20 Ways to Eliminate Stress at Work

The workplace can be a stressful place. Between personality differences, “one-size-fits-all” working environments (think: introverts hate open office floor plans), and having to always “do more with less” while wondering if your job is really secure, work can pile on stress like no other. According to the article “Making a Business Case for Mindfulness”:

Stress in the workplace is at epidemic levels, costing businesses an estimated $2,800 per employee every year.

Yet there truly are ways to find balance and peace along the journey.

How to Eliminate Stress at Work
Image: Ahmed Amir via Flickr
Here are 20 ways to find peace and balance in a busy day as a small business owner:

  • Personalize your workspace (include something in your space that makes it uniquely YOU).
  • Have visual reminders of your biggest priorities (could be photos of your children, partner, or dreams).
  • Drink lots of water. Hydration is crucial for health, well-being, and stress relief.
  • Eat well. Again, what you put IN your body is what fuels it.
  • Take regular breaks.
  • Minimize or eliminate interruptions.
  • Physically move during these regular breaks (we were not built to sit at a desk for hours on end).
  • Keep things in perspective. Unless you work in the ER or other emergency response environment, the crisis of the moment is rarely a matter of life or death.
  • Take your vacation time (and disconnect when you do).
  • Breathe deeply – oxygen is good.
  • Practice mindfulness and meditation in the moment.
  • Create space between receiving information and your response so you can respond rather than react. (Hint: this is a good opportunity to breathe or practice a one minute meditation).
  • Get enough sleep. We are a sleep deprived workforce and it costs us health and productivity.
  • Schedule your day to honor your rhythms. This will increase your productivity and reduce the stress of trying to go against your natural flow.
  • Get perspective. How you think about what happens makes all the difference.
  • Identify and stop imposing even more stress on yourself via perfectionism or setting yourself up for angst (like running late, overbooking your schedule, etc.).
  • Prioritize. Not everything can be an immediate priority. It’s an impossibility.
  • Create a no drama zone in your heart, mind, and space. Let energy vampires and crisis creators feed on someone else’s energy.
  • Treat others how to treat you. Create and enforce boundaries.
  • Cool the flames of panic, stress and overwhelm. Exhale slowly and press the reset button on any “fight or flight” reactions that show themselves.

What do you do to eliminate stress? Would love to hear your tips as well.

5 Tools to Cultivate Mindfulness in Your Business

Mindfulness in BusinessClients consistently tell me that I have a grounding presence in their lives.  The stability, mindfulness, and caring that I exhibit helps them nourish those same qualities within themselves as they go about starting or growing their business.  I attribute this part of my presence to my mindfulness practices.

While I certainly don’t always exhibit calm and equanimity in my life – I am just a regular human being same as everyone else, I have found that my ability to tap into these qualities is activated and deepened by my own commitment to a practice of mindfulness, both formal and “on-the-go”.

So, what is mindfulness? One of my favorite definitions comes from a brochure for the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society:

“Mindfulness is about being fully awake in our lives. It is about perceiving the exquisite vividness of each moment. We feel more alive. We also gain immediate access to our own powerful inner resources for insight, transformation, and healing.”

This act of being fully awake has a direct impact on the quality of our experience as business owners and our ability to be successful. It’s not just “soft, touchy-feely stuff”. Long before mindfulness became something we talked about, management guru Peter Drucker saw the connection between mindfulness and business. In his 1968 book The Age of Discontinuity he said: “Trained perception and disciplined emotion are as pertinent to the ability to earn a livelihood as they are to the mature human personality.”

Our minds, attention, intuition, and well-being are truly our most important assets when it comes to being a business owner. It is at the core of every moment, every decision, and frankly every dime earned.

Mindfulness is a practice born of ancient wisdom that has become the “new” secret to success.  In Mindful (April 2013), Jeremy Hunter writes

“It seems to us now that beyond cloud computers and brilliant smartphones, the secret to productivity lies within and between us. It’s about a calmer, more open and undistracted mind, greater self-awareness, and an enhanced capacity for self-transformation – not to mention disciplined passions and stronger human relationships.”

I know my own personal ongoing practice of cultivating mindfulness has changed my life and my business for the better. You don’t have to retreat to a mountaintop to do this.  That is why I want to share with you my personal top 5 tools that are easy-to-use, don’t require much time, and can be used wherever you go (because there you are!). [Read more…]

Silence Speaks Loudly

Silence Speaks LoudlyWhat do you hear in the silence?

Do you ever give yourself permission to be silent so you can listen?

Or, are you terrified of what you might find there?

I recently had the blessing of going away for several days with a small group of women from my meditation community. During that time away to relax, rejuvenate, and go within, there were plenty of opportunities to be silent. In addition to gathering in circle for meditation some of us observed silence for an entire day as well.

When I tell people this, their immediate reaction is:

I could NEVER do that!

They get visibly uncomfortable and start going on about how they could never, ever be in silence for an entire day.

So I ask – why?  They dance around the answer for a while…throwing out excuses like “I’d go nuts” and “What would I DO?” but at the end of the day what they mean is…

I’m afraid of what I’ll discover if I am alone with myself (my thoughts, my feelings) in silence.

Bottom line: this is the source of the discomfort.  And, I understand.  The first time I ever did an extended period of silence was when I did my first weekend at a powerful retreat.  This was more than ten years ago and I was definitely NOT the personal growth/spiritual retreat type (it was my first).  I was terrified but willing.

You know what? I didn’t die.  That’s right… I may have felt awkward, uncomfortable, and more than ready to break the silence at the end, but no lives were lost.  I experienced the world and myself in a different way.  When you aren’t babbling on about something, you truly can and do observe others and yourself differently.  I’ve personally found that there is so much that gets said in the course of a normal day that doesn’t add to the conversation.  It is just noise to fill the space.  In this ongoing noise is where we lose touch with our intuition and ourselves.  After all you can’t hear the whispers when there’s all that cacophony going on.

Consciously observed silence breaks that pattern.

Now, hear me clearly: just because you’ve decided to observe silence on the outside (what is spoken) doesn’t mean your mind is suddenly clear and ripple free like a lake in summer.  Oh no, no, no. Quite the opposite.  [Read more…]

How to Prioritize When Everything is a Priority

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