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Tackle Work Stress from the Inside Out

A 5-Minute Exercise to Find Relief -- and Fun -- in a Stressful Workplace

Most of us experience work stress, whether from constant multi-tasking, co-worker tension, lack of control over your own work, or something similar.

When external pressures in the workplace cause you to feel stress, it is certainly well worth the effort to address the external source. AND! It’s equally important to tend to yourself, ensure you’re promoting an internal sense of well-being, and giving yourself the opportunity to build resilience.

Below is a simple exercise you can use — in the moment, in just a few minutes — to calm your body and promote s sense of well-being. And, it’s fun!

Please keep in mind that introspective exercises can bring into our awareness thoughts or feelings we might otherwise avoid, such as old emotional wounds, triggers, or particularly difficult memories. If this occurs, consider stopping the exercise and getting some support from a qualified mental health professional, to help you process as you’re ready.

A 5-Minute Exercise to Tackle Work Stress

Step 1: Settle In.

Find a place where you can sit quietly, avoid distractions, and get in touch with a sense of calmness. Once your body is settled, close your eyes. Breathe in through your nose, out through your mouth; get into a rhythm of breathing.

Step 2: Start to Notice.

Draw your attention to what’s going on in your mind. Note imagery, including numbers or objects, colors or shapes, and words or phrases. If your mind begins to wander toward you to do list or other distraction, do your best to bring yourself back to breathing and imagery. Continue for just a few minutes.

Step 3: Come Back to the Room.

Reconnect with the space you’re in. Open your eyes.

Step 4: Take Note.

Spend a minute writing down the symbols, colors, shapes you remember. Don’t worry about thinking of everything; consider here that those symbols sticking with you are the most worth remembering. If appropriate, draw some of the symbols or shapes if you lack words for them.

If you’re at work, consider returning to your tasks at this point. You can save the rest of the exercise for later. Alternatively, if you have some additional time, you may choose to have some fun with the remainder of the exercise.

Step 5: Have Some Fun Interpreting!

Consider what some of the possible meanings behind what came to you might be. Personally, I love using dream imagery websites for interpretation ideas.

Step 6: Get Reflective.

Grab something to write on. What lessons can you draw from the symbols and their interpretations? Is there an issue in your daily life that’s been given some clarity or a new way of approaching?

If you find this exercise brings you a sense of relief in a stressful work moment, you may benefit from a regular mindfulness practice.

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