Mindful Mondays: Reducing Workplace Stress with Breathing Exercises

Written by Trisha Bhullar

Reducing workplace stress seems to be a global obsession— and with good reason! Considering that we spend almost 90,000 hours at work, it’s time to loosen up and fill our days with calm, peaceful thinking. 

 

DOES WORKPLACE STRESS ACTUALLY AFFECT HUMAN HEALTH? 

Higher stress levels increase the risk of hypertension, cardiovascular failure, and insomnia. Long-term stress can even lead to psychological disorders! 

 

BREATHING EXERCISES: DO THEY ACTUALLY WORK? 

Of course, there are plenty of ways to live mindfully and reduce stress at work. We’ve seen office-wide positivity campaigns, mindfulness office tools like Timequbes, or even decor in the form of stress-relieving greenery. Breathing exercises are simply the easiest way to start. 

Stress manifests as shortness of breath in the human body, amongst many other symptoms (e.g. inability to concentrate, breaking out in a sweat, etc.) The problem with shallow breaths is air remains at the top of our lungs instead of sinking to the lower regions, where oxygen can be absorbed into our bloodstream. Without this process, stressed employees start feeling tired, grumpy and less productive. Breathing exercises are therefore a great way to introduce oxygen flow and boost the body’s functionality. 

Breathing exercises help on a psychological front too! When you set aside time to focus on breathing, you’re consciously taking our mind off the tasks that stress us out. This is a perfect way to pull yourself out of a negative mindset and reducing workplace stress. 

 

#1 BELLY BREATHING 

What it does: this technique promotes focus, presence, and calm. 

How it works: Place your left hand on your belly. Using your diaphragm muscles, push your stomach outwards while inhaling deeply. Exhale slowly and let your belly return to its resting position. Repeat 5 times. 

 

#2 THE 4-7-8 METHOD 

What it does: this method, created by Harvard Professor Andrew Weil, specifically targets anxiety reduction. 

How it works: Breathe in through your nose for 4 counts. Hold that breath for 7 counts. Exhale through your mouth for 8 counts. Now, repeat that 4 times. 

 

#3 MINDFUL BREATHING 

In commemoration of our new Mindful Mondays Series, we couldn’t resist ending off with Mindful Breathing. 

What it does: this technique closely mimics the practices of meditation to clear the mind. 

How it works: Sit up straight and breathe as per normal. Count each exhale up till the 5th exhale, then reset your mental counter and repeat the process for 5 minutes. It will be tempting to stray from counting and entertain your own thoughts, but when this happens you should reset your mental counter and try again! 

 

MINDFUL MONDAYS FOR A MINDFUL LIFETIME! 

Practicing mindfulness sounds way more complicated than it actually is. Breathing exercises are simple, quick and free ways to catch your straying thoughts and refocus on the present. When it comes to stress management at work, we couldn’t ask for anything better!