Stress at the Workplace is today considered a part and parcel of modern living! While we generally enjoy our jobs – the other associated factors often make our lives miserable. Longer working hours, sedentary jobs, uncertainty over job security, reduced incentives and greater demands of output from management; have started fueling the downward spiral of your health.
It is important to understand the mechanism of Stress so that we can eliminate its negative effects. The external event (that causes us stress) is simply a ‘trigger’; and it’s only the individual’s internal response to that event that becomes the Stress. In other words we are choosing (generally due to lack of awareness) to get stressed with changes in our life. Having a sanguine, Zen-like demeanor would ensure that we go through the day without getting stressed!
How Stress effects the Body?
Stress is experienced as our Body’s sympathetic nervous system’s “flight or fight” reaction to external events. In ancient times this reaction was our primary defense mechanism and served us well. For instance, when we would come upon a dangerous wild animal in the forest, our sympathetic nervous system would send signals to our adrenal glands and they would enhance adrenaline secretion to give us the boost of energy needed to defend ourselves – by fighting back or running away. However, when triggered in the office, we cannot fight or run away. Instead our bodies become saturated with bio-chemicals like the steroid hormone, cortisol. Without the associated energy-expending response, our own bodies begin tearing themselves apart. Cortisol has been identified as a major contributor to “belly fat” which can promote heart disease, diabetes and lowered self-image.
Unnatural Working conditions:
The human body is designed for movement and not to sit for long hours slumped in a chair. This has ensured that almost everyone experiences a back-ache sometime in their life! That coupled with the high levels of air-conditioning in offices makes the body prone to joint pains; while excessive and continuous use of the computer effects the wrists and eyes. Also, the fact that most of your work is mental and less physical – makes you worry excessively; and without the adequate physical release, stress piles up.
Working longer hours takes time away from our lives that was once spent in activities that reaffirm life, like spending time with the loved ones or enjoying some quite time alone. Even when we are not working, these stressors can still disrupt our lives by invading our sleep. Loss of sleep, in turn, interferes with the body’s cycle of replenishment and regeneration. So you can see, this is a deadly cycle.
What can we do?
Often that question is answered through smoking, alcohol and abusive relationships. But these only further deepen the cycle of witnessing your own demise. Here is where the ancient science of Yoga can help. Developing a regular practice of as little as three hours a week can not only combat the effects of stress, but it can reverse much of the damage already done. Yogasanas (poses) stretch and strengthen the muscles, causing the secretion of beneficial hormones and also the entire body is replenished with a fresh supply of blood. This helps detoxify your body. Through breathing practices called Pranayama, we draw in higher levels of prana (life force energy) and oxygen. This helps purify the subtle channels and nervous system; it expands the lungs’ capacity, and bestows great vitality and strength. By invoking the parasympathetic nervous system we create fertile ground for better rest, a stronger heart and a much calmer mind. Go on and make Yoga an integral part of your life to effectively deal with stress!
For your Yoga routine to be effective you should be able to incorporate the practice in your daily life; especially at your office. Whilst it may seem a challenge at first; you will have to make a habit of getting up from your workstation every 1½ hrs and stretching yourself. The YOGA-for-CORPORATES workshop by TOTAL YOGA has been successfully conducted at DELL, Accenture, Amdocs, BMC and even Marlboro!
- Interlock your fingers, turn your palms outwards and stretch your hands upwards while inhaling. Hold the posture for a few seconds with normal deep breathing.
Cervical pain is experienced because of maintaining the neck in a static posture for unnaturally long periods of time. Too many office-goers are suffering from various stages of cervical spondylitis. Brahma Mudra helps alleviate these pains and enhances the flow of Prana around the Head area so that you feel refreshed.
- From a straight position; exhale and turn your face to the side so that you are looking to the right for 3 breaths and then to the left.
- Inhale and look upwards while holding your breath, then exhale and return to the normal position. Now inhale and drop your chin to your chest, holding the breath. Exhale and return to start position.
Another common complaint of computer users is rounded shoulders; which then shoulder and upper back pains and further causes low levels of energy because the breathing is always shallow.
- Hold one wrist with the other hand behind your back; push your shoulders backwards and chest outwards. Inhale and look slightly upwards; so that the focus of the stretch remains the shoulder area.
You will feel tremendous relief doing this pose!
Sitting Spinal Twist:
Another problem area in a sedentary job is the back. So here’s how you twist open the back.
- With your right hand hold your chair’s left arm-rest (or the left side of your seat). Twist your left shoulder and turn backwards and place your left hand on your chair’s backrest. Now you’re looking over your left shoulder; hold this posture for a few seconds. Then repeat on the other side.
- Stand straight with your feet shoulder width apart. Raise your right hand up and as you exhale, take your hand and your entire torso to the left. Stretch as much as is comfortable; hold for a few seconds. Repeat on the other side.
Hamstrings stretch and Padahastasana:
The sedentary jobs cause hamstrings to tighten; which then cause the lower back to pain as it has to compensate for tight hamstrings.
- Stand straight with feet shoulder width apart. Place your palms on your desk; and take your feet back till your back can now be flat and parallel to the floor. Hold for a few seconds allowing your back to stretch.
- Now take your palms off the table and stretch them towards the floor; allowing your hamstrings to stretch. Hold for a few seconds.
- Once you come up; do the reverse – a backward bend. Place your palms on your hip sand stretch your torso backwards.
Most of your energy is drained through your eyes; so keep them closed for 30 secs.
- Then practice blinking – make 20 rapid blinking movements of the eyes to exercise them. And the, rub your palms together and take the warmth to your eyes (palming).
Sahaj Pranayama – 11 deep breaths
People often start their day with a lot of focus but gradually their energy and focus is dissipated.
- Take the time to re-gather yourself. This is easily done by closing your eyes; and taking 11 deep abdominal breaths – your stomach expands when you breathe in and returns to the normal position when you exhale. You may internally chant ‘So’ as you inhale and ‘Hum’ as you exhale while counting down breaths from 11 to 0. The slower and deeper you breathe; the more calmness and clear-mindedness you will experience.
Hopefully, YOGA-for-CORPORATES exercises will help to strengthen your body and overcome back aches and other such problems; and raise you Energy levels through the day!
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