By: Petra Najafee, Registered Psychotherapist

Here’s another simple exercise you can use to manage your stress while you’re at work. Breathe.

Yes, I know, if you’re reading this then you’re breathing. But I am challenging you here to take this a step further. To take a step away from the thought stream that is constantly flowing through your mind, and just focus on your breathing for a few minutes. Chances are, your mind will wander back to your work or your family or whatever it is that is most occupying your thoughts these days. That’s okay. It’s normal. But don’t worry, those things will still be there when you’ve finished this exercise so you don’t need to focus on them right now. When your mind wanders off (as it most likely will), just gently remind yourself to focus on your breathing.

Here’s how it goes:

  • Find a comfortable position in your chair. Try to have your feet planted on the floor and your back supported by the chair back. Rest your hands lightly on your thighs, or the arms of your chair (or even on the computer if you want to make it look like you’re working)
  • Close your eyes if you’re comfortable doing so, or just maintain a loose gaze so that your eyes are open but your gaze is not focused.
  • Next, just notice your breath. You might want to do this by noticing the rise and fall of your belly, or your chest. You might want to do this by noticing the air as it passes in and out through your nostrils. Find what works for you and focus on your breath in that way. Try not to force your breath, just pay attention to it as you breathe naturally.
  • Again, when your mind wanders off, just gently remind yourself to focus once again on your breath.

Try this for 3 minutes or 5 minutes or 10 minutes if you can manage it. When you’ve finished, take a moment to notice how you feel. Hopefully you’re feeling just a bit more relaxed and a bit more ready to face the rest of your day.

openness. nourishment. empowerment.