidance in the practice of meditation.
Hope you enjoy the gift of Day 1 – Success is a Living Reality from the new series.