Don't worry, this article is SFW. At the young age of 23, I found myself lying in a hospital bed diagnosed with a stress-related illness and wondering how I'd gotten there. At that time I was a full-time master's student, working 60 hours a week between three jobs, dealing with an emotional breakup and trying to figure out a solid career plan. Stereotypical millennial? Maybe so. But, needless to say, I was experiencing chronic burnout and as a counseling major, I was seeking any way to make myself whole again.
Enter the "S" word: spirituality. During a counseling session, my therapist recommended that I try meditation. I laughed. "Does this woman know how anxious I already am? I can barely sit still for two seconds!" Alongside many life changes, her suggestion encouraged me to explore the path of living each day from the inside out, living from my Authentic Self. It has been this path of spirituality, or as Mastin Kipp describes it, "the measure of how loving you are," that has changed all aspects of my life for the better.
We typically spend the majority of our lives in a work environment, and with the ubiquity of technology, there are more demands on our time and attention than ever before. After holding entry to director level positions at various companies, I began to notice an intriguing trend; the alarming rate of burnout in the workplace. In today's world, especially within Western societies, we have learned to function at such a high-level of stress that we often do not notice its negative effect until it is too late.
Thankfully, times are changing. People are waking up to the fact that we cannot function on minimal sleep and still be productive. More and more, we are hearing of how traditionally spiritual techniques like meditation benefit everyone from the average employee to public figures like Deepak Chopra, Lebron James, Oprah Winfrey, Jerry Seinfeld, Katy Perry, and many more.
For these reasons, I am providing the following five simple techniques to help you bring spirituality into your life and into to the workplace.
1. Have more honest conversations.
After having the privilege of working with hundreds of people and studying human behavior, I have come to the conclusion that everyone wants the same thing out of life: to be heard and to be loved. Get to know the people you work with beyond the surface by letting your guard down.
Try this: When you get to work, instead of jumping straight to your inbox, ask a coworker to walk with you to get a drink, and watch the conversation unfold naturally. Or, if you and your coworkers work remotely, build morale by hosting a brief weekly virtual meetup with your team where your sole purpose is to catch up. Deep down we're all here to feel connected.
2. Find time to meditate and take mental breaks throughout the day.
Studies show that meditation gives you more time, brain power, energy, focus and creativity to help fuel your day.
Try this: Find a comfortable place (e.g., conference room, enclosed office, car, park, or even the bathroom), close your eyes, take a couple of deep relaxing breaths, and tune into your quiet mind within. When thoughts pop up, simply notice them and gently tune back into your breathing. Continue sitting quietly until you're ready to open your eyes again. Begin with 30 seconds of quieting the mind and then eventually build up to one minute, then five minutes, and before you know it, you'll be craving this time to settle your thoughts again.
3. Create a daily pivot point to balance out your work and personal life.
A pivot point helps you to turn off your always on, always working brain by shifting to a relaxing, non-technology related activity.
Try this: When you get home, instead of turning on the TV or going straight to your laptop to finish up an email, go for a brisk walk, have a dance party with your kids, engage in adult coloring, or take 5-20 minutes to meditate. The options are endless so see what works best for you and your family, and get creative.
4. Learn how to stay positive.
Have you ever sent an email that you immediately regretted? You are not alone. It can be easy to get caught up in the moment and to react from a triggered place.
Try this: When you notice yourself becoming irritable with a client, colleague or yourself, stop what you're doing and try one of these breathing techniques. If this doesn't work for you, stand up and go for a quick lap around your office or home space and drink some water. Another tip is to write your initial email response to get the negative energy out, give it a few minutes, and then go back and rewrite it from a calmer, more clear perspective.
5. Remember you are more than your job title.
Some people over-identify with their job title so much that they lose themselves in the process. Your value is intrinsic and comes from within. What do you secretly think about yourself? Is your self-talk negative, critical and judgmental? Or, are you uplifting, encouraging, and compassionate with yourself?
Try this: Write out 5-10 positive "I Am" affirmations and place these by your desk. For example, "I am strong, creative, and deserve to be valued for my gifts." Read this everyday before you begin your work, and anytime that self-doubt creeps into your consciousness.
Above all, treat your life as the experiment that it is and start where you are. Your final task is to simply bring you... your beautiful Authentic Self, to your work each and every day, and to watch the magic of your life unfold from this vantage point. This is what spirituality is all about. It is about waking up to who we really are and bringing that energy back into the world. I leave you with this:
And every day, the world will drag you by the hand, yelling, "This is important! And this is important! And this is important! You need to worry about this! And this! And this!"
And each day, it's up to you to yank your hand back, put it on your heart and say, "No. This is what's important." -- Iain Thomas
Peace and love,
HuffPost's GPS for the Soul app is based on two truths about human beings. First: We all have a centered place of wisdom, harmony and balance within us. Second: We're all going to veer away from that place, again and again and again. What we need is a great course-correcting mechanism -- a GPS for the Soul -- to help us find our way back to that centered place, from which everything is possible.
Because no one knows better than you what helps you de-stress and tap into that place of peace inside yourself, it's important for you to create your very own GPS guide -- a personalized collection of whatever helps you course-correct. Email us at GPS@huffingtonpost.com and we'll set you up with your very own HuffPost blogger account to share your guide on the site. If you're already a blogger, we encourage you to upload your personal guide today. We can't wait to see what you have to share.