Chris Walling

Five Daily Lifestyle Practices to Reduce Stress and Burnout

By Chris WallingChris Walling

The pressures of a fast-paced corporate environment are inextricably linked to stress, which can have a big influence on your personal and professional life. Whether it’s the weight of achieving monthly sales benchmarks or working to cultivate an abundant client-base, finding avenues to mitigate these stressors of the office should be a top-priority for any working professional.

There has been a tremendous rise in the popularity of yoga and meditation, as 15.9 million Americans are recognizing the benefits of incorporating a mind body practice into their work routines. Forming a healthy balance between the personal and professional begins with establishing an inner-equilibrium, adopting a meditation or yoga practice immediately promotes stress-relief, helps cultivate greater resilience, as well as supporting overall health.

There’s no reason why you shouldn’t look forward to workdays as much as weekends. By employing the five following practices, you can begin to alleviate the daily physical and mental strains that are associated with the business sector and contribute to burnout.

1. Carve out a few minutes for yourself in the morning: Working professionals have become accustomed to the get-up-and-go culture that is synonymous with corporate culture. The day begins with a flurry of alarms, quick swigs of coffee and a hasty shower before it’s off to the office. While many individuals have come to accept these cursory starts to their morning as an unfortunate, but integral part of their workweek, the reality is that rushing out the door sets the tone for a day wrought with tension.

Preserving time upon awakening allows for you to focus on what needs to be accomplished in the hours ahead, and reconcile your daily aims. As soon as your feet hit the floor, begin with some simple isometric stretching, which aids in resolving somatic stress and loosens your limbs. Allot ample time to go about your regular morning routine, which will establish a pacing for the rest of the day. There’s an intrinsic aversion to setting the alarm a bit earlier to earmark extra time, but the immediate payoff throughout the workday far outweighs the 15 minutes or so spent sleeping in. Yogis call this a sadhana, or a daily morning practice, but no matter what you call it, it’s an evidenced based approach to establishing greater balance by consciously creating time in a world where there seems to be so little.

2. Establish a daily intention and write it down: Structure is a key component to attaining balance, so each and every morning should include a definitive intention for the day. After completing your waking stretching routine, set aside a few moments to outline your goal or goals for the day. This process can be as simple as identifying a few objectives for the workday and making a mental note, or composing a list in a planner or notebook. The point is: simply blind-firing your way through the day leads to a lack of motivation and purpose, and can ultimately snowball into fatigue and exhaustion. Your intention can be as simple as, to be helpful to others, or to have more appreciation for your colleagues–but writing it daily allows you to commit to it beyond thinking, and more into doing.

3. Plan your meals: Your diet is fundamentally associated with living a vigorous, corporate-yogic life. Having the foresight to plan meals throughout the workweek as opposed to succumbing to the relative ease of deliveries and drive-thrus instills discipline and provides the appropriate fuel to maintain overall health. Living in a more conscious way and giving your diet the attention it deserves is a central aspect of nurturing your inner-equilibrium.

4. Carve out in-office time to craft a relationship with your breath and silence: As a workforce, we spend far too many minutes reacting to external stimuli as opposed to responding to them. The capacity to switch from a reaction to a response is determined by one’s ability to self-regulate, which is a physiologically-driven factor that can be harnessed with a regular yoga or meditation practice. Three to five times a week you should designate a period in the workplace to establish a relationship with silence and conscious breathe. The ability to create a parasympathetic response in your body is easily triggered mentally and can do worlds for your inner-office.

Shutting your office door or finding an unobtrusive location to spend as little as 11 minutes focusing and reflecting upon a simple thought such as “let go” or “be here now” can provide that ‘centered’ feeling we enjoy on vacation or during the weekend–smack dab in the middle of your workday. If feasible, take this practice a step-further and sign-up for a local yoga class near the office and substitute your typical lunch hour for a 30 minute yoga tune-up series, and a smoothie on the go.

Everyone’s experienced the physiological reactions that accompany stressful situations at work – a racing pulse, sweaty palms and an overwhelming feeling of anxiety. It doesn’t have to be that way. Setting aside time to self-regulate by creating a connection with your breath and silence can allay these physical responses and allow you to become far more objective and productive.

5. End the day with a grateful mind: Before you retire at night, just as you set an intention for your day, you should ration five minutes for conscious, gracious reflection. Identify three things you were grateful for about that day, and write those down. This practice involves the area of constructive self-talk, and cements the positive mindset that you will carry into the following morning. What you focus on you create more of, and by diverting your attention to what worked, chances are you will experience more of the same.

In a time of economic uncertainty and turmoil, business professionals are clamoring for operative ways to achieve an authentic inner-balance. By incorporating these steps you will begin to transform from the inside out, and find that the contrast that was once so stark between work and home are now blended into greater consistency, and by virtue of the corporate yogi that you have become you will find success both within and without. Namaste.

Chris Walling, MBA is a speaker, consultant and former academic medical executive. Chris Walling Consulting is a business and personal consulting firm dedicated to empowering leaders to create innovative, creative solutions to today’s complex and chaotic business environment. Having expertise in both biomedical research and healthcare administration, they help clients leverage their innate resources amidst challenging times and uncertainty.