Mindfulness brings your full attention to the present moment, helping you forget about anything that might be causing you stress, bringing you back to a feeling of balance and calm.
If you’re feeling stressed out at work, try this simple mindfulness routine from Virgin’s mindfulness meditation facilitator, to help restore a little calm.
Choose five to 10 minutes that you can dedicate to yourself during the working day, and use this time to take a short walk, to stretch your legs, raise your arms, and move about.
Turn your phone on silent, have a sip of water, and choose a quiet spot - either in the office or outside.
Find a chair or a bench and slide yourself forward on the seat, so you’re sitting tall and opening up your chest and belly. Drop your shoulders down towards the floor and place your feet shoulder-distance apart, leaving a space between your knees.
Rest your hands on your thighs and close your eyes.
Turn your attention to your breathing
Take a few moments to settle in and recognise that you’re taking five to 10 minutes now to relax. And when you’re ready, turn your attention to your breathing.
You don’t need to change how you breathe here - it’s more about noticing each time you inhale and exhale, and consciously following your breath in your mind.
Keeping your eyes gently closed, expand your belly as you inhale through your nose. And at the same time, notice how your ribs and chest are also expanding at this moment.
Now exhale through your nose, and let your whole body go as you relax further.
If you find your attention turning to things you need to get done, a recent conversation, everything you need to do before a meeting or something else, acknowledge that those thoughts have wandered into your mind.
And that’s fine - your mind is always jumping from one thing to the next. Sometimes, you don’t even notice it’s happened.
But being mindfully aware is the perfect way to bring yourself back to the here and now.
It’s you refocusing your attention and creating the mental space you need to become more present.
Turn your attention to the body
Next, place one hand on your lower belly and one on your chest.
Find a comfortable position where your shoulders are down and your elbows are dropped as this makes it easier to hold the position for a little while.
Notice the movement of your breath under your hands as you continue to expand when you breathe in, and relax as you breathe out.
And if any thoughts do pop up, remember to guide yourself back to the present, where you’re focusing on your breathing, releasing your thoughts, being in this very moment.
Stay with the stillness
Bring your hands down to rest on your lap.
Continue with your breathing exercises for a few more cycles, and take a moment to think about how you’re feeling now.
How you’re paying attention to yourself, and how your mind is fully focused on this moment in time.
Then slowly, open your eyes.
Keep focusing on how you feel and your breathing, and start to take in your surroundings, what you see.
Stay with the stillness - this slowed-down, relaxed state you’re in.
And remember that these five to 10 minutes a day are a big part of your self-care routine.
Practising mindfulness exercises can help you relax your mind and minimise the effect that stress has on your body.
Sometimes, work and life stresses may be eased by relaxation exercises.
At other times, you might find that talking to somebody can help you figure out what the bigger cause of your stress is. Our emotional wellbeing specialists offer counselling, psychology, psychotherapy sessions and more to help you cope with chronic stress, so you can get back to feeling your best.