How to better manage work-related stress
3 April 2018 | beando_admin
Are you feeling stressed, tired and anxious?
Perhaps you worry that you can’t cope with your daily routine or feel as though there is never enough time. You seem to be constantly moving from task to task, with no time to just breathe and be yourself for just a moment or two. Do you find yourself thinking ‘if only I could just gain some time, I might be able to get on top of everything’?
Don’t worry, you are not alone. I have been there and at this moment, there are millions of others out there feeling exactly the same.
There is a yoga word for this constant, mental agitation: Vritti. It means ‘whirlpool’. Sound familiar? Your mind goes round and round in circles. You seem to have no control over it and the longer it continues, the faster it goes until you just feel overwhelmed and you get sucked down.
We all know what stress feels like. It manifests in different ways in different people. I am sure you know how it feels for you. It hurts. It feels real and it can cause suffering. Stress happens when we find ourselves caught up in a never-ending, exhausting doing mode, at the expense of spending rejuvenating moments in the being mode. If we don’t learn or forget to balance together both doing and being, we find ourselves off-kilter. It’s this lack of equilibrium that allows stress to thrive.
When we exist only in our doing mode we may thrive for a while, but it’s eventually exhausting because it’s really powered by the body’s natural survival mode. If we over-extend the doing mode it becomes driven by our fight/flight impulse. Continuing in this mode leads us towards a perpetual state of anxiety, fear and stress as the body prepares to respond to threats such as impossible deadlines, too much to do, overbearing colleagues, lack of empowerment, reward… the list goes on. The doing mode is characterised by the activation of the autonomous nervous system.
The being mode is the opposite – it’s our rest and repair state. It’s where we slow down, breathe a little and find a moment of stillness out of which clarity, perspective and insight grows.
The being mode is happy, creative and nourishing. It’s characterised by the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system.
The aim is to use both modes in unison, moving freely between them as you work. After a while you notice that you can learn to stay somewhere in the middle – to be AND do.
Stay in the middle
But how? Where can you find that centre ground?
It’s easy because you are already there. If you have a body that breathes and a mind that senses, then you are nicely located in the centre ground. It’s just that for now your attention is caught up in the doing mode. It’s a constant distraction and because of that you stop noticing what is happening to you, your body, your mind and your wellbeing. When we learn to direct our attention purposefully and with intention, everything changes – and it starts with the breath and continues to be established with meditation.
Breathe in, breathe out…
Your body, mind, awareness, attention, energy and nervous system are all connected to the breath. This gives the opportunity to control and manage how we feel but also where we are in terms of our doing and being modes. Conscious breathing shifts us naturally, both mentally and physically into the middle ground.
This is how:
- Sit reasonably straight at your desk, with both feet flat on the floor
- Breathe in through the nose slowly and softly
- Hold for a few moments
- Breathe out softly through the nose, with control, extending to at least twice the length of the in breath
- Hold for a few moments
After a while, and with practice, you will find that you have returned to your natural middle ground. Your perspective has shifted to a place where you can capitalise on the union of your being and doing.
This is the art of making happy work; in our beanddo modern meditation classes, we teach that meditation practice is simply a change of perspective from moment-to-moment. It’s simply a way of looking, paying attention and being aware. When we get it, everything changes.
Our being and doing mode then merge together until we find ourselves experiencing our FULLY ALIVE MODE!