Americans are worried about their jobs. Last month The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the U.S. economy lost 159,000 jobs last month -- the highest one-month job loss in more than five years and the ninth straight month of consecutive job losses. And, today, New York City's Comptroller announced that New York City alone will lose an estimated 165,000 jobs in 2 years -- much of it due to Wall Street's recent woes. Amidst the very real fear that what is here today may be gone tomorrow, many Americans are working harder than ever before. Sadly, their skyrocketing stress levels may have the opposite impact that they intend.
As the founder of Balancing the Executive Life, New York City's premier stress reduction and self-healing programs for overworked entrepreneurs and executives, I have seen the lives of top executives transformed by simple exercises that anyone can do in just a few minutes a day.
Here's how it works. Stress causes poor breathing and poor breathing increases susceptibility to stress -- setting the stage for emotional difficulties, a breakdown of bodily systems, illness and more. More often than not, the answers lie within. Along with simple breathing exercises, one can use the science of sacred sound (mantra or NAAM) to reset and balance the autonomous nervous system so that the rest/relaxation (parasympathetic) response becomes stronger. Finally, by understanding and harnessing the power in your hands through the application of mudras, you can access, stimulate and heal every part of the body and brain.
Here are my top six on-the-job stress reduction tips that utilize these simple techniques.
1. Silence the Inner Critic
What is the soundtrack on your personal iPod? What are your 50,000 thoughts a day telling you? If they are saying things that do not serve you stop them in their tracks. Use the Middle pillar mudra (hands in front of your solar plexus, palms facing each other, approx. 6 inches between your hands). Inhale, hold your breath and silently repeat "I am" 8 times. Exhale as slowly as you can. Hold your breath out and silently repeat "I am" 8 times. Repeat the cycle 3-11 times. This exercise cuts negative thinking, increases confidence and neutrality bringing you laser sharp focus, clarity and receptivity.
2. Conquer Your Anger
When you feel anger rising -- cool yourself down with a yoga breathing method called Sitali pranayama. Simply inhale through your mouth as slowly as you can, then exhale through your nose as slowly as you can. Do this for up to 5 minutes, or until you feel cooled down. Sitali, which literally means to "cool" works like an air conditioner on an overheated system -- reducing anger, reducing toxic heat in the body, boosting the immune system and facilitating receptivity and enhancing communication -- all by taking a person out of defense mode. When done correctly, this breathing exercise can help transmute anger into its antithesis -- creativity.
3. Conquer Your Racing Mind
Is your mind is racing with all the things you need to accomplish making it difficult to focus on the task at hand? If so, try another breathing exercise in combination with the Gyan mudra. Put your hands resting on your knees with your palms facing up. Bring the tips of your thumb and index fingertips touching on each hand with palms up. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your nose. Next, inhale through your mouth and exhale through your mouth. Then, inhale through your nose, and exhale through your mouth. Finally, inhale through your mouth and exhale through your nose. Repeat the cycle three times, or for 1-3 minutes make each inhale and exhale as long and slow as possible. This exercise balances the autonomous nervous system fostering clear, neutral thinking.
4. Conquer Insomnia
Put on some relaxing music while you use a breathing exercise that works wonders for insomnia, or left nostril breathing. Block your right nostril with your right thumb, inhale through the left nostril. Block your left nostril with your right pinky and exhale through your right nostril. Repeat inhaling through your left and exhaling through the right. Continue for 3 minutes. This exercise boosts the water energy in your system - calming and slowing everything down.
5. Conquer Job Burnout
Burnout is a catch-all phrase that refers to symptoms of prolonged stress i.e. memory loss, inability to focus, exhaustion, obsessive worrying. Use the sacred seed sound RAMA practiced in NAAM Yoga and meditation to recharge.
Visualize yellow all around you. Place your hands on your heart. Inhale and chant RAMA. Roll the R and accent and elongate the vowels as you vibrate the sound current. Repeat 3-11 times.
A consistent practice of this exercise (40 - 120 days) will help to enhance memory and cognition. Sacred sound balances the nervous system and strengthen the electro-magnetic field.
6. Reduce Your Overall Stress On the Job
Since stress causes poor breathing and poor breathing increases susceptibility to stress, mastering your breathing can do wonders to help your overall stress on the job.
The average man breaths 16-18 times a minute; the average woman breathes 18-20 times a minute. Because breathing directly impacts your mind, mastering your breathing permits you to control your state of mind.
The slower your breathing, the better. Take a moment three times a day to note how many times you breathe per minute. If it's more than 8 times per minute, you'll vastly increase your ability to deal with stress by slowing it down.
Inhale for five counts, hold for five counts and exhale for five counts. Repeat the cycle for 11 times. With practice you will be able to inhale for 20 counts, hold for 20 counts and exhale for 20 counts. Added benefits include: added clarity, cool-headedness and a whole new level of alertness.