“Om” your way to success: 5 ways to become an island of calm at your sedentary job

May 26, 2016                 7m read time
Emily Hackeling


Say goodbye to strained eyes and skyrocketing cortisol levels.

We’d really be beating a dead horse if we started babbling about how sitting all day is bad for you—it’s old news. But until someone invents a way to do jumping jacks while writing Javascript, the posture-punishing truth remains: Some work just can’t be done on the move. There’s plenty of easy antidotes for office idleness, though. Instead of shelling out $2,000 for a treadmill desk, here are six realistic six ways to keep your mind and body healthy—even if you’re stuck in a swivel chair.

1. Mind your meditation apps

listening to headphones at a desk bikeriderlondon

listening to headphones at a desk

bikeriderlondon

 

You’re on a tropical island, sunken comfortably in a hammock strung between two palm trees. A light breeze cools your bronzed skin as the sun washes over miles of white beach... You’re either the star of a Sandals Resorts commercial, or you’re participating in a timed deep-thought session with Calm. Slip on the headphones and feel yourself transported far, far away from that annoying co-worker during a guided voiceover meditation, or relax your face and let your eyelids droop while gazing at an immersive nature scene, complete with “blissful” music tracks or sounds like “rain on leaves” or “plains of wheat.” There’s even programs designed to help calm crazy kids, keep road rage in check or be less judgmental. Alternatively, Headspace touts itself as a “gym membership for your mind,” taking a more targeted approach with hundreds of hours of content that can be tailored to suit your specific mood and lifestyle. Co-founded by a trained buddhist monk, this top-ranked app boasts a “myriad” of benefits, from training and eating better to stressing less and focusing more. Ten minutes a day (or even just a session whenever you’re sensing you’re about to become the office maniac) could be key to the new “zen” you.

2. Herb’s the word

essential oils and lavender field Abi Porter and loic lagarde

essential oils and lavender field

Abi Porter and loic lagarde

 

You know how the comforting smell of baking cookies makes you feel 100x happier (and hungrier)? Au-naturale herbal remedies possess the same type of mood-boosting powers, and we’re not just talking about that one herb. A diffuser like this one will get natural oils with calming properties wafting through the air (but make sure you desk neighbors approve). Rose, lavender and chamomile are great options for melting away stress. If your co-workers aren’t down with the aromas, try sipping on a cup of hot water mixed with the essential oils, or just squeeze a few drops under your tongue. Try WishGarden’s Serious Relaxer blend for winding down after super tense days, or their Deep Stress Daily Rescue with ultra-relaxing ingredients like ginseng roots, peppermint leaf and milky oat tops for on-the-go relief of headaches, tension and anxiety.

3. Get right with some writing

Writing marvent

Writing

marvent

 

Before you picture a sixth grade girl scribbling her crush’s name in a diary with a cheap lock (seriously, what is the point of those things?) or a leather-bound set of field notes with Henry Jones, Sr.’s esoteric doodles on the Holy Grail’s whereabouts, it’s time to expand your journaling horizons. Keeping one at your desk and jotting down a to-do list can be very helpful, especially if you try this extra tactic: Consider writing a note next to each item, identifying why it’s stressing you out. Not only could this help clear your head and lead to more self awareness, it’s also been scientifically proven that manually crossing tasks off a physical list is WAY more gratifying than hitting the “delete” button on your keyboard (at least, according to the court of popular opinion at ZOZI). Other options offer a more structured approach with prompts to help organize one’s thoughts, like “I Need To Unplug” or “I’m Kind Of Awesome.” For creative roadblocks, grab one of Johanna Basford’s wildly popular adult coloring books and a box of crayons to keep at your desk. Doing a little doodling might get the genius juices flowing, and your strained eyes will appreciate the break from staring at a computer screen. Warning: Be prepared for sneaky coworkers who might try to steal your crayons in attempts to feel like a nine-year-old again. Coloring can be very addicting.

4. At-your desk yoga moves and stretches

Taylor zozi.com

Taylor

zozi.com

 

Lucky for us, Email Marketing Associate/Yogi Taylor shows us her favorite moves when we’re feeling a little stiff at the desk.

If you’re really serious about getting your corporate “om” on, there’s an entire service dedicated just to that—aptly named Desk Yogi. Enroll in a personal membership or convince your boss to pony up for an enterprise account so the whole office can enjoy it. Employees will get access to a vast library of fitness, de-stressing and relaxation videos taught by professional yogis—all in 3- to 10- minute sessions that won’t totally derail your workday grind. Filter video options to meet your personal needs, whether it’s discovering nutrition tips, mastering acupressure, relieving eye strain, or even practicing discreet “secret” yoga, so that curious coworker two desks won’t harsh your mellow with inquisitive stares.

5. Walk it off

empty desk chairs eflon

empty desk chairs

eflon

 

OK, OK, we’re cheating a bit. But sometimes, your desk is the very source of all stress-related evil. No amount of lumbar support pillows and noise-canceling Bose headphones can make a cramped IKEA desk your “happy place” when you’ve got 40 menacing browser tabs pulled up on a glowing screen six inches from your face. It’s perfectly acceptable to get up, get out and “take the conversation offline” with no one but your inner consciousness—you’ll feel much more refreshed when you do.

Everyone can be a bit of a “workplace Grinch” sometimes. But with these five steps, becoming the “office Ghandi”—or just feeling a little more mindful, more relaxed, and more productive during your workday—is less complicated than you think.

Emily Hackeling

Emily is the production associate at ZOZI. She's a Tar Heel basketball die-hard who enjoys corny jokes, planning trips, and forcing others to taste her cookie experiments. @EmilyHackeling

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