You put in extra hours, nail the project, and the client tells you in a passive-aggressive email that's not what he wanted.
After collecting her Christmas bonus, your star employee takes a job with your biggest competitor.
Even if you love what you do, chances are there are parts of it that stress you out. You're far from alone. According to the American Psychological Association, more than a third of workers are chronically stressed on the job.
But help is on the way. In as little as 30 seconds, this mindfulness hack I've developed will ease your anxiety so you can approach any situation from a place of increased calm, decreased heart rate and deeper awareness.
Companies all over the world are realizing the benefits of mindfulness and using it to decrease stress and increase productivity. But you don't need a full-fledged mindfulness program to start reaping the benefits right away.
When you feel the tension rising, it's time to go to the LAB:
L: Locate the tension in your body.
A: Acknowledge it.
B: Breathe into it.
Let's give it a try. Think of something that's stressing you out right now. A personal conflict, perhaps, or a looming deadline. Call up the strongest negative feeling associated with it.
Here's where the LAB comes in:
Locate the tension in your body.
This will generally show up as tightness. Where do you feel the stress? In your jaw? Chest? Shoulders? Neck?
Zero in on the exact location and explore the physical sensation. Does it feel clenched or constricted? Prickly? Acidic? Does it have a temperature? Get curious about the specific sensations.
This brings you out of your head and connects you back into your body, so you can manage the stressful situation from a more grounded place. By focusing on the physical sensations, you climb down from the mental trigger and can respond deliberately, rather than react automatically.
Acknowledge the area of tension.
Greet it like a good friend coming to your door. Welcome it in. This might seem counterintuitive, since so many of us are used to resisting negative feelings. But we all want to be seen for who we are, and your stress is no different. It's trying to get your attention.
Your body is smart, so if it's reacting to something, there's a good reason. By acknowledging it with compassion, you're working with the feeling, rather than resisting it. You're turning toward it, rather than away from it.
And when you stop going against yourself, you become present for yourself, which puts you in a far healthier place to focus, communicate clearly, and make meaningful decisions.
Breathe into the area of tension.
Now that you've located and acknowledged the stress, take a big breath and then send a slow, deep exhale into that spot of the strongest physical sensation.
Repeat. Each time you send a breath into the area of tension, allow it to soften. With each breath, visualize a comfortable, supportive space opening up to hold the tension. This is the space where your stress will transform.
Maybe there's a solution, or maybe nothing needs to be solved right now. Either way, by breathing slowly and deeply into the physical sensation of your stress and holding supportive space for it, you're dissolving the suffering that comes with resistance.
You're also activating the parasympathetic nervous system, which creates a sense of calm and clarity.
So the next time something stresses you out, Locate the tension in your body, acknowledge it, then breathe into it.
Spend as much or as little time as you'd like on each step. The door to the LAB is always open.