Today's workers are in socially-mandated pressure cookers of tight schedules, increasing demands and dwindling resources, with coworker/boss drama thrown in for flavor. Mindfulness exercises--that is, activities that make you more aware or focused--thus can serve like safety vents that prevent emotional explosions and physical distress

1. Watch your pulse and breathe.

Sit comfortably while wearing a fitness tracker/monitor or using a heart rate app. Look at your heart rate number on the display. Consciously breathe a little more slowly. Deep breathing stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system and, subsequently, tells your brain there's no danger and that your heart doesn't need to work so hard. Concentrating on the number on the display offers visual biofeedback. It also blocks other thoughts or stimuli that could be stressful.

2. Really notice your food.

Obesity in the workplace is a real issue, negatively influencing productivity and costing companies billions of dollars. This circumstance, combined with the fact you need meals, makes eating one of the most consistent and potentially positive mindfulness opportunities you have. Focus not just on the texture and flavor of your food, but also on elements such as what or who was involved in making it, the way it feels to swallow or the size of your bites. Being mindful while eating can keep you from munching too fast, giving your body a chance to recognize and respond to satiety signals and, thereby, contributing to weight management. Avoiding multitasking during a meal also might keep digestion at a more optimal rate

3. Make an ongoing accomplishments list and say "done" with each addition.

You don't need kudos from your boss to feel great: When you force yourself to acknowledge what you've completed, electrical activity in the brain decreases. At the same time, serotonin levels increase, so you feel happier and, psychologically, get a confidence boost. A variation to improve gratitude is to list what others accomplished.

Dozens of science-oriented mindfulness exercises are out there. Use these and others that fit you and change your life!

Published on: Aug 1, 2016