This tip is part of our "Productivity at Work" series and is provided by Tom Von Deck, corporate meditation trainer, speaker, and author with DeeperMeditation.net.
Stress is cumulative, and so is peace. According to the American Institute of Stress, American workplaces pay $300 billion for the stress that employees accumulate. For this reason, some companies actively encourage activities that accumulate peace. It is rumored that Apple has a meditation room in its Cupertino headquarters, and each employee can use 2.5 hours per week for silent contemplation, stretching, or prayer in their afternoon wellness breaks.
What is not a rumor is that Tribe Inc, a company that designs employee engagement programs for corporate clients, also has a meditation room plus an ice hockey rink for its own employees. Each employee can slip out of the office for healthy activities at any time until they reach a grand total of three "wellness hours" for the week. Some employees follow along with guided meditation CDs, and others play hockey or take a stroll along the riverbank.
I have had the privilege of interviewing Tribe's president, Jennifer Bull, and two employees. Each of them were very enthusiastic when telling me about the effects of this policy on their energy levels, absence rates, and overall productivity. In fact, I've never experienced a higher level of employee morale at any workplace, or so it seemed when speaking to them.
Create Your Own Wellness Breaks
Your company may not have such policies. In such a case, it is recommended that you make your own wellness breaks. Stretch breaks can be great peace accumulators. You can use the down times of your day for this or commit to at least 30 seconds out of each hour. Try some head rolls and shoulder rolls. Shake out the tension in your joints. Bend over, touch your toes, and stretch the hamstrings. This will anchor you in your body and in the present moment. Keep a momentum in your stretch breaks, and you will notice profound results in your sense of peace and productivity.
Maybe you don't want to be the freak who gets up and starts stretching every hour. There are less conspicuous things you can do in your wellness breaks. Simple chair stretches are good for this. The simple act of giving thanks for all the blessings in your life is another way to accumulate peace. Some people naturally close their eyes and take a few deep breaths once in a while. The possibilities are endless when designing your regimen of wellness breaks and stretch breaks at work.
Here's your challenge. Make a list of activities, both conspicuous and subtle, that are grounding, relaxing, and centering. Include some stretching exercises and physical activities in this list. Create a system of wellness and stretch breaks at work that last between 30 seconds and 5 minutes a piece. Try it for 30 days, then write down the difference you feel in energy levels, productivity, and the amount of times you feel like calling in sick. You'll be surprised by the power of these brief intermissions, as they add up to huge results.
Tom Von Deck is an international corporate meditation trainer, speaker, and author of Oceanic Mind - The Deeper Meditation Training Course. Tom specializes in making meditation a much easier process for busy people and a more customized process for people of all religious backgrounds, lifestyles, and temperaments. One of the methods he employs to make meditation easier is to take stretch breaks at work because it works. Learn more about Tom at DeeperMeditation.net.
Flickr image from lululemon athletica