How to be stress free at work and end overwhelm

How to be stress free at work and end overwhelm

Whether you are going into work or working from home, the COVID-19 pandemic has probably changed the way you work. Fear and anxiety about this new disease and other strong emotions can be overwhelming, and workplace stress can lead to burnout external icon . How you cope with these emotions and stress can affect your well-being, the well-being of the people you care about, your workplace, and your community. During this pandemic, it is critical that you recognize what stress looks like, take steps to build your resilience and manage job stress, and know where to go if you need help.

  • Feeling irritation, anger, or in denial
  • Feeling uncertain, nervous, or anxious
  • Lacking motivation
  • Feeling tired, overwhelmed, or burned out
  • Feeling sad or depressed
  • Having trouble sleeping
  • Having trouble concentrating

Know the common work-related factors that can add to stress during a pandemic:

  • Concern about the risk of being exposed to the virus at work
  • Taking care of personal and family needs while working
  • Managing a different workload
  • Lack of access to the tools and equipment needed to perform your job
  • Feelings that you are not contributing enough to work or guilt about not being on the frontline
  • Uncertainty about the future of your workplace and/or employment
  • Learning new communication tools and dealing with technical difficulties
  • Adapting to a different workspace and/or work schedule
  • Communicate with your coworkers, supervisors, and employees about job stress while maintaining social distancing (at least 6 feet).
    • Identify things that cause stress and work together to identify solutions.
    • Talk openly with employers, employees, and unions about how the pandemic is affecting work. Expectations should be communicated clearly by everyone.
    • Ask about how to access mental health resources in your workplace.
  • Identify those things which you do not have control over and do the best you can with the resources available to you.
  • Increase your sense of control by developing a consistent daily routine when possible — ideally one that is similar to your schedule before the pandemic.
    • Keep a regular sleep schedule external icon .
    • Take breaks from work to stretch, exercise, or check in with your supportive colleagues, coworkers, family, and friends.
    • Spend time outdoors, either being physically active or relaxing.
    • If you work from home, set a regular time to end your work for the day, if possible.
    • Practice mindfulness techniques external icon .
    • Do things you enjoy during non-work hours.
  • Know the facts about COVID-19. Be informed about how to protect yourself and others. Understanding the risk and sharing accurate information with people you care about can reduce stress and help you make a connection with others.
  • Remind yourself that each of us has a crucial role in fighting this pandemic.
  • Remind yourself that everyone is in an unusual situation with limited resources.
  • Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting and mentally exhausting
  • Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns, how you are feeling, or how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting you.
    • Connect with others through phone calls, email, text messages, mailing letters or cards, video chat, and social media.
    • Check on others. Helping others improves your sense of control, belonging, and self-esteem. Look for safe ways to offer social support to others, especially if they are showing signs of stress, such as depression and anxiety.
  • If you feel you may be misusing alcohol or other drugs (including prescription drugs) as a means of coping, reach out for help.
  • If you are being treated for a mental health condition, continue with your treatment and be aware of any new or worsening symptoms.

If you feel you or someone in your household may harm themselves or someone else:

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline external icon
    • Toll-free number 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)
    • The Online Lifeline Crisis Chat external icon is free and confidential. You’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor in your area.
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline external icon
    • Call 1-800-799-7233 and TTY 1-800-787-3224

If you are feeling overwhelmed with emotions like sadness, depression, or anxiety:

  • Disaster Distress Helpline external icon
    • Call or text 1-800-985-5990
  • Check with your employer for information about possible employee assistance program resources.

If you need to find treatment or mental health providers in your area:

How to be stress free at work and end overwhelm

You’ve got so much to do that you don’t know where to begin. That sickly feeling of anxiety is rising. Yet you’re frozen.

Just when life demands that you be charging ahead, firing on all cylinders, actioning to-do lists and kicking goals, your old frenemy Overwhelm decides to pay you a visit. Don’t feel alone. It happens to the best of us. And there is hope.

Here are 10 effective ways to cope with stress and overwhelm from having too much to do.

1. Meditate or take a moment to be still

It sounds counterintuitive — deadlines are looming, how can you stop?

When the Dalai Lama is busy, he meditates for twice as long. This is because meditation calms the body and stills the mind. It’s been proven to reduce your anxiety and stress levels, sharpen your memory, and increase your focus.

If you’ve never meditated before, just spend a few minutes sitting in silence. A good relaxing mantra to repeat is, “I’ve got nowhere to go, nothing to do. Nowhere to go, nothing to do.”

2. Action a few quick and easy items first

It goes against the traditional wisdom of prioritizing the most significant things, but getting a few of the simplest tasks completed will shorten your terrifying to-do list, make you feel like you’re making progress, and get you back in the flow of taking action.

3. Cull or postpone anything that doesn’t really need doing

Most of us are prone to over-engineering solutions to problems. What really needs to be done? What tasks overcomplicate the matter or don’t add value? What can you postpone for a few weeks? You should be able to cross out a good chunk of your to-do list by answering these questions.

4. Set realistic goals

It’s great to aim high, but if you always aim too high when settling your to-do list for the day and inevitably fall short of completing it, you’re repeatedly left feeling like a failure. There are on 24 hours in a day. Roughly estimate how long tasks will take and set ambitious — but realistic — goals.

5. Lean on people and delegate

Don’t underestimate your friends, family, colleague, neighbour or even an acquaintance (a ‘friend in waiting’). It feels good to give, to help people out.

If you ask in a considerate way and give them the option to turn you down if they can’t take it on, there’s no need to feel guilty about asking. You’re contributing to building the warm, open-hearted, collaborative community that we all want to live in.

6. Be kind to yourself

Be gentle. This is not the time to beat yourself over the head. Overwhelm can lead to feelings of inadequacy and failure, so it’s extra important to pay attention to your mental radio and turn down the volume on your inner critic station.

7. Prioritize your competing values and interests

You can do anything, but not everything.

When you have multiple passions, it’s hard to accept that you can’t always juggle work, personal and creative projects, extra education, housework, friendships, errands, meeting with the accountant and electrician, “me” time, dance class, book club and write that novel all at once.

You don’t have to give up the things you love. Just realize that you can’t do everything at once. And you’re not ‘losing out’ by putting dream #4 on hold to work on dreams #1, #2 and #3 – you’re making yourself more likely to succeed at them all.

8. Don’t multitask

Studies have shown that multitasking is a myth. You may think you’re writing an email while chatting on the phone and occasionally checking on dinner all at once, but in reality your brain is constantly switching from task to task and back again. Doesn’t that sound exhausting? It is, and you’re depleting your precious mental energy.

Focus on one task at a time, and give it your full love and attention. You will be amazed how quickly (and well) you get things done when you work in this single-focused way.

9. Change your energy

If you can’t change your mind, try changing your environment and body. If you’re feeling twitchy and over-anxious, go for a quick run or do 10 minutes of yoga. If you’re feeling stressed and teary, call a friend and have a laugh.

Again, it may sound like precious time wasted, but how many minutes (hours? days?) have you wasted trapped in a state of overwhelm? The time it takes is worth it — just do it with a specific purpose and set a timer so you are not inadvertently using it to procrastinate.

10. Remember the bigger picture

It’s so easy to get completely stressed out about a deadline at work, an unfinished personal project, the laundry pile, and the fact you might have to grab take-out instead of cooking.

Remember that life is long and beautiful, and this is just one busy period and it will pass.

You presumably have a place to call home, access to food to nourish your weary body and mind, a few friends to lean on, maybe someone to love if you’re lucky, future dreams, the pending loveliness of the summertime each year, your morning coffee to look forward to, holiday plans, a favourite book. If you don’t get through your to-do list, it’s okay.

Sigh with relief and smile with gratitude. Remember what really matters.

Welcome to the #culturedrop. Every Tuesday, Galen Emanuele emails tools to advance leadership skills, team culture, and personal growth. No spam, just great content. Sign up now to get it in your inbox.

Managing overwhelm and reducing stress is an extremely important conversation. This year has brought many challenges and changes and it’s easy to become overwhelmed or completely burnt out if you are not aware of or intentional about your workload and stress levels.

Here’s a list of 16 different ideas and methods that either work for me, or I’ve heard other people having a lot of success with to manage overwhelm and cut down on stress.

1. Empower other people to solve problems.

Empower other people to solve problems and deal with things. A lot of times as a leader or even just part of a team we feel like if we don’t put our hands in something and fix it or do it ourselves, it won’t get done right. You do not have your hands in every single thing. If you find that you’re constantly having to help and do other people’s work for them, empower people to solve their own problems and specifically ask them to step up.

Clarity helps a lot in this regard, be clear and concise with people about exactly what, how, and when you need things from them.

2. Learn to delegate.

Along with empowering people is delegating. Get things off of your plate.

The people who (I think) end up the most stressed out and overwhelmed are people who are control freaks. Delegate to other people, take everything off your plate that you possibly can and give it to other people. This can be hard if delegating is not your strong suit or normal mode of operating, but do it. Especially if you are a leader, get good at delegating to help you and your team.

3. Start saying “No.”

Stop adding things to your plate. When an opportunity comes up, even if it’s awesome and sounds fun and lovely, learn to say no. Get on a strict, steady diet of no. Practice these words, have them ready:

No I’m not able to do that, I don’t have the bandwidth for that, it’s not possible for me to take that on at this time.

Have some boundaries about what you continue to add to your plate.

4. Make sure your work aligns with your strengths.

This one requires a bit of an audit for yourself, but make sure you are doing something either in your job or your life that you’re good at. Doing things that you like to do, and that charge your batteries is healthy and good for the brain and body.

If you are the kind of person that likes to be building something and doing the busy work, make sure that you’re not spending most of your job daydreaming and brainstorming ideas and vice versa. Make sure that your strengths and the things that you’re good at are being put to work and part of your job/life.

It’s a very quick path to being burnt out, and overwhelmed, and feeling super stressed out when you’re doing something that is outside of your strengths or natural state of flow.

5. Do something weird, for no reason at all.

One thing that is really serious is do something weird for no reason at all, just no reason.

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Amy Morin, LCSW, is the Editor-in-Chief of Verywell Mind. She’s also a psychotherapist, international bestselling author and host of the The Verywell Mind Podcast.

How to be stress free at work and end overwhelm

Research has indicated that the percentage of Americans who are stressed at work is high—and it’s only getting higher. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, 29 to 40% of Americans report being “extremely stressed at work.”  

Work stress has significant health consequences that range from relatively benign (like getting more colds and flus) to potentially serious (such as heart disease and metabolic syndrome).  

While stress at work is common, finding a low-stress job is hard (if not impossible). A more realistic approach is to adopt effective coping strategies to reduce stress at your current job. Here are some stress management techniques you can try if you are finding it hard to cope with work stress.

How to be stress free at work and end overwhelm

Start Your Day off Right

After scrambling to get the kids fed and off to school, dodging traffic and combating road rage, and gulping down coffee in lieu of a healthy breakfast, many people arrive to work already stressed. This makes them more reactive to stress in the workplace.

You might be surprised by how affected by workplace stress you are when you have a stressful morning. When you start off the day with planning, good nutrition, and a positive attitude, you might find that the stress of your job rolls off your back more easily.

Be Clear on Requirements

A factor known to contribute to job burnout is unclear requirements for employees. If you don’t know exactly what is expected of you, or if the requirements for your role keep changing with little notice, you might become extremely stressed.

If you find yourself never knowing if what you are doing is enough, it may help to have a talk with your supervisor. You can take the time to go over expectations and discuss strategies for meeting them. This can relieve stress for both of you!

Stay Away From Conflict

Interpersonal conflict takes a toll on your physical and emotional health. Conflict among co-workers can be difficult to escape, so it’s a good idea to avoid conflict at work as much as you can.

Don’t gossip, don’t share too many of your personal opinions about religion and politics, and steer clear of “colorful” office humor.

When possible, try to avoid people who don’t work well with others. If conflict finds you anyway, make sure you know how to handle it appropriately.

Stay Organized

Even if you’re a naturally disorganized person, planning ahead to stay organized can greatly decrease your stress at work. Being organized with your time means less rushing in the morning to avoid being late as well as less hustling to get out at the end of the day.

Keeping yourself organized can also mean avoiding the negative effects of clutter, and being more efficient with your work.

Be Comfortable

Another surprising stressor at work is physical discomfort, often related to where you perform most of your daily tasks (such as your desk).

You might not notice you’re stressed if you’re sitting in an uncomfortable chair for just a few minutes, but if you practically live in that chair when you’re at work, you might have a sore back and be more reactive to stress because of it.

Even small things like office noise can be distracting and cause feelings of low-grade frustration. Do what you can to create a quiet, comfortable, and soothing workspace.

Forget Multitasking

Multitasking was once heralded as a fantastic way to maximize one’s time and get more done in a day. However, people eventually began to realize that if they had a phone to their ear and were making calculations at the same time, their speed and accuracy (not to mention sanity) often suffered.

There is a certain “frazzled” feeling that comes from splitting your focus and it doesn’t work well for most people. Instead of multitasking to stay on top of your tasks, try another cognitive strategy like chunking.

Walk at Lunch

Many people feel the ill effects of leading a sedentary lifestyle. You can combat the physical and mental effects of work stress by getting some exercise on your lunch break.

If your schedule allows for it, you might try taking short exercise breaks throughout the day. This can help you blow off steam, lift your mood, and get into better shape.

Keep Perfectionism in Check

Being a high achiever might make you feel good about yourself and help you excel at work, but being a perfectionist can create problems for you (and those around you).

You might not be able to do everything perfectly, every time—especially in a busy, fast-paced job. A good strategy to avoid the perfectionism trap is always striving to just do your best and making time to congratulate yourself on your efforts. You may find that your results are better and you’ll be much less stressed at work.

Listen to Music on the Drive Home

Listening to music offers many benefits and can be an effective way to relieve stress before, during, and after work. Playing an uplifting song while you make breakfast can help you start the day off feeling better prepared to interact with the people in your life. Likewise, combating the stress of a long day with your favorite music on the drive home can help you wind down and feel less stressed when you get there.

From saying ‘no’ to understanding what triggers your stress – our experts share advice on how to stop feeling overloaded

  • Considering changing jobs? Explore the range of vacancies on Guardian Jobs and find the perfect role for you

Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, says Sarah Connell. Photograph: Getty Images

Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, says Sarah Connell. Photograph: Getty Images

Last modified on Tue 30 Oct 2018 08.23 GMT

Understand the triggers

When you are feeling overwhelmed at work, it is important find out why you feel that way. Do you have too many responsibilities, or feel there are too few hours in the day? Is your boss piling on the pressure? Or is the company culture getting you down?

“Feeling overwhelmed is actually a stress response when we feel the demand on us outweighs our resources,” says Diana Dawson, career psychologist and owner of Working Career. Feeling out of control and under pressure is a form of emotional overloading and can also trigger the release of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, she says.

Keeping a journal of thoughts, feelings and actions can help you identify what causes this reaction, she adds. “Once we understand what triggers the stress, we can perhaps understand why that is and we can build strategies around those things.”

Don’t suffer in silence

If your workload is unmanageable, it’s a good idea to speak to your boss. This can be a daunting prospect, but making a plan before your discussion will help. Revisit your job description before the meeting. “Explain to your boss the tasks you are involved in, how long they take, the resources they require, why you find them challenging, and practical suggestions for a solution,” suggests Sarah Connell, a business psychologist and founder of MindingMe Psychologists.

“Try to control your emotions in the meeting, remain calm and professional. Focus on concerns about quality to demonstrate you are still committed to doing a good job,” she says. “It is not a sign of weakness, asking for help, and your manager may not realise how much work you have on.”

David Webb, writer and editor at employment relations specialist Acas, says that if your boss is professional, you should get a positive reaction when raising the issue. “The situation may be because of a temporary factor you are unaware of, and they may be able to help in some way.” This is an ideal scenario, but unfortunately not always the case. “If a bad boss is putting extra work on you without caring, then that’s a more difficult situation,” he says. In these circumstances, it is worth speaking to a trade union or employee representative and look into the company’s grievance procedure.

Learn to say no

The ability to say no “is probably my top tip for life as well as work,” says psychotherapist and life coach Hilda Burke. Often people who say yes to everything have this instilled in them in childhood, she explains, because they think if they do not obey rules they will be rejected. In a working environment people might think they are lucky to have a job, so it is best to keep their head down and not fuss, she says. “Challenging this type of work programming can take some time, but it can be done.”

Pushing back can particularly hard for freelancers, however, who often take on more than they can handle because of financial uncertainty. “I understand the temptation to say yes to new projects, but if it gets to a point where your existing projects or clients are suffering then it’s time to take stock,” says Burke.

She suggests buddying up with another freelancer or colleague that you trust to help with the workload. “Saying no shows your busy already, which can be a good message to give out,” she says.

Put things into perspective

Changing the way you think about your work situation could help alleviate some of the pressure, says Connell. “Remember the important things in life and do not let yourself get carried away with stresses.” She suggests trying cognitive behavioural therapy and mindfulness techniques. “They cannot resolve the work situation, but instead are aimed at helping you manage how you think about it and how you cope from a personal perspective.”

At times of intense work, it’s more important than ever to look after your physical and emotional self

When you are feeling stressed at work, you should leave this emotional baggage in the office. “Remember it’s just a job. Don’t take it home with you, switch off email and phone alerts when you’re at home and plan some fun stuff outside work,” says Sarah Archer, career coach and co-founder of CareerTree.

Take breaks and relax

Feeling overwhelmed at work can send you into survival mode, which becomes counterproductive. “Stress actually closes off the more creative parts of our cognitive processes and also distorts our perception of time,” says Gary Wood, psychologist, life coach and author.

While it may seem counterintuitive, taking time out to relax during the working day will help lighten a heavy workload. “The temptation is to work without breaks. The reality is that it depletes our resources and we process things more slowly and make more mistakes. The brain likes breaks.”

It is also necessary to look after yourself outside of work. “A lot of my clients, when they get very stressed during busy times at work, start eating junk food and abandoning their exercise regimes. The result is they sleep poorly and feel even worse,” says Burke. “At times of intense work, it’s more important than ever to look after your physical and emotional self.”

Move on

If you have exhausted all your options, and you are still struggling, then it might be worth looking for a new job. “If [a stressful job] doesn’t make you ill it can erode your confidence in your own abilities, which then makes it harder to leave and find another job.”

When looking for a new role, it is worth researching a company’s work culture, so you do not find yourself in the same situation. Sites like Glassdoor survey workplaces, and also ask about management style during job interviews, suggests Archer.

Looking for a job? Browse Guardian Jobs or sign up to Guardian Careers for the latest job vacancies and career advice

Do you ever feel stressed-out with the demands of day-to-day life and your seemingly endless to do list?

These days, it seems that racing from one thing to the next is normal, forever caught up in hyper-alert, fear-based scanning of the environment.

When we are faced with physical emergencies these tendencies can be helpful. We can react without thinking and defend ourselves instinctively against perceived threats to our survival.

However, in modern society, for most of us, most of the time, the threats we face are psychological. We face fears that we escalate in our own minds. We face choice amongst an overwhelming variety of information that competes for our attention. We are overwhelmed with demands on our time, energy, and attention.

In this environment, it is absolutely essential that we develop the ability to filter information and choose our point of focus. In order to survive psychologically, we must consciously manage our time, energy, and attention.

Let’s explore the keys to developing focused attention and how this can help us navigate through the sea of over-stimulation. We’ll use the practice of meditation as an example of how to do develop this skill.

In meditation, you learn that your attention is always on something, though the object of your attention is not always your conscious choice. For example, you may be following a thought, consumed by a feeling or a sensation in your body, off in a memory, or projecting some possible future event and living in that. Your attention is always somewhere.

In meditation, you consciously choose the object of your attention. After you have chosen the object of your attention, whether it is your breath, some focal point in your body, a specific insight for contemplation, or simply the stream of consciousness itself, you maintain your focus on that object. You stay with it. You cultivate a rapt interest in the object of your attention to the exclusion of everything else.

One of the instructions I use for this type of focus in meditation is “Pay attention to your breathing as if nothing else matters at this moment.”

To make your breathing an interesting object for attention, you observe the finest details about it. You feel for the moment when your inhalation arises, you follow it to fullness, you notice where it pauses, where it turns into exhalation, the quality of your out-breath, and the point where that pauses and turns once again into inhalation.

Paying precise attention in that way leads to single-pointed focus. You find yourself at one with what you are doing and solely engaged with that. This quiets and clears your mind, so that you discover calm clarity.

Whenever you notice that you have gone away from your focus, you gently recognize that (without judgment), you let that distraction go, and you return to your focal object. As you continue to do that, you find yourself staying more present with what is happening now.

The benefits of focused attention are many. You actually develop the part of your brain (the anterior cingulate cortex) that is responsible for focused attention. You integrate the various parts of your brain, so that your brain functions as an integrated whole. At the same time, your heart-rate and respiration relaxes, and your body shifts into its natural recovery mode–identified by Dr. Herbert Benson as “the relaxation response.”

Maybe most important of all, you gain a sense of relaxed presence that assists you in whatever you have to do.

From this state of relaxed presence you can more easily filter the overabundance of information around you, so that you can choose what is worthy of your time, energy, and attention.

What a relief that is.

Enjoy your practice!

– By Kevin Schoeninger, Meditation Master
The Mind-Body Training Company

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How to be stress free at work and end overwhelm

What do you do when you feel overwhelmed?

My answer today varies from three years ago, and will probably be different from three years from now.

Three years ago, I would push through my to do list to get past the feelings of overwhelm. I’d work longer hours, not take days off, determined to “get ahead.”

Today, I’m choosing to press pause for a moment and practice a mindfulness tool.

When I’m overwhelmed, I can get pulled in to a place of fear, doubt, frustration, and other challenging emotions that make it even more difficult to focus. Using a mindfulness exercise can help me to take a pause.

How to be stress free at work and end overwhelm

Using the breath as an anchor can help to focus the mind.

Today’s mindful minute is a simple tool to count the breath.

Try it, right now. Whatever you’re doing, take one minute to do this exercise.

Remember that you can always download the slide and save it to your phone (when we’re stressed, we will not naturally remember to be mindful!).

How to be stress free at work and end overwhelm

Today’s mindful minute exercise is a simple tool to count the breath.

Now that you have practiced the tool . . .

What do you notice?

Try to answer without judgement. Whatever you notice is simply what you noticed; it’s not right, wrong, or indifferent.

Can you make a reminder to yourself to do this once a day this week??

For more support in creating a mindfulness habit, text MINDFUL to +1-480-531-9810 for a free, daily mindful minute prompt!

Before you go . . . Yoga Warrior update!

I’m currently in the quarterfinals! Thank you for support in getting me this far! The end is in sight: this Thursday at 7pm PST, I have an opportunity to advance to the semifinals. I need your help to get there.

Here’s how you can help

vote for me with a Facebook account: you can cast a FREE vote daily. The contest ends at the end of April, with a cutoff each Thursday!

additional votes can be donated with 25% of the proceeds going to The Veterans Yoga Project, a 501c nonprofit (today votes are buy one, get one free through 7pm!)

share my voting link with your friends, family, or anyone who may be willing to help!

NEW! You can now sign up for a daily text from me reminding you to vote! Text WARRIOR to +1-480-531-9810.

You can vote every 24 hours, so set an alarm or reminder to optimize your voting potential!

Please consider sharing my voting link with your friends, family, and anyone who may be willing to vote for me.

I need to be in first place on Thursday at 7pm PST to advance to the semifinals!

Thank you for all of your support in getting this far. Over 25,000 people started this competition and now 256 remain!

How to be stress free at work and end overwhelm

What do you do when you feel overwhelmed?

My answer today varies from three years ago, and will probably be different from three years from now.

Three years ago, I would push through my to do list to get past the feelings of overwhelm. I’d work longer hours, not take days off, determined to “get ahead.”

Today, I’m choosing to press pause for a moment and practice a mindfulness tool.

When I’m overwhelmed, I can get pulled in to a place of fear, doubt, frustration, and other challenging emotions that make it even more difficult to focus. Using a mindfulness exercise can help me to take a pause.

How to be stress free at work and end overwhelm

Using the breath as an anchor can help to focus the mind.

Today’s mindful minute is a simple tool to count the breath.

Try it, right now. Whatever you’re doing, take one minute to do this exercise.

Remember that you can always download the slide and save it to your phone (when we’re stressed, we will not naturally remember to be mindful!).

How to be stress free at work and end overwhelm

Today’s mindful minute exercise is a simple tool to count the breath.

Now that you have practiced the tool . . .

What do you notice?

Try to answer without judgement. Whatever you notice is simply what you noticed; it’s not right, wrong, or indifferent.

Can you make a reminder to yourself to do this once a day this week??

For more support in creating a mindfulness habit, text MINDFUL to +1-480-531-9810 for a free, daily mindful minute prompt!

Before you go . . . Yoga Warrior update!

I’m currently in the quarterfinals! Thank you for support in getting me this far! The end is in sight: this Thursday at 7pm PST, I have an opportunity to advance to the semifinals. I need your help to get there.

Here’s how you can help

vote for me with a Facebook account: you can cast a FREE vote daily. The contest ends at the end of April, with a cutoff each Thursday!

additional votes can be donated with 25% of the proceeds going to The Veterans Yoga Project, a 501c nonprofit (today votes are buy one, get one free through 7pm!)

share my voting link with your friends, family, or anyone who may be willing to help!

NEW! You can now sign up for a daily text from me reminding you to vote! Text WARRIOR to +1-480-531-9810.

You can vote every 24 hours, so set an alarm or reminder to optimize your voting potential!

Please consider sharing my voting link with your friends, family, and anyone who may be willing to vote for me.

I need to be in first place on Thursday at 7pm PST to advance to the semifinals!

Thank you for all of your support in getting this far. Over 25,000 people started this competition and now 256 remain!

Do you ever feel stressed-out with the demands of day-to-day life and your seemingly endless to do list?

These days, it seems that racing from one thing to the next is normal, forever caught up in hyper-alert, fear-based scanning of the environment.

When we are faced with physical emergencies these tendencies can be helpful. We can react without thinking and defend ourselves instinctively against perceived threats to our survival.

However, in modern society, for most of us, most of the time, the threats we face are psychological. We face fears that we escalate in our own minds. We face choice amongst an overwhelming variety of information that competes for our attention. We are overwhelmed with demands on our time, energy, and attention.

In this environment, it is absolutely essential that we develop the ability to filter information and choose our point of focus. In order to survive psychologically, we must consciously manage our time, energy, and attention.

Let’s explore the keys to developing focused attention and how this can help us navigate through the sea of over-stimulation. We’ll use the practice of meditation as an example of how to do develop this skill.

In meditation, you learn that your attention is always on something, though the object of your attention is not always your conscious choice. For example, you may be following a thought, consumed by a feeling or a sensation in your body, off in a memory, or projecting some possible future event and living in that. Your attention is always somewhere.

In meditation, you consciously choose the object of your attention. After you have chosen the object of your attention, whether it is your breath, some focal point in your body, a specific insight for contemplation, or simply the stream of consciousness itself, you maintain your focus on that object. You stay with it. You cultivate a rapt interest in the object of your attention to the exclusion of everything else.

One of the instructions I use for this type of focus in meditation is “Pay attention to your breathing as if nothing else matters at this moment.”

To make your breathing an interesting object for attention, you observe the finest details about it. You feel for the moment when your inhalation arises, you follow it to fullness, you notice where it pauses, where it turns into exhalation, the quality of your out-breath, and the point where that pauses and turns once again into inhalation.

Paying precise attention in that way leads to single-pointed focus. You find yourself at one with what you are doing and solely engaged with that. This quiets and clears your mind, so that you discover calm clarity.

Whenever you notice that you have gone away from your focus, you gently recognize that (without judgment), you let that distraction go, and you return to your focal object. As you continue to do that, you find yourself staying more present with what is happening now.

The benefits of focused attention are many. You actually develop the part of your brain (the anterior cingulate cortex) that is responsible for focused attention. You integrate the various parts of your brain, so that your brain functions as an integrated whole. At the same time, your heart-rate and respiration relaxes, and your body shifts into its natural recovery mode–identified by Dr. Herbert Benson as “the relaxation response.”

Maybe most important of all, you gain a sense of relaxed presence that assists you in whatever you have to do.

From this state of relaxed presence you can more easily filter the overabundance of information around you, so that you can choose what is worthy of your time, energy, and attention.

What a relief that is.

Enjoy your practice!

– By Kevin Schoeninger, Meditation Master
The Mind-Body Training Company

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