This Mental Illness Awareness Week we’re looking at the best ways to eliminate stress at work. Glorify app’s Natalie Braithwaite explains three ways to recentre, stay calm and focus on Jesus while on the job.
Hybrid working might be here to stay, but for those returning to the office, it can be a stressful time. Most Christians find negotiating a balance between faith and work difficult, and I’m sure we’ve all had times when our faith has been tested at the workplace.
I used to work in corporate occupational health and can testify first hand that finding space for Jesus (or anything that feels remotely spiritual) in that sort of environment is often difficult. I loved it, but it was stressful. There were long hours. It was fast-paced. I had to work HARD just to feel like I was keeping up. Being honest, Jesus was mainly reserved for a quick moment on the way into work and, sometimes, a quick (exhausted) bedtime prayer at the end of the day. The work space was pretty much dead space for my spiritual life.
Perhaps you feel similarly. I don’t know what your “work space” looks like. Maybe you work remotely. Perhaps you are in the office every day. Your work space may be a construction site or a hospital, a shop-floor or a restaurant. Whatever it is, you’ve probably realised at some point that living with a 24/7 mindfulness of Jesus (and the joy and peace that comes from his presence) in these spaces often feels difficult, if not impossible.
What we do in the physical impacts what happens in the spiritual.
As part of Glorify’s Body Series, we have been exploring the central role that the physical body has to play in our spiritual lives. Put simply, what we do in the physical impacts what happens in the spiritual. This is a foundational theological principle.
Here are three ways you can mindfully release stress at work to help you be present with Jesus for more of your working day.
Moments of Meditation
“I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways.” Psalm 119:15.
Building in a habit of mindful, meditative moments in your working day can have a powerful impact on your stress and anxiety levels. Isaiah 26:3 says, “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” Meditation helps us to refocus and recalibrate our scattered minds and bring them to a place of steadfastness, stayed once again on God. The fruit of this, scripture tells us, is peace.
Doing something as simple as this a couple of times during your working day can transform your experience of the day. It’s not that God has gone anywhere while you work. It’s just a method to remind yourself that he is with you. Why not give it a try!
Scripture consistently equates breath with life. God’s breath gives us both physical and spiritual life. This foundational principle is something that we can practically channel to help us manage better at work, especially when work feels a little… lifeless.
Breath-work, which comprises exercises that help you to intentionally regulate your breathing and focus on healthy breathing patterns, is a key to transforming our physiology in any situation (however stressful!). It is a powerful antidote to daily stress and is part of God’s created design for us.
When we are intentional with our breath, it tells our brains that we are in a calm and safe space and that it is ok to switch into “recovery” mode. Our breathing can literally help us to regain peace and find life again within our hectic working days.
A desk-stretch routine
”Deskercise” is an increasingly popular activity, and so it should be. Research shows that poor posture, repetitive motion and staying in the same position can cause or worsen a whole number of health conditions. Many jobs today are not kind to our bodies and so, if we are to put Paul’s encouragement above into practice and honour God with our bodies (in every way), then we need to consider how mindful movements and stretch routines might help to keep us healthy, active and a testament to God’s goodness.
The good news is that you do not need to wait until you get home from work (or away from your laptop) to start your stretch routines. Moving and stretching are buildable habits (just like meditation and breath-work). You can plan, set reminders and undertake these exercises within your work environment. Even if you can’t get away from your desk to stretch out a little, there are certain things you can do right where you sit! Mindful movement is an effective way to remain present and comfortable within your working environment.
Don’t forget to check out the Glorify Body Content that will practically walk you through some more of this journey.