A Better Day Can Be Within Your Grasp Quickly
By Brent Flory
Having a horrible day at the office? Feel like you are literally on your last nerve? A two-minute break can make a massive difference in how the rest of your day goes.
I know how it is. When I used to work as a retail pharmacist, far too often I got overwhelmed by stress. I would feel my anxiety build and try to go on autopilot by shutting down emotionally and doing whatever I had to do to get through the day.
If the autopilot strategy sounds familiar, you know that there are a variety of problems with that stress relief technique.
- It makes you unpleasant to be around for both your co-workers and your customers.
- Not being fully engaged increases the risk of making a mistake.
- It just doesn’t work.
Stuffing your emotions down isn’t the answer. Neither is throwing your stapler at your boss. When you become highly stressed, your emotions begin to get the best of you and take away from your ability to think clearly. As a professional who is paid to use your mind, this is a problem.
You can learn to process your emotions well, even in a very difficult situations. It just takes some practice.
One technique that can help you turn around a rough day is what we will call a breathe break. It’s like a coffee break, but shorter, and minus the coffee. If you can look past those shortcomings, it could prove to be immensely helpful to you.
How to Take a Two-Minute Breathe Break
1. For thirty seconds, focus all your attention on your breathing.
That’s right, focus upon your breathing. Breathe in slowly for a four count, pause for a second, then exhale slowly for a six to seven count. If counting makes you feel more stressed, focus upon your breathing alone. Continue for thirty seconds.
2. Check in with yourself about what’s happening with your body.
Stress affects us in a variety of ways, and one of the easiest to pinpoint is how it affects you physically. Take note of your body. Are your shoulders tensed up? Is your stomach churning? Are your fists clenched? Spend thirty seconds continuing to slowly deep breathe, and identifying how the stress is affecting your body.
3. Try to discern what emotion you are experiencing, and rate it on a scale of 1–10.
Are you feeling anxious? Angry? Depressed? How intense is the emotion?
Being able to describe your emotions and their magnitude can help you calm down further. If you know what emotion you are dealing with, you can take steps to work with it as needed. Knowledge regarding emotions is power. Try to identify your emotions and rate their intensity for thirty seconds while deep breathing.
4. Accept what you are feeling, and then focus on your breathing.
Emotions become problematic most quickly when we try to fight or ignore them. You need to find the cause of your stress, acknowledge it, and decide whether it is something you need to address or let go for now.
Either way, give yourself the last thirty seconds to just focus your attention upon your breathing.
At the end of the two minutes, you will likely feel more calm than before you began the exercise. If you are still feeling swamped with stress, take another two-minute break.
The beauty of this exercise is that you can do it virtually anywhere without taking much away from your day. Instead, using this practice to calm down and recenter yourself upon the task at hand can make a massive difference on your stress levels, and your productivity.
You may think that you don’t have time even for a two minute break because you have to solve a huge problem for your project to be completed. However, research has also shown that we not only think more clearly but also more creatively when we aren’t stressed out.
Less stress? More productive? Greater creativity? Who couldn’t use more of those in their life? Do yourself a favour and take a breathe break. The more you practice, the better it will assist you in taking back your day.
For more help, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to talk with one of our coaches or counselors.