3 Steps to a Happier & More Productive Work Day

Girl working on a computer at a desk

This week’s blog contributor is our fabulous Yoga Instructor Kelsey Douglas.

We all want that elusive energy, creativity and productiveness throughout our work day, not just after your second (or third?) coffee. Here are a few tools and hacks to supercharge your day and help you to get the most out of your time at work.

“Sitting is the new smoking,” is the new catch-phrase wellness experts are telling us. The VIC Health Ministry says too much sitting can have widespread effects, including heart disease, some cancers and even mental health. Hunching over a keyboard places unnecessary strain on the lumbar spine, over-stretches the mid to upper back, and shortens the chest and hips, leading to headaches, neck, shoulder, and low back pain. So what are we to do when most of us work 8+ hours sitting in front of a computer screen?

Apply these 3 easy steps to help battle mental fatigue, increase blood-flow and take the load off of your delicate discs, nerves and muscles.

Step 1 - Breathe

woman breathing meditation

First, set your body in a way that makes it easy to breath. Slide forward, away from the back of your chair and sit up tall. Stack your shoulders above your hips and pull upward from the crown of your head. Uncross your legs and place both feet flat on the ground. Let your hands fall in your lap. Keep your gaze soft or close your eyes.

Then start to notice your natural breath for a few rounds – natural breath is just that: don’t think about it, don’t try to manipulate it, just let it flow... Sit back and observe, maybe noticing the air as it enters and exists your nostrils, or perhaps where it expands in your body, After checking in, start to draw the air deep into your belly, filling up - belly, ribs and then collarbone and emptying from your collarbone, ribs and then belly. Pausing at the top of each breath and really filling all the way up and emptying each time. Repeating this process for 5-10 breaths and repeating as many times as you need.

Step 2 - Clear Your Mind

Woman yoga mediation

See if you can gently put the external world on hold as you softly focus on coming back to the breath when thoughts arise. Don’t be anxious, stressed or critical of thoughts entering your mind; your mind is a thinking machine. Simply identify the thought and let it drift away. Even a short meditation can work wonders on our body and mind. you can do this for 30 seconds or you can do it for 10 minutes. Just consciously choosing to clear the open tabs in your brain and creating a bit of space for clarity.

Step 3 - Move a Little

Eagle arms yoga

Cat and cow

Cat & Cow are brilliant moves for decompressing the spine and realigning our sitting posture. The cat pose is a gentle backbend and the cow is a forward bend. To start, place your feet flat on the ground, hands on your knees. On an inhale, pull your chest and collarbone forward, letting your spine gently arch (think of the dip in a cow’s back). Lift your gaze slightly upwards. On your exhale, round your spine, drop your chin towards your chest and look downward toward your navel, creating a C-curve with the spine (think of a cat stretching). Repeat this flow for 5 to 10 breaths.

Eagle arms

Cross your arms in front of your torso so that the right arm is above the left, then bend your elbows. Snug the right elbow into the crook of the left, and raise the forearms perpendicular to the floor. The palms of your hands should be facing each other. Hold for 5-10 breaths.

Figure 4 Hip Stretch

Take your left ankle onto your right thigh. On an inhale lengthen and sit tall. Exhale to fold forward, cradling the bent leg and let the head drop down. Stay for 5-10 breaths & repeat on the other side.

Make it a Habit

It can be difficult to remember to stretch or to come back to mindfulness during the day. There are some great apps that can help to remind us when it's time to move. Taking strategic breaks can help make the working time more focused. Building these techniques into your day can help you manage and reduce tension and stress. Medical research continues to demonstrate that a consistent yoga and meditation practice changes your brain for the better even if it's just for a short period each day.

This article was originally published on Prana Warriors