Deadlines, endless meetings and the bottom line. Everyone faces work pressures, but keeping your cool with the help of these Zen-inspired tips could increase your effectiveness in the office.
It’s 10:45 a.m., and you’re already overwhelmed. You have back-to-back meetings starting at 11:00 a.m., followed by an afternoon flight to meet an important client the next day and, oh yeah, your avalanche of unanswered emails need some serious attention. Sound familiar?
In this all-too-common scenario in corporate America, it’s easy to fall into panic mode, and frantically try to get everything done at once. But does that sense of urgency, commonly known as stress, really help your productivity at work? Your boss might want to think so (you know, the more stressed out you look, the harder you’re actually working, right?), but don’t bet on it.
The person who’s often smiling, relaxed and poised during the hectic day could be working just as hard, or harder, than anyone else. But the key to handling stress and being in a Zen-like state is within your power, according to Robert Volinsky, a licensed massage therapist practicing in New York City.
“The key to Zen is being in the moment,” says Volinsky, who also practices Reiki, Shiatsu, Swedish massage and stretch therapy. “It’s being present in that task, instead of thinking about all the things you’re not getting done because you’re too busy. And there are plenty of simple but effective tools you can use to calm yourself down and refocus your energy.”
Here are some of Volinsky’s tips for being more Zen-like at work:
Take a Whiff
Aromatherapy, anyone? One easy way to calm down when you’re stressed is to put a drop of lavender (one of the essential oils known to promote relaxation) on your palm and rub your hands together. Then cup your hands together and place them over your face and breathe. Keep your eyes closed. You can also put a drop on each wrist, which shares the wealth with any neighboring colleagues. “The scent fills the whole office, and people around you might notice, and enjoy the benefits,” says Volinsky. Oh, and if you’re having a hard time staying awake (another problem if you’re at work), follow the same steps with some peppermint, which is a stimulant. “Instead of having another cup of coffee, go right to the peppermint-oil bottle,” says Volinsky.
Have a Ball
A golf ball, that is. Take off your shoes and step lightly on the golf ball, rolling it around the sole of your foot. You can also roll the ball between your palms. “This stimulates the reflexology points for the entire body,” says Volinsky. “The body is mapped in the hands and feet, so you can stimulate your entire body this way.”
Here’s the Rub
Rub your hands together briskly, creating some heat. Then close your eyes and cup your hands together and rest your face in your hands. “This will help you bring your attention back inward,” says Volinsky. “When things get crazy, it’s essential to stop and remember who you are again.”
The Circle Game
Your chi (body energy) gets trapped in the joints of the body during stress and needs to be released. Starting with the neck, move your head in a circular motion. Move down to the shoulders and wrists and do the same thing. Then, stand up and move your entire trunk in a hula-hoop motion. Then move your legs and ankles in the same circular motion. Reverse direction. You can also clench your hands and/or feet together tightly; then open them up fully, to get the same effect.
You can actually meditate with open or closed eyes for as little or as long as you like. But to help your focus, find a relaxing, scenic photo and put it on your office wall. In times of stress, focus your eyes on it, which will quiet your mind. Or, you can close your eyes, and simply visualize a relaxing place. “The secret with meditation is to just do it,” says Volinsky. “Take a break and go back to your center. You can do it for a few seconds or 10 minutes, even while you’re standing at the copy machine, but do it!”
Let the Music Play
Plug in those headphones and zone out, baby. “If there’s a particular song that makes you happy, save it and only use it here,” says Volinsky. “Music is a great way to relax. But the key is to stop, take a break and remember the things that really matter.”