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5 Ways to Relax at Work

On August 24, 2011, in Coaching, Everyday Life, by Blake Alexander Hammerton

Zen and relaxation at work

I don’t know about anyone else, but it feels to me like it’s getting harder and harder to relax these days. The stress of life can be pretty overwhelming.  Especially the daily grind of work. Hell, they don’t call it the daily grind for no reason, right? Many of us simply wind up, and come home exhausted, frazzled, and unfocused. Sometimes we come home to a family that we immediately neglect or pick fights with… or they come home and pick fights with us!  Any time you get the chance to relax and get centered at work, take it – it’s time well spent.

I’ve included 5 ways to find a little peace and relaxation at work. These are simple, yet effective, activities you can do without going out of your way and potentially causing you more grief. Check them out, and comment on what works best for you!

Get Up & Get Out!

No, seriously, get up from your desk and walk out for a break. It’s long been said that sometimes you have to walk away from a problem and come back before you can solve it. Many of us get so focused on the minute-to-minute stress of our immediate surroundings, that simply getting away from it for a few minutes can break us free. A brisk walk or some other form of exercise while on that break is even better. Even a few minutes of exercise releases endorphins – helping to elevate your energy and your mood almost instantly!

Tune in to turn on the calm.

Studies have shown music to help with concentration and stress-reduction. Having some of your favorite tunes playing in the background of your days is very powerful in reducing your stress. My own personal advice is to use a service like Pandora or for your music, because it offers far fewer ads than standard FM or AM radio, and the musical variety is completely custom tailored to your tastes. Relaxing music like classical is better for your brain (rather than death metal) because it lowers blood pressure and reduces Cortisol – a hormone linked to stress and weight gain.

I often have clients take a break during their day and go out to their car and spend 5 minutes listening to music they can sing to… loudly. Singing and laughing are very similar in the chemical reactions they cause in the brain. If you can find 5 minutes to sing in your car, take them. They’re powerful minutes!

Breathe Deeply.

Buddhist monks have been using mindful breathing techniques in their meditation for centuries. Stop for a minute during your day and practice some simple breathing.  Sit up in your chair, feet flat on the floor, hands resting on your lap, and begin breathing. Notice the sensation of fresh, clean, rejuvenating air entering your body, filling your lungs. With each exhale, feel the sensation of stress, anxiety, and worry leaving your body. Notice your breath – and only your breath. Concentrate on the pattern of life, calm, centered, focus breathing in, and anxiety, worry, stress exhaling and leaving your body. Do this for one minute each hour.

CalmDown for Mac in the App StoreAn additional tool is a Mac App called CalmDown. CalmDown sets up little activities for you to get centered and calm when you need it.  It sits in your upper menu bar and is ready when you are. If you select “Calm Down” your screen will fade to white and encourage you to breathe deeply.  Other options have more elaborate, yet simple, activities to help you relax. It’s only $.99 in the App Store, and while it’s common sense, this little reminder is a pretty valuable deal at only $1.


Let’s be honest, we could all use a life-line from time to time. When we’re feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or wound up, one of the greatest things we can do is vent. The next time you’re feeling those familiar feelings, take a break and phone a friend, coach, parent, therapist – whatever!

A word of caution: This can be treacherous to relationships if both parties are not clear on the rules.  Venting involves just letting everything come out – no need for the other person to “fix” anything – only to listen and offer support.  Both parties should lay out rules so one person doesn’t feel like he or she is being “dumped on” by the other person all the time. Venting is healthy when there’s a time limit and reciprocity.


“Can I just vent to you for 5 minutes?”

“Sure, but then I could 5 minutes too.”


Change Your Layout.

I’m a strong believer in  Feng Shui – the art of arranging objects in a space to create harmony and balance in the energy of that space. If you have the luxury of changing your work space colors and arrangement, go for it.  Bright colors and wood tones balance energy and spark creativity. Stay organized by introducing colorful pen holders, stapler, and stationary. If there’s a way to bring in natural light, bring in as much as you can.

Working in a plain cubicle in a nondescript office building can be a hard space to modify, but every little bit counts. To help, I’ve included some beautiful images to help you. Download them and make one a background this week, one a background next week, one a ba– you get the idea. Keep on the lookout for more inspiring images for use on your home, office, or home-office monitor!

Calm water at sunset helps keep you calm.

Click image for full-size!


Rocks on Water - Calm Path to Wellness

Click image for full-size!

What do you do to relieve stress or find peace at work?  Share in the comments below!

Who is the Best Version of You?

On August 5, 2011, in Coaching, Everyday Life, by Blake Alexander Hammerton

Best Taco courtesy of Kate Leth (


This week I want to talk about the “best version of yourself” you can be. Moreover, I want to talk about the meaning of that famous phrase. It’s touted in self-help books and seminars across the globe, but do you really know what it’s all about?

What the phrase means to instruct is that you identify your greatest qualities and accentuate them as often as possible – embody those qualities so you operate from your most powerful or resourceful place.

I want to give a few tools to help you figure out what that means for you, and what you can do today to start living the best version of yourself.

1 – Listen.

No, really, listen. The greatest version of all of us – individually and collectively – listens at a much better level.  Many people feel their best when they connect with another person through powerful conversation, or simply being a shoulder to cry on. Do you have a friend you can tell anything to? It feels pretty good to confide in someone and have your voice heard, right? Well, return the favor. Listen to the world around you, and let the voices be heard. You’ll grow more than words can say the day you start truly listening.

2 – Have an open mind.

Close mindedness is a sure-fire way to cut off opportunities, relationships, and great experiences.  Open it up… wide!

3 – Ask for what you want.

Truly, one of the most powerful attributes one can possess is the ability to articulate what one wants. When you go to a restaurant you don’t simply stare at the server hoping you get what you want, do you? No, you ask for what you want. Life is no different. Start asking!

4 – Respond instead of React.

This is a big one. Take a moment to pause before reacting to something that you may find upsetting. Instead of jumping into the negativity, discover within yourself whether it matters or not. Many, many people react negatively to situations that don’t matter 30 minutes later. They find themselves all worked up for no reason. When you respond instead of react, you give yourself permission to be in control of your emotions and your circumstances. Try it!

5 – Take on new perspectives.

Try looking at a situation from someone else’s shoes.  This is the sister to the “have an open mind” point.  Sometimes our chosen perspective causes us to assume things that simply don’t apply.  Remember your truth may not be the truth… and not necessarily someone else’s truth.

6 – Ask the future you for advice.

Whenever you feel stuck, ask yourself what the “you” one year from now would say about it. What would 2012 Lauren say to you today?  The same can also be said about what advice you’d give yourself if you could speak to the 2010 version of yourself. What piece of advice would you share with the Steve from last year? You will be amazed what comes out of your mouth when you answer a few questions from each perspective.

7 – Connect with giants.

David Ogilvy of Ogilvy & Mather (arguably the largest advertising firm in the world) sends a care package whenever someone new is appointed to run one of their global offices. Inside this package is a Russian Nesting Doll. Inside the innermost doll is a little rolled-up hand-written note. It reads, “if each of us hires people who are bigger than we are, we shall become a company of giants.”

Surround yourself with those that make you feel the greatest. Play in groups of people that are bigger than you – that you can learn from – that encourage you to be the best you can be.

Remember, the best version of yourself has a vision and is driven by purpose. The best version of you knows what he or she is fighting for. If you need help discovering what that might be for you, don’t hesitate to contact me. It’s never too late to discover what makes you happy, and what makes you feel alive!


P.S.  Be the best taco you can be! 

How do you know you’re living the best version of yourself?  Share in the comments below!

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