Do I Really Need Support? Challenges of the Work & Corporate Climate
Sometimes we forget, or simply become acclimatised to the stresses that we experience at work. Yoga helps remind you of your more more natural, human, relaxed (remember that feeling?) self.
A busy lifestyle in a modern urban or corporate environment can be a nightmare for the subtle physiology of the body, and equally in turn, your mind, emotions and lifestyle. Here we look at some of the challenges, and wellness advice for the workplace that can help.
Highly stressed workplace environments take their toll. Whether fast-paced and over-adrenalising or relatively sedentary and desk-oriented, the circumstances combine to stress the body particularly when combined with long hours in front of a screen (which irritates the hypothalamus of the brain).
This strain is further amplified by a 24/7 communication culture, with texts, emails, and calls arriving at all times making it easy to lose perspective of a healthy work-life balance and to lose connection with natural rhythms of activity and rest.
Effect on your Mind
All this activity lends itself to an over-busy mind, due to the over-activity of the nervous system, often still processing information long after work has finished, a sense of inner frustration and feeling of being locked into a Mental Hamster wheel that it’s very difficult to climb out of.
And you know what happens when you are stuck in your mind? You lose track of all the good bits of life that are actually going on around you, which, of course, you need to experience through your senses.
Yoga and Meditation help to relax the nervous system and tangibly influence your brain wave pattern so instead of being ‘lost’ in thought – through excessive left brain activity, you actually become more attuned again to a sense of feeling ‘present’ on a sensory level.
Diet and Nutrition
In a rush to get to work? (because you are still tired from yesterday?) What happens is your adrenals activate in the morning to get you moving, which naturally decreases your digestive deficiency – when the body enters fight or flight one of the first things that happens is that the less essential systems in that moment start to shut down. So you will keep breathing, but your digestive secretions decrease, effecting the bodies ability to digest food and appetite decreases. Your diaphragm also contracts in the overstimulated state, which also contracts the intestines in the abdomen. Not a good scene for your digestion.
This also lends itself to the stimulant culture – you don’t really feel like you can Stomach a decent breakfast so instead grab a coffee and often a sugary snack. Result – peaks and troughs of alertness, mood and blood sugar as the body tries to balance back out. Not forgetting the acidic effect on the body from the side effects of being over-adrenalised (it promotes cortisol secretions in the brain), the resulting proliferation of bad bacteria in the digestive tract which can promote candida and halitosis, and the lack of micro-nutrients in your body.
Lunch – eating at your desk? This is generally very poor for your posture and we don’t even really pay attention to what we are eating, let alone chew and digest our food efficiently. But also where are you sitting? In amongst the humdrum of photocopiers, the electromagnetic static of PC’s, lack of natural light and perhaps even worse, the absence of human interaction.
Sitting and eating together and spending time with our fellow beings is often cultivated with much greater ease centred around eating together. But since you are overstimulated from work then you are also often hit with the double whammy that even if you do escape the office, you feel like being alone. Denying you precious social time.
So eating breakfast is essential, preferably a low glycemic option such as porridge, and make a conscious choice to eat away from your desk at lunch, preferably with company and get exposed to daylight!
Family, Relationships, Intimacy
These become compromised in many ways through stress. On a purely physical level, when stress increases libido decreases as there are other things that our body-mind are trying to deal with. But time is the killer! Often our work time practically eats into our family time but even if it doesn’t literally impinge into your time at home, then the tiredness you carry with you often does – making you sharp with partners and children, or if you are single, compromising the time available to find a partner! And it’s a bit of a mood killer when you fall asleep exhausted when your partner wishes to connect.
Yoga and meditation amplify the bodies relaxation response which makes you resource much more quickly – they say that 20mins of deep relaxation can have a similar regenerative effect of 8hrs of sleep, so try and get these practices into your routine!
The office environment by its very nature isn’t ideal for a human being. Often sedentary, it compromises the function of particular organs which need movement to function at maximum efficiency.
On an emotional level, this can create frustration (see below) but also of course over a longer period of time there can be physical and musculo-skeletal imbalances which begin to manifest. Some muscle groups tend to become redundant, while others greatly stressed.
Yoga helps to counteract these postural strains on the body
The images below are taken from a recent collaboration I did with Euroffice looked at the benefits of workplace yoga – you can check out the full article here.
Dispersing Negative Emotions
The office environment is not generally ideal for giving time and space to disperse negativity and pent up emotions as it doesn’t allow the time and space to do so. In addition an unfortunate consequence of long hours, and often commute, is that the time for replenishment and rejuvenation is then also naturally curtailed. Work stress wouldn’t be so bad if we then had the outlets of expression and support built into the rest of our lives to compensate. But often there aren’t enough hours in the day, week or month for that which means we carry on with an internal powder-keg of unexpressed emotions inside of us.
Yoga, meditation and therapies help to disperse aggregated emotions – through the palpation of organs and soft tissue which associate to particular emotions. We generally have awareness of notions such as that the Lungs are where grief is stored, but indeed, each organ – and associated connective tissue in the body corresponds to different emotions. For example anger resides within the Liver and Gall Bladder, Fear in the Kidneys and Bladder, Worry in the Spleen and Stomach (we also often identify that our ‘Stomach is in Knots’) and Sadness in the Heart.
The techniques we can integrate into workplace wellness sessions are great at connecting people above and beyond their ‘role’ and place in the hierarchy. At the end of the day, we are all human beings and recognition and mutual respect of that creates a feel good factor. We often forget this within the office hierarchy.
Sometimes, you do need to break the mould a little and let people be seen, if only for an hour a week or so!
Try and meet colleagues outside of your environment, and even better, do a shared activity together where the hierarchical duress isn’t relevant.
Accelerated Learning and Work Efficiency
I have worked alongside experts in accelerated learning techniques such as Tanya Moore and taught on their amplified learning workshops. Have you ever noticed that when you are super-busy, you just sometimes can’t receive new information? Your brainwave pattern is too amplified to be receptive.
Exercises, such as yoga which co-ordinate both sides of your brain and activate a relaxation response make the body and mind much more receptive to new input. When we are faced with a hectic schedule our appetite and time for nourishing ourself in this way becomes depleted.
Please note the reference to making the Body AND Mind more receptive — we learn a great deal through the transmission of energy and information as it hits our body and is absorbed into our nervous system — and if you are tense or stressed, this is significantly compromised.
Yoga is identified as an integral part of ‘Superlearning’, as defined by Education expert Ostrander. By practicing yoga, it enables a state of mind which is much more receptive to learning and new information.
Superlearning is a form of holistic education; it involves body and mind working in harmony. It’s based on the idea that the mind is able to learn faster and more easily when the body is running at a more efficient level. Ostrander, 1971
You might work in a lovely glass office block, but the bad news is that the spectral rays of light you need in order to balance brain chemistry unfortunately don’t pass through glass, and thus never reach the retina to positively influence our brain chemistry and notify the brain that it’s daytime! This effects our circadium rhythm. It also makes it even more important to get yourself outside at lunchtime and get some light, particularly in the winter!
Air Conditioning and Electro-magnetic Stagnation
Natural, ‘Fresh’ Air contains within it a proliferation of negative ion particles, which despite their names are actually good for us. As soon as these negatively charged ions come into contact with pollutants, or air conditioning their healthy fresh ‘negative’ charge turns positive, reducing our sense of vitality. Electrical devices also contribute to this phenomena, so being in an office is bad news in this respect!
On a subtle level, our body also is at home in a natural environment. There is a micro-vibration inherent in all living matter – so it’s in plants and animals as well as humans – so when we are out in nature we feel at home and can relax. Fast forward to an office full of electrical equipment and it has a very discordant feel to the body, makes us sluggish and irritable.
Nature is designed to maintain balance. Business is designed to get you ahead – this is inherently stressful! Generally speaking the planet has been doing fine in maintaining equilibrium and homeostasis in the growth and decay cycle. Nature pushes into growth, matures and then recycles into decay to recreate again. As part of this cycle it creates food and resources for it’s inhabitants. Fast forward to a city, your currency of survival isn’t the Vegetation outside your door, it’s money. Without it your chances of survival are compromised. Not to mention your job being compromised if you don’t create enough of it within your work role!
Your Inner Voice and Passions
Busy. Often busy all the way through University and into your job, following the well trodden path into adult life. But is this the life you are meant to lead? Maybe it is, but sometimes it’s nagging at the back of the mind that there is something else out there for you, but you’ve never had the space to engage with those thoughts, that part of you seeking answers. Yoga helps give you that space as it calms the mind. This can be a subtle degree of stress, but stress nonetheless!
So folks, if that doesn’t have you banging on your HR managers door then I don’t know what will!
Check out my corporate wellness offering here.
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