Kristi Ackland - HR Advisor
As a business owner or leader, you will experience unwanted stress at one time or another. The key to managing stressful periods is to have strategies and supports in place that will help you get through it whilst maintaining your sanity! At HR Staff n’ Stuff we see the damage stress has on businesses as we are often called in to assist with very challenging situations and we can and will help. But we also recommend a little self-help that only takes 2 minutes. Want to know more? Well, read on…..
Stress is a nasty toxin that can not only affect your body physically, but also your thoughts, feelings, and your behaviour. When we are highly stressed, the body increases its production of cortisol which is released during stressful times to give your body a natural energy boost; think ‘fight or flight’. This is great if you’re a deer running from a lion, but if you’re sitting at a desk, too much cortisol can have a tremendously negative effect on the body. Headaches, high blood pressure, muscle tension, lowered immunity, fatigue, anxiety, irritability, depression are all symptoms of stress. And let’s not forget loss of productivity which is absolutely going to cause damage to your business!
What can you achieve in two minutes?
So, what can you possibly do in 120 seconds that can stave off all of those nasty side effects? Would you believe that having a quick two-minute meditation practice can be incredibly beneficial with coping with stress and increasing workplace productivity?
OK so now you are thinking that HR Staff n’ Stuff has gone all transcendental and hippie. Not true! What meditation does is to give the practiser techniques to help separate from the mental constructs associated with stress and instead, reconnect with the body and the breath. This slows down cortisol production, reduces the ‘fight or flight’ response in the body and gives the individual the mental clarity to cope with the situation at hand.
Meditation is not a cure-all, but it can improve your capacity to deal with what is happening in the moment. If you want to get more serious about it, the long-term effects of a daily 20-minute practice can strengthen the minds ability to disconnect with stress, provide new perspectives and gain the ability to move through difficult situations with composure and ease.
It's not even hard to do. Here we have three simple mediation techniques that anyone can use.
All begin with the same grounding process:
Find a quiet comfortable position, either lying down on your back with your arms by your side and the feet slightly apart, or seated in a chair with a straight back if you are in the office, both feet flat on the floor and hands in your lap. Gently close down the eyes.
Bring your awareness to your breath. Allow the breath to occur naturally. Notice the gentle rise and fall of your chest and abdomen with breath.
1. Counting and holding the breath
Take a nice slow long inhale and as you do, count to three. 1… 2… 3… Pause for the count of three. 1… 2… 3… gently exhale for three 1… 2… 3… pause for three 1… 2… 3… and continue the cycle. If you find it more comfortable, increase or decrease the length of time, but keep it consistent. If you inhale for a count of five, pause for five and so on.
2. Body scan
Bring your awareness into your feet and toes. Notice the sensations you are experiencing. Are they warm or cold? Notice any pressure you can feel. Pain, tingles, tension or softness. Spend a few moments here and then move on to your ankles. Slowly make your way through your body, from the tip of your toes to the crown of your head.
3. Smell the flower, blow out the candle visualisation
Staying with your breath, with each inhale, and using your mind’s eye, visualise you are smelling a flower. Really see it. Notice the colour, shape, texture and size. Notice how it smells and really draw the fragrance into your lungs. On the exhale, let go of that and visualise you are blowing out a candle. Notice the size of the candle, the colour, the flame. Watch the flame disappear and the smoke rise up and away. Inhale and repeat.
Give yourself permission to look after your health BEFORE stress becomes a major problem and you’ll reap the benefits. You might want to think about encouraging employees to take two minutes out of their day to meditate too which might assist in reducing workplace stress, improving the management of stressful periods and improving overall well-being and boosting productivity. What have you got to lose?
If you need additional support to get through a stressful period that you and your business are facing, we are here to help.