If there is one way to improve your mood immediately at work, it’s through the breath. This exercise comes from my yoga teacher, Charlotte Stone. Try it, you’ll like it:
Stressed? Tired? Having trouble adjusting to the change of season? Take a Breathing Break with Wave Breath, Viniyoga style.
What? Now? Yes, right now! Just do it!
Here we go.
Turn off your phone. Have a comfortable seat. Take a deep breath in, and sigh it away.
Now, inhale and expand at your collarbones … ribcage … and abdomen. Enjoy the brief pause at the top of the inhalation. Exhale and release the breath slowly from the abdomen … ribcage … collarbones. Enjoy the pause between exhale and inhale. Repeat a few more times, taking your time.
Don’t strain, and don’t try to hold your breath; just let the breath come and go easefully, in an oceanic, wavelike motion.
Try Wave Breath for one minute. Yes, just one minute can make such a difference! When you feel complete with the breath, return to your natural breathing rhythm. Notice how you feel …
Mother nature is a powerful tonic for whatever ails you. When it comes to work and the people, places and things that upset us, nature can pull us out of obsession, worry or frustration in a minute. You may not have the time or the inclination to walk along a sandy beach or hike up a rocky mountain trail. Still, you can soothe your mind and refresh your energy by taking just a few moments in your busy day to observe and absorb some aspect of nature.
Even urban settings provide blue skies, racing clouds, bright sun and shimmering moon. Perhaps you catch a flock of birds soaring overhead. You may notice the hearty smell of the earth as you walk to your bus or car or train.
Try it. Just a moment of ingesting the air, trees, grass, reeds, birds, squirrels, water, sky, or whatever form of nature thrives in your environment.
Take it in. Feel your feet on the ground. Become aware of your place in the bigger picture. Exhale and move forward with your day.
A world famous baseball pitcher was recently interviewed after a record-breaking season. Asked to explain how he managed to pitch five shutout games in a row, he said, “I spent a year slowing down so that I could play better.”
He explained that slowing down allowed him to refine his form, build his stamina, and clarify his strategy. He slowed down his workout, he slowed down his practices, and he slowed down his pitches. Slowing down improved his concentration and enhanced his performance. It taught him how to think.
Slowing down to get ahead is anti-intuitive. Faced with a myriad of things on our to-do lists, it’s natural to think that we need to speed up, move faster, make quick decisions.
Today, if you feel overwhelmed by your workload, if your to-do list gives you agita, try slowing down. Focus in on what you’re doing right now. If your mind starts to race, take a few slow deep breaths and see if you can reduce the sense of urgency.
See if slowing down, just a little bit, can help you get ahead.