Staring at a computer screen’s got a long way to go before its peace-inducing qualities rank up there with staring absent mindedly out the window. But, with a few tools and techniques up our sleeve, we can get nearly the same mind-calming nirvana when we’re working at our desk. No, seriously.
But we need to address the stress response in our body. Essentially, the big difference between window- and computer-gazing is how we feel when we’re doing it. Same goes for any activity that stresses us out at work and makes us crave a vacation; it’s the feeling we want: the freedom from anxiety and worry.
If we work from the premise that stress is mostly a result of our internal state, rather than what’s going on around us, we come to the conclusion that if we change what’s going on inside us, our experience of the stuff that’s going on around us changes. We can face the same stressor with far less stress.
The Biggest, Best Tool for Stress Prevention and Relief Here’s the secret every yogi knows: our breath is the best tool we have. It calms us. It energizes us. It connects our body and our mind. Here’s the best part about it: we can use this powerful tool anytime, anywhere—even at the office.
Try this next time you feel more like throwing your computer out the window, and less like daydreaming.
Best Breath • On an inhale, bring your attention and intention to your belly. Let it get big and round (elastic waist pants, or even an undone waistband! work best). • Carry that inhale into your torso, expanding three-dimensionally in your rib cage: out to the sides, and in front and back (bring your hands to your sides if you like; sometimes this helps us learn to control the area). • Keep inhaling up to your chest, until it lifts. • Enjoy the pause, the moment of peace, between each inhale and exhale. • On your exhale, let your chest drop, draw your rib cage together, and your belly button right up against your spine. • Pause. • Release your tummy muscles, and then begin again.
Best part about it: you can keep working as you do it, getting calm and focused as you stay productive.
Why it Works Sleep research scientist and yoga teacher Dr. Roger Cole says that 8 major activating systems get on the go when we feel stressed. They combine forces to do three things: increase brain activity; tense up our muscles; and rally support—from the circulatory and respiratory systems. So when we counteract the shortened, rapid, shallow breath that happens when we feel stress (let’s face it: almost every minute we’re at work) we counteract some of the activation, and calm ourselves down.