This week, reduce stress at work: 2: Starting and Ending

Mindfulness practice encourages us to drop into our awareness of breathing and our inner world as a way of working with stress. However,  keeping the sense of connectedness we feel in our formal practice is not always easy in the midst of a constantly changing everyday work life. So we need to build informal practices  – little strategies –  to help us  strengthen our awareness skills. This post suggests some practices for the start and the end of the day – the transition moments which are really important in maintaining or restoring balance.

  • Draw attention to the act of travelling to work – be it in a car or by public transport. Notice  any tension while driving – such as shoulders tensed with hands wrapped on the steering wheel – and consciously work at releasing that tension. See if you can stay in the awareness of just travelling without already being in work mode before you even arrive there.
  • When you arrive,  take a moment to ground yourself before you enter the building. If parking the car, become aware of your walking across the car park. Slow down and notice any tendency to rush. Use the walk as a conscious reminder before the workday starts. Listen to the sounds as you walk, notice the air and look around you.
  • At the end of the workday, consciously draw a line under the work you have done, making an intention to leave your work at work. Acknowledge quietly to yourself the end of the workday and be grateful for what you have accomplished. If possible, breathe mindfully for just one moment, letting go of the work.
  • Again, notice any tendency to rush on your journey home. Try and mark a break with the tempo of the office by slowing down on the way to the car or transport.  Make the journey itself as conscious as possible, restoring any balance lost during the stress of the day. When you come to a red light, use the moment to consciously become aware of your body, releasing any tension that has built up.
  • When you get home it is good sometimes to draw attention to the transition from work space to home space, by changing clothes or having a shower. Formally acknowledge to yourself that you are now home. If you can, take five minutes to quieten down and drop into stillness.

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