Posted in Anxiety

Zen Your Way to Work

The only way to do great work is to love what you do.  If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.

Steve Jobs

Getting up and going to work can be a real challenge. When you are returning to work after an extended leave or illness can be overwhelming but it doesn’t behave to be! There are small changes or additions that you can incorporate into your routine that will help keep you in a positive mindset and create a comfortable work space when you arrive at your desk.

One day at a time…

Below is a list of zen ideas to help you transition back into the office:

  1. Set your alarm 15 minutes earlier than usual – allow yourself time to press the snooze button, ease your feet to the floor and lift your head off the pillow.
  2. Take time to sip your favorite morning drink. Whether it’s a cup of hot water with lemon, a fruit smoothie or a steaming cup of coffee, let that first sip be a moment of self care for the day.
  3. Dress the part – keep the goal in mind. Of course there are days that I wear my jeans to work with a nice top but for the most part I dress like a boss. The key to incorporating some zen into your wardrobe is picking out the articles or accessories that make you feel good. Wear a comfy pair of colorful shoes, a funny pair of socks, stacks of bracelets or your favorite printed scarf. Set your alarm 15 minutes earlier than usual – allow yourself time to press the snooze button, ease your feet to the floor and lift your head off the pillow.
  4. The commute to work can be quite stressful as we need to do drop offs at school and/or daycare, make our way through traffic and various weather conditions. With a little advance planning, you can create a playlist of tunes, download some podcasts or listen to audio books to shift your focus elsewhere during the commute.
  5. Add 1-2 family pictures to your desk area along with a green plant ( or more of you have a green thumb!) occasionally bring in flowers to freshen up your desktop.
  6. Keep your work area clean. Remove piles of papers, extra office supplies. Make a point of dusting and wiping down the desktop at least once a week.
  7. Get an ergonomics assessment done to ensure you have all the office furniture and supplies you need to be comfortable, productive and efficient.
  8. Consider a happy light! If you are in an office with no natural light, a happy light for seasonal depression can be your savior. Even if you have a window office, it can be a great tool for those dark Fall and Winter days that are part of many time zones.
  9. Determine if music helps or hinders you. I have never been able to study or work In silence – I need background noise. I have a small radio at my desk to energize me with some tunes to keep me on task.
  10. The sense of smell is connected to our emotional center, so adding a scent that evokes pleasant memories can calm your nervous system. My personal favorites are fruit incense stick in grapefruit, lemon and strawberry. Peppermint, cinnamon and rosemary can help with energy and focus. If you share an office and can’t have essential oils or candles, you can make a cup of tea with these ingredients have the benefits.

I hope that some of these ideas will help you while you start your progressive return or restart your daily work routine.

Inhale. Exhale.

Violet Buddha

Posted in Anxiety, Meditation

The Power of Breath

“Smile, breathe and go slowly.” ~Thích Nhất Hạnh

Anxiety and panic can arise at the most inconvenient and unconventional times.  I have found myself on many occasions in the midst of an attack when I am all by myself, with no apparent trigger or intrusive thoughts but for some reason my body reacts.

It took some time and several entries in my journal marking down the environment, what I had been doing or thinking prior to the attack and compiling my symptoms to come to the realization that I had a warning sign every single time – my breath.

As I start to feel overwhelmed by thoughts or feelings, the first thing that changes in my body the speed and depth of my breath.  My breathing starts to become quick, shallow and uneven. My nervous system goes into overdrive and with each breath I escalate my fight or flight response from my nervous system. I needed an antidote that was quick, easy and available at all times – the key was breath.

Calming Mind and Breath

Learning to be conscious of my breath through bost meditation and my yoga practice has been particularly beneficial to my anxiety disorder. Having the instinct to breathe slowly and evenly through my nose while engaging my diaphragm has improved my posture, lowered my blood pressure and significantly decreased my stress related pain points.

Whether you are trying to improve your health, or seeking a bit of zen, pausing several times a day to breathe deeply promoted relaxation, concentration and improve mental clarity.  Another positive result that I have noticed is when I do my deep breathing throughout the day and then about 30 minutes before bed, I have much improved sleep. As someone who has struggled with insomnia for years, this has been the most amazing side effect.

Deep Breathing Basics

Here are two easy exercises you can incorporate into your daily routine.

  1. Lie on your back, bend your knees toward the ceiling and keep your feet flat on the floor.  Put a hardcover book on your abdomen (just under your belly button) and watch how the book rises and falls as you breathe deeply, slowly and evenly.
  2. Lie in your bed, with a pillow under your head and both hands resting on your stomach.  Watch you belly rise and fall with each breath. Try inhaling for 4 counts, hold for 2 counts and then exhale completely for 5 counts. Repeat this 5 times or until you feel the tension in your body release.

If you prefer a little more guidance and flexiblity to do your breathing practice at any time, then try the OMM app…..

App Store: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/one-moment-meditation/id873255555

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.onemomentmeditation.omm1&hl=en

Inhale.  Exhale.

Violet Buddha