Managing mental wellbeing at work.

How do you take care of your mental wellbeing at work? A friend of mine has invited me to be a guest on the next episode of her podcast. One of the questions she asked is “what do you wish you knew to maintain your own wellbeing at the beginning of your career?

If you are new to the Grassroots Yoga and Meditation community, you may not know that in a previous life (as I like to call it), I was working in the corporate world. This life had been stressful for me for several years. Back then I didn’t have the awareness that I do now. The awareness that I was permanently living in what we call “the stress response” and the damage it was doing to my health. Nor was I familiar with the tools to manage my mental wellbeing at work. Or in day-to-day life.

But it was a visit to the doctor that changed everything. I distinctly remember him randomly asking to check my blood pressure, which was sky high. He also said I was 10kg overweight. As you can imagine, I didn’t like what I was hearing, nor did I want to go onto the medication that he was prescribing. I sought a second opinion.

A different doctor put me on a blood pressure monitor for 24 hours, to see if there were any ‘fluctuations’ throughout the day. Travelling on the bus to work in the morning, the reading went up and up and up to the point when I arrived at work it was already way above normal. It remained high throughout the day until I returned home in the evening when my blood pressure returned to normal.

This was a real indicator for me that something had to change.

Workplace stress

My high blood pressure was workplace stress related. I had anxiety. The extra weight and not to mention my poor sleep patterns were all a product of the stressful environment in was putting myself through every day.

Interestingly, whilst vinyasa yoga had been part of my fitness routine for about five years, I’d recently begun to practise a different, more holistic system of yoga. In fact, it’s this system of Integral Yoga that Ram and I teach through Grassroots Yoga and Meditation. I truly believe it’s the awareness generated from these practices that gave me the courage to make the change.

My mental and physical health and wellbeing was and remains the most important thing in my life. To cut a long story short. In the end, I chose to leave my career in search of a more balanced life.

Detaching from work stress

In hindsight It’s easy to say “if only I’d know”. But the fact is, I do believe the tools that I’ve learnt as a yoga practitioner, and I now share with others have certainly taught me how to detach myself. Particularly from the levels of stress I was experiencing at work. I now recognise my anxieties. And I sleep a more soundly at night.

Please know these practices are accessible everyone no matter your age, ability or experience. And they will support you to cope better and bring more balance into your life.

Here’s three practices to help you detach and manage your mental wellbeing at work.

1.Regularly practising Yoga Nidra

 Yoga Nidra is the perfect practice when your energy is low. It will re-fill your cup and give you a reset from the intensity of the day.

For many years I have had a recording of Yoga Nidra on my smart phone. When I was first introduced to this practice, at lunchtimes I’d leave the office. I would either lay in the sun or in my car, and I’d listen to a short 20 minute Yoga Nidra practice. This really helped me to detach from the work stress and support my wellbeing.

Yoga Nidra is a deep relaxation that you won’t find anywhere else!

Through Yoga Nidra you learn to fully relax and release any physical and mental tensions, so that you are able to move into the remainder of your day with renewed energy. It’s magic!

I still have recordings on my mobile phone that I listen to almost every day. Yoga Nidra is still THE practice I turn to. Importantly, it is precious time where I am able to connect with myself on a deeper level.

Would you like to have your own practice of yoga Nidra?  Click on this link to access a FREE download.

breathing for stress relief
2. Connecting with your Breath

If you receive our weekly emails or regularly read our blogs, you will have heard Ram and I say this many times… If there is one practice, we recommend anyone to learn, it would be to connect with your breath. It is so powerful.

You learn so much about your current state, physically, mentally and emotionally simply by observing your breath.

If this tool was available to me at the beginning of my career, Yes. Maybe I would have been able to cope better.

Recognising when your breath is changing due to your current environment gives you choices.

You can either step away and remove yourself from the situation. Or use breathing practices to calm your current state and bring you back into the present moment.

If I’d had known these practices, I would’ve been able to recognise the creeping anxiety and changes in my breathing before meetings and when I was about to give a presentation. Or when I was feeling overwhelmed with my workload.

Learning more about the breath and these wonderful practices available to me certainly would’ve helped me sleep better at night.

Awareness of your breath is a practice you can refer to at any time. Try this simple practice:

  • Close your eyes for a moment.
  • Bring your attention to the area of the nostrils.
  • Observe the breath moving in and out of the nostrils for the next couple of minutes.
  • Notice If your breath is shallow and if your breath is fast or slow.
  • When you start to observe the breath, it will naturally slow down and you will start to breath more deeply and you will feel calmer.
3. Learning to meditate.

Meditation and mindfulness practices are proven to be an excellent tool for managing stress, anxiety, and insomnia.

Meditation has been a major pillar in our wellness practices. We would encourage everyone to incorporate mindfulness techniques and a meditation practice into their daily life so that you can develop the ability to be more present.

Despite what you may think, meditation does not require you to switch off or suppress your thoughts. Rather you learn to befriend the mind, distinguish, understand, and almost categorise the different thoughts. “Is it true?” And, “oh! there’s that thought again.”

Generally, thoughts tend to be around past events, or the mind is looking to the future, fantasising the perceived outcome of an event. Something I used to do a lot of in my corporate life. I spent a lot of time in my head thinking about the ‘what if!”

Meditation is about awareness. You are aware that this is happening. And once you are aware you can look at aspects of your life a little deeper, through a different lens, without any attachment. This enables you to make decisions in your life from a place of clarity. Rather than reaction.

To experience the benefits a meditation practice can bring, it is very important to establish regularity of practice. Without regularity, the accumulation of these benefits can be lost.

It’s much more beneficial to meditate for a few minutes a day than thirty minutes once a week.

To help you on your meditation journey, here’s a 10-minute guided meditation practice to bring more calm and peace into your daily life.

It is our hope that these practices will support you in your daily life as they have in ours.