You are a modern day Superhero of epic proportion. Your talents are far-reaching and your noble duties are not for the faint of heart. Able to engage in four back-to-back meetings; fulfill three critical deadlines; write and respond to upwards of a hundred emails; and perhaps mindfully embrace a difficult conversation or two … all before 5pm. Your commitments are executed efficiently, flawlessly and with the most admirable grace and ease. And, of course, we cannot fail to acknowledge the unwavering peaceful smile that accompanies it all.
Perhaps that last line should read: And, of course, we cannot fail to acknowledge the persistent moments of stress that accompanies it all.
Never fear, Superhero. You are not alone. We live in a world of constant demand that glorifies Busy. Naturally, you are more than capable of rising to the occasion, but it is critical to cultivate moments of peace so you do not compromise your greater sense of wellbeing. When emails pile up, deadlines approach, and stress begins to edge in, the true Superhero is committed to not only take a moment of pause, but to make work/life balance the cornerstone of all that s/he does.
There are easy ways to put that balance into practice at work. Here are five ideas to try right from your desk.
Set a calendar reminder for a Breath Break every hour. Inhale deeply and fully into the belly, feeling it expand and fill like a balloon. Exhale completely, perhaps even with an audible sigh of relief. Repeat three times and enjoy the immediate calm that follows this rush of fresh oxygen—the most critical nutrient for optimal brain health, clarity, and function. Between Breath Breaks, remember to practice good posture. A tall, straight spine will increase oxygen inflow by five percent or more.
Let There Be Light
Whenever possible, open the blinds to let natural light flow throughout the space. Exposure to natural light has countless positive effects on our physiology, not the least of which is increased levels of vitamin D, which boost the immune system to keep you healthy, happy, and present. If your office is not situated near a window, consider downloading circadian lighting software (I use f.lux) that will automatically adjust your computer monitor to reflect the level of sunlight specific to your geography.
Stop and Smell the Roses
Our sense of smell is the most sensitive and responsive of them all, and aromatherapy is scientifically proven to induce a number of desired effects in the mind and body. Choose candles or essential oils that evoke a memory from a peaceful, joyous time in your life. Aromas such as lavender, fresh cut grass, or ripened berries can trigger memories of joyous summer days spent outdoors, which will positively influence your mood. Because our olfactory receptors are so sensitive, they do dull if exposed to the same aroma repeatedly. So don’t be afraid to switch it up!
It IS Easy Being Green
Numerous studies reveal that when humans are in the company of plants and flowers, amazing results of accelerated healing, improved relationships, increased energy levels, and even reduced crime rates can occur. Create a peaceful nature sanctuary at your desk by bringing in at least one live plant, and perhaps a photo or two of your favorite outdoor space. If you are of the mind that tending to live plants is the equivalent of your Kryptonite, try Lucky Bamboo. Low maintenance, adaptable to low light … and who doesn’t love a little more good fortune in their life?
Take Your ‘Desk’ With You
But only before 5 p.m. Whenever possible, bring your meeting/project/conference call/[insert Superhero duty here] into the great outdoors. Walking meetings are becoming more popular and widely acceptable. Being outside in a natural environment can improve memory performance and attention span by 20 percent or more, and allow for more accurate, high-quality results. There is no greater way to cultivate a sense of peace than working smarter, rather than harder.
Enjoy these practices for peace and have fun creating an environment right at your desk that will promote that unwavering smile. And although you will not need it with the company of your newly appointed side-kick, Bamboo—Good luck, fellow Superheroes! Go forth and peacefully conquer.