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UCLA

Calm, Inc.

Exercise, yoga and biofeedback are terrific for dealing with stress. We can embrace serenity in yoga class, at the gym or in a peaceful park. But what about at the office? Here are some relaxing and easy-to-do tips for de-stressing on the job, courtesy of Diana Winston, director of mindfulness education at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior's new Mindful Awareness Research Center (MARC).

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By Diana Winston

Published Jul 1, 2007 8:00 AM


Top of Mind

Still can't settle down? Learn more about getting less stressed and more calm on the job or at home at the MARC Web site here. You'll find mindfulness classes and workshops, downloadable meditations, monthly lectures and other information on how to stay in the moment.

By Diana Winston

Intention is everything.

When I arrive in my office, I set an intention to be mindful and kind throughout the day. I am a big believer in the power of intentions. Even if it doesn't feel like the intention is actually producing immediate results, the setting of the intention is like planting a seed; one day it will result in a fruit.

Try "STOPping."

In our mindfulness classes, I like to teach a very helpful acronym that can remind us to bring mindful awareness into any part of our day. S is for "Stop." Whatever you're doing, take a pause for a moment. T is "Take a Breath." Take a slow, aware breath. This will help calm you down and return to center. O is for "Observe." Notice what's happening in this present moment. What are you feeling? What's happening in your body? Is there anything obvious that you can notice? And P is for "Proceed." Continue with whatever you were doing. This whole practice should take about 15 seconds.

Use technology to help (not overwhelm) you.

So how are you going to remember to "STOP"? Rather than getting angry or frustrated by the overload of e-mail, set an alarm on your computer at half-hour intervals. Every time it goes off, take a mindfulness break. STOP. Stop and close your eyes (or keep them open, as you wish). Take a breath. Notice what you're feeling. Then begin your work again. There are even mindfulness chimes you can download off the Web.

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Photo by Brigitte Sire

Remember that you have a body.

I know that sounds silly, but we often forget that our body exists, especially those of us with computer jobs. Our bodies are doorways into mindfulness, because our bodies are always in the present moment (unlike our minds, which are usually in the past or the future). To reconnect with your body, sink your attention to your feet. Feel your feet on the floor. Then scan up your body, noticing your weight on your chair, the position of your hands. Notice your back against the chair. Relax your shoulders. Try this at least three times a day.

Move with attention.

If you have a more physical job, bring body awareness to your movements. If you are lifting something heavy, notice the weight in your hands, your full body as the posture shifts. Feel your muscles as they work. When you stand up or sit down, try to notice all the body sensations that you can. This will bring you back into your body in the present moment.

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