21 ways to reduce stress during the work day

Mindful Practices

We were introduced to this list adapted from 21 Ways to Reduce Stress during the Work Day by Saki Santorelli, Director, Center for Mindfulness, University of Massachusetts. 

Take a look through the list and see if you can pick one out each day to incorporate into your working day. 

1. Take 5 to 35 minutes in the morning to be quiet and meditate – sit or lie down and be with yourself, gaze out the window, listen to the sounds of nature, or take a slow quiet walk.

2. While your car is warming up, or while you wait for transport, take a minute to quietly pay attention to your breathing.

3. While driving or on transport, become aware of body tensions (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 drive/commute better? What does it feel like to relax and drive/commute this way?

4. Decide not to play the radio or listen to/use your devices and be with your own mind.

5. If you are driving - experiment with driving in the left hand lane and driving five kilometres 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.

7. Take a moment to orient yourself at your workplace once you have parked your car/disembarked. Use the walk from your transport 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, again consciously dissolving any tension through your awareness to it and gentle movement.

9. Use your breaks to truly relax rather than simply “pausing”. For instance, instead of having coffee or reading, try taking a short walk or sitting at your desk to renew yourself.

10. For lunch, try changing your environment – this can be helpful.

11. Try closing your door (if you have one) or your eyes (if you don’t) and take some time to consciously release and relax.

12. Decide to stop for 1 to 3 minutes every hour during the work day. Become aware of your breathing and bodily sensations, allowing the mind to settle in, as a time to regroup.

13. Use the everyday cues in your environment as reminders to ‘centre’ yourself (e.g. the phone ringing, sitting at the computer terminal).

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

15. Choose to eat 1 or 2 lunches per week in silence. Use this time to eat slowly and be with yourself.

16. At the end of the workday, try retracing the day’s activities, acknowledging and congratulating yourself for what you’ve accomplished and then make a list for tomorrow. You’ve done enough for the day.

17. Pay attention to the walk to your car or public transport – breathing in the crisp or warm air. Feel the cold or warmth of your body. What might happen if you open up and accept 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 day, while your car is warming up or on public transport, sit quietly and consciously make the transition from work to home – take a moment to simply be – enjoy it for a moment. Like many people, you’re heading into your next full-time job – home!

19. While driving/on transport, notice if you are internally or externally rushing. What does it feel like? What could you do about it? Remember, you’ve got more control than you think.

20. When you have stopped the car or are approaching your home on foot, take a few moments 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 5 minutes to do this. Say hello to each of your family members or the people you live with. Take a moment to look into their eyes. If possible, make the time to take 5 to 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.

The Mindful Company Team

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