Three Relaxation and Mindfulness Exercises You Can Easily Integrate Into Your Workplace to Boost Well-Being and Effectiveness
Sherry, a VP in a large retail organization was highly capable but quickly became emotional and upset when confronted with missed project dates and when disagreements arose. Both her relationships and job performance suffered.
Her team was afraid to question or address problems for fear she would become upset. The CEO questioned her competence and judgment. Her opinions about what was best for the company were often overridden if they were even voiced at all.
Once Sherry learned some simple tools she could use at any time – even in the middle of important meetings or phone calls – that allowed her to stop, breathe and become more mindful, she was able to think with end goals in mind and respond, rather than react, in ways that were more purposeful, less reactive and ultimately more aligned with the company’s vision and objectives.
These practices were taught not just to Sherry, but to her direct reports and through each level of the organization.
As a result, the time focused on important projects, tasks and meetings began to increase dramatically. Project time and costs decreased. Employees were more engaged, more energized and more productive than ever before as stagnation, unproductive behaviors and bottlenecks began to disintegrate. Job satisfaction and productivity both increased.
And it all began with learning a few simple tools that helped people to stop and take a few mindful breaths.
Imagine this level of awareness, effectiveness and laser precision embedded into every layer of your organization.
How would the environment, engagement, and stress levels at your workplace be affected – and how might efficiency and effectiveness of your team change as a result?
Dr. Carol Gaffney, Executive Coach, Psychologist, speaker and author and originator of Behavioral Intelligence® at Work®, has been helping individuals and businesses integrate relaxation and mindfulness practices into their lives and workplaces for more than 30 years. The practices are just one piece of the 5 step STARR process developed for improving Behavioral Intelligence defined as “Doing What’s Right to get the Right Things Done™.” The ultimate results of Behavioral Intelligence are more productive, successful, effective teams.
“Over the years, I have learned that we cannot be effective and successful in our actions and results unless we can first Stop and take a step back to interrupt unproductive thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Once we are able to do this, we then have the space to think strategically about desired end results and to respond intentionally toward our goals rather than react through habits,” says Dr. Gaffney. “Mindfulness, relaxation and meditation are simple ways to begin the Stop and Step Back step in order to build highly aware, highly effective individuals and teams.”
The good news is how easy it is to begin building breathing and mindfulness strategies into your workplace and life.
Below is a sampling of 3 simple and concrete tools from the newly released Relaxation, Meditation and Mindfulness Companion book that you can integrate into your workplace today in order to interrupt stress and to allow yourself and your team the space to Stop, Step back, and Think and Respond strategically.
Each exercise takes less than two minutes to complete and can be used at almost any time: at the beginning of a meeting, while you’re on hold on the telephone, or whenever you notice unproductive thoughts, feelings and behaviors, just to name a few examples.
Why not try one right now?
1. Cleansing Breath:
There are many ways of using the breath – a deep one time cleansing breath can work whenever you want it.
- Breathe out completely, gently pushing the breath out and getting as much air out as possible.
- When you think you are completely done, breathe out with 3 or 4 more short breaths, then release and let yourself inhale spontaneously. Let your lungs fill with fresh air.
- Notice the sounds, the feelings, the smell and the taste of breath.
2. Countdown Breathing:
Another way of using breath for relaxation is a 10 to 1 or a 5 to 1 countdown.
- Breathing naturally or abdominally, count backwards to the number one and say the numbers to yourself on the out-breath. Try a countdown now starting with 5. Go ahead and breathe in. As you breathe out, say “5”.
- Breathe in again… and as you breathe out say “4”.
- Breathe in again… and as you breathe out say “3”.
- Breathe in… and out… “2”…
- Breathe in… and out… “1”…
- If you find your mind wandering (which often happens), simply return your attention to your out-breath and pick up with whatever number you would like and continue to count backwards to one.
3. Coffee Break:
Instead of reaching for caffeine during breaks, why not energize your body with a mid-morning mindfulness routine?
- Reach up above you with your arms and hands and imagine that you are picking bunches of grapes that are just on the edge of your reach. Move slowly and deliberately in a comfortable way. Open and close your hands as your fingers close around the grapes above you. You might feel your waist and hips moving as each hand reaches to grab its delicate treasure. Move this way for several breaths.
- Now with your arms out in front of you, reach for the grapes in front of you. Be careful and gentle as your fingers go around them. Reach like a cat, feeling energy moving through your arms and out into your hands to your fingertips. Notice each muscle from your shoulders to your fingers as they gently work together.
- Coordinate your breathing with your movement. Listen to breath entering and leaving, fueling your movements, energizing your body from your head to your toes.
- With your arms extended to your sides, reach to each side alternately as you pick the grapes on either side of you.
- Continue until you feel alert and energized.
- Finish by taking a full complete breath. Shake your body gently and experience renewed energy.
Matthew Gagliano, Area Director and Owner of Fitness Together locations in New England, has begun integrating breathing and meditation practices into his clients’ fitness routines by including a copy of the pocket-sized books within each of his new client packets.
“The breathing techniques [in the book] correspond with reduction in the parasympathetic nervous system and reducing stress,” says Matthew. “Even a few minutes of focused breathing has benefits.”
Ron Price, Founder and CEO of Price Associates, calls The Relaxation, Meditation and Mindfulness Companion “a passport to peace.”
Pocket-sized and separated into short, easily digestible chunks, the book is designed such that you can bring it with you anywhere and keep it in a pocket or purse as an easy reminder to Stop, Slow Down, Breathe and Think. The Companion is a great gift for a team, your clients, your family, or to slip into holiday cards. What better gift to give than the gift of relaxation: to be mindful and in the moment.
To order copies of The Relaxation, Meditation and Mindfulness Companion for your team, your clients, or yourself, contact Sharon Brooks at firstname.lastname@example.org with “Relaxation, Meditation and Mindfulness Companion” in the subject line.
For a free mini-relaxation audio tool that you can download and listen to at any time, sign up here.