At work, do you ever wish you could do the equivalent of putting yourself in timeout? Deadlines are looming, people are getting on your last nerve . . . you know the drill. But, it’s not always possible to physically leave the premises, or even vacate your office. How do you push the “reset” button when you feel anchored to your work station?
My suggestion? Take a mental “mini-vacation” – no more than five minutes in duration that will help you refocus and reenergize. It’s like a “staycation” for your mind. When you find yourself reacting instead of responding to a situation, you need a brain break. Just “step away” mentally and dedicate a few minutes transporting yourself away from this environment to one of calm. Your mind and body will experience the many advantages both immediately and over the long term.
Here are seven ways to take a break – even when you can’t leave your office:
Breathe deeply. Yes, I know this is listed everywhere in stress-reduction techniques and there’s a reason why: breathing deeply is the quickest and most effective way to calm yourself. As it turns out, deep breathing is not only relaxing, it’s been scientifically proven to affect the heart, the brain, digestion, the immune system — and maybe even the expression of genes.
Soothe yourself with images of the rolling ocean, the greens of the forest, the gentle sounds of a lake lapping the shores or even the smell of fresh lavender. Breathe deeply and count to ten. Do this three times to reset your thoughts and heartbeat.
Do some discreet stretching exercises at your desk
Envision what success will look like if you can mentally shake off what’s bothering you. Example: “When I leave work today, I will be proud that I didn’t let (Name) get the best of me.”
Take three minutes to look at something in your office that makes you smile or laugh – family photos, your favorite cartoon, etc. Think about how the item you’re looking at truly brings you joy – or at the very least, a reason to chuckle.
Invest in some natural aromatherapy and essential oils as calming agents, like lavender, mandarin or bergamot. Keep them at your desk or infuse some water and use it as a room spray.
Purchase and tend to a plant like the lavender mentioned above or another soothing fragrant flower. Each time you need to refresh your mind or take a “brain” vacation, simply close your eyes and breathe deeply. Learn to associate the fragrance with a calming experience or visual image.
Investing in your mental health benefits your overall well-being. If you aren’t relaxed, you aren’t in “flow” and then you aren’t working at your highest level of output. Stress and distraction diminish your capability. Give yourself a deserved mental holiday – with a brief “dream vacation.”