A few days ago I caught a glimpse of a great article on MSN.com. It was titled 6 Zen-Inspired Ways to Boost Your Mood at Work by Jenny Everett of SELF magazine. There were some great ideas on how to find your smile at work for free!
Here is a basic recap of some of the ideas mentioned:
1. Hop on the treadmill before work. If you can’t work out before work, Everett suggests breaking away at lunch. Aerobic activity may be the most effective thing you can do to bring on calm. Studies show that workouts counteract stress related memory loss by speeding up production of new nerve cells in the brain’s memory processing center. This is really a 2 for 1 deal. Get some exercise and reduce stress!
2. Green up you work area. A study from the University of Michigan found that office workers with a view of nature tend to be more enthusiastic and patient than those without. Research also found that people feel less stressed and get more done when they have potted plants around at work. Everett suggests opting for a fern or a peace lily, which are hard to kill.
3. Breathe. According to Everett, some studies show that regular meditation reduces the recurrence of depression as effectively as medication. If you cannot sit and chant in your cubicle, try doing little things like focusing on your breath. If your mind wanders, let your thoughts go and refocus on inhaling and exhaling. Aim to do this a few times a day for a couple of minutes – or anytime you feel like your head is going to explode!
4. Pack a Nutritious Lunch. Salmon, fruits and veggies are what Everett suggests. The omega-3 fatty acids in cold water fish help the brain respond to signals from the mood chemicals dopamine and seotonin. The antioxidants and flavonoids in colorful fruits and veggies work in combination with emega-3’s to protect teh brain from harmful inflammation that can trigger depression.
5. Prioritize. If your mind is scattered, Everett suggests picturing a firefighter’s ladder (strong, lifesaving, simple to climb). Set your to-do’s on each rung with the easiest on the bottom. You instantly prioritize ad can start putting out fires.
6. Pick a mantra every time you have a meltdown. Repeat a positive affirmation in your head. Research shows that reflecting on a personal value controls cortisol levels, effectively reducing stress. Can’t think of a good mantra? Try “I love my life!” and repeat it when you’re happy. You will train your mind to associate the phrase with being content. Then, when you are on edge, chant your mantra and you’ll immediately feel at ease. A study in the journal of NeuroReport indicates that people who meditate every day have a thicker cortex, the brain region associated with concentration and memory.
I like this list because all of the items seem very do-able. If you are like me, you are probably doing some or most of these activities to a certain extent and can make some minor changes here and there. I you find me in my cubicle chanting “serenity now” and or focusing on my breathing, you’ll know that I am just trying to find my smile on the job!