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In the Middle of a Stressful Workday? Use These Three Mental Breaks Tips to Hit the Reset Button

by | Leadership

Fulfilling a leadership position comes with a lot of responsibility. As rewarding as the work can be, it can also be the source of much of your daily stress. While some days pass without incident, others are full of pressure, deadlines, and corporate demands. During the most strenuous times, how do you usually cope? For most people, the answer is simply to grin and bear it. But there are more effective ways to calm your mind and shift your perspective. Although you can’t abandon your duties or clock out when the going gets tough, you can benefit from a quick mental escape. Here are three mental break tips to help you reset during stressful workdays.

1. Deep Breathing Practices

Although our bodies are responsible for maintaining our involuntary breathing patterns, breathing purposefully can help melt away your stress. As leaders, we spend our days so focused on our work goals and managing our teams that we rarely stop to think about relieving our built-up stress. Even worse, when we feel anxious, frazzled, or overwhelmed, our breathing becomes more shallow, increasing the effects of stress on our bodies. To remedy the problem and make way for a more peaceful demeanor, try breathing deeply.

Here are a few useful techniques:

4-7-8 Breathing

Breath Focus

Belly Breathing

Bhramari Pranayama

2. Take a Walk

Sitting at your desk for hours on end isn’t good for your body, or your brain. Movement, fresh air and sunshine can do wonders for your mental health. Fresh air increases the flow of oxygen to your brain, improving your ability to focus. Sunlight can boost your energy levels, and movement can increase the production of endorphins. 

Even short walks can make a big difference. Schedule some time during your work day to step outside and stretch your legs. Be intentional about practicing mindfulness while on your walk. Take advantage of the sights, sounds, and sensations that you don’t have a chance to experience while you are working. Listen to the sounds that surround you. Notice the flowers and the faces of the people you see along your route. Feel the wind against your skin. Make a mental note of the things you are grateful for. Let your walk be an escape from the stress of the day, and commit to returning to your desk with a renewed mindset. 

3. Listen to Music

Music is therapeutic. Not only can it provide stress relief and relaxation, listening to music can improve your mood and cognitive function. During a long work day, these combined benefits can help increase your productivity and improve your interpersonal skills, which will help you be a more effective leader for your team. 

During your breaks, try listening to music that has a slower tempo. Let go of your biggest worries and let the instruments lull you into a state of serenity. You can even try mixing in instrumental tracks that are paired with nature sounds like running water, chirping birds, or thunder. If you need an instant calming effect while stuck at your desk, create a playlist that can be played at a low volume in the background. 

Your company and team members deserve a leader who can provide a shining example of how to navigate rough terrain with a leveled-head approach. You have the power to prove that taxing moments don’t have to lead to stressful days. So interrupt the cycle with these three mental break tips and learn how to regain control of your workday.  

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