Silicon Valley is often the butt of jokes for the unusual workspace setups that some feel cater to an overly hip, distracted, entitled bunch of creatives. The extraordinary amount of money flowing in and out of tech and marketing companies probably makes unconventional office space seem even more frivolous.
Yet, the mindfulness movement is strong in the media, and supported by the medical community. Greater access to health care and focus on reducing stress and improving mental and physical health are allowing for freer conversation about how to balance increasingly hectic home and work lives.
You may not have a basketball court built into your office, or a corporate chef that specializes in local farm-to-table, or even an on-call massage therapist. There are five easy, time-efficient, and free-cheap ways to recharge during the work day, and keep you and your team on your best game.
1. Ten-Minute Meditation Break
The best practice for meditation is ten minutes (minimum) daily. Only ten minutes of each day can lower stress, increase focus, stimulate creativity, foster positivity, and more. All that, in only 10 minutes. Individually, or as a group, you can take a meditation break. Find a quiet space inside (or outside if climate), get comfortable, close your eyes, focus on the breath, and allow thoughts to come then go. Guided meditations are very helpful, especially for beginners. The Headspace app has many from which to choose, and a quick YouTube search will pull up hundreds of free ones.
2. Play for 15
This is so simple, so powerful, and yet can be so uncomfortable for adults. We’ve given up the basic, primal movement that kept our ancestors’ bodies (and our bodies as children) safe and fit, and kept our minds alert and curious. Chair-sitting is proving to have negative long-term affects, yet standing hurts our backs. Getting back into fluid movement stimulates blood circulation, lung power, dexterity, and energy as well as hinders development of degenerative brain disease. Climb, hang, crawl, skip, roll, throw a ball around, play tag or kick-the-can.
Music stimulates more parts of the brain than any other human function. It alters mood, increases creativity, fosters empathy, stimulates memory. It is very personal, though. If you work alone, having music on in the background will positively impact your day. Singing along is also a great stress-reducer. If you work with others, allowing headphones is a kind idea. Karaoke breaks, much like play, can bring some fun into the workplace.
We’re tethered to our tech for at least 1/3 of every day. We need to remove the ball-and-chain whenever possible on the job. Can you take calls on a mobile, outside? Do some writing or brainstorming on paper (outside)? Turn off the mobile, TV, and iPad to just focus on the computer? Unleash yourself. Responsibility and accountability are not related to how many different ways you can be reached by clients.
5. Fuel up wisely
Vending machines and fast food might be a last-choice necessity on rare occasions. Keep them rare. Eating cleaner and more deliberately immediately and directly affects mood and concentration. Pack food from home when possible, with plenty of healthy grazing options (nuts, dried fruit). Drink water, a lot. Powder additives and a shake bottle can keep the fire going during the day. Take a legit lunch break, for at least 30 minutes. Do not eat at your desk, in your office, or even inside if you don’t have to. Eat slowly, thoughtfully, thankfully.
Self-care needn’t be something we just do at home, in private. It certainly is something we can do with others, and on the job, without losing any of its benefits and in fact, applying the benefits to work. Enhanced creativity, increased productivity, extended goodwill, better physical health, more effective communication – coming from simple daily dedicated practice. Work hard, live better.
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