Feeling stressed at work? Try these simple meditation techniques right at your desk

It’s easy to feel overly stimulated, anxious or even sapped of all energy in a busy and stressful workplace environment. You may not consider meditation to be an available option to you when you’re at the office, but a quick five-minute respite from the constant barrage can do you good, even if it doesn’t involve comfortable clothes and a burning candle. “The idea of meditation is to bring the frazzle of the mind to a standstill. The aim is to switch on the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for restoration and rejuvenation. A consistent practice of taking out five minutes, or what we call the micro-meditative pauses, can not only lift a dull mood, but might even be able to prevent burnout,” says meditative dance healer, Sumisha Shankar. She confirms that if done right, it won’t put you to sleep or mellow you out. Instead, you’ll feel energised and ready to take on your next task with a clear mind. “Meditation does not mean stopping, redirecting or manifesting thoughts. Instead, it is just about resting your mind and being an observer to your thoughts,” explains Jhelum Biswas Bose, a former beauty editor and founder of Jhelum Loves, who works with flowers and essential oils as a healing mechanism. We asked Shankar, Bose, and Bangalore-based yoga teacher and author of Beyond Asanas, Pragya Bhatt, for their quick fixes on dealing with stress at the office.

1. Simply breathe in and out

“Scan your body from head to toe (while seated) to connect back to your body. Close your eyes for one minute and observe your thoughts—don’t change them,” says Bhatt. She suggests inhaling and exhaling to the same count, forcing each breath to get longer and steadier. This simple mindfulness practice can help clear brain fog and calm anxiety, so make sure to do it when you’re feeling overwhelming or stressed.

2. Reach for essential oils

Inhaling something calming is the best way to reach a meditative state. “It could be as simple as taking a deep breath and inhaling the smell of the essential oils out of the bottle, or rubbing a drop on your wrist and back of your ears,” says Bose. “Lavender oil is an excellent option to promptly bring down the stress levels and get clarity. Sandalwood and neroli oils are not just refreshing to smell, but if you take a conscious whiff, they can also calm you down. Reach out for the spice-based oils (cardamom, clove, black pepper) when you feel uneasy,” she says. Keep an essential oil liquid, diffuser or rollerball in your desk-side drawer for best results.

3. Bring out a colouring book

Colouring helps the subconscious mind to express itself. It gives it a direct access to drive the strain out, clearing brain fog and prolonging focus and concentration in the process,” says Shankar. She suggests keeping a drawing book and a box of crayons in your desk drawer, and just doodling or colouring it for a few minutes whenever you are stressed.

4. Plug in

Listen to white noise, relaxing sounds (like that of the sea or the chirping of birds), or even your favourite song as you try to look inwards. “Listening to the sound of Indian classical instruments like the bansuri, sitar, tabla and vocal ragas helps lower blood pressure. The rhythmic loops are used extensively in music therapy to calm the nervous system too,” explains Shankar.

5. Work on visualisation

If you feel blocked and unable to create your best work, Bhatt shares a quick visualisation yogic trick to activate your third eye. Though it works best when you are lying down and totally relaxed, it also works to give a break from digital distractions. “Rub your palms to generate heat and cover your eyes. Visualise a bright blazing sun at your Ajna chakra (centre of forehead) and imagine it giving you warmth and light,” she recommends.

The article was first published in Vogue


  • Aparrna Gupta

    Transitioning from crafting stories for The Asian Age and Bombay Times to setting beauty trends in Verve, Aparrna Gupta’s journey has always revolved around resonant storytelling. Her prowess in content creation is unparalleled, with articles featured in renowned publications like Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, L’Officiel India, Lifestyle Asia, Elle, and Femina. She also excels in content ideation, trend identification, mood board creation, and product styling. Her expertise has proven invaluable to homegrown brands, enabling them to authentically connect with their audience.

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