It’s easy to become stressed as a small business owner. Your livelihood, and that of your employees, rests on your shoulders. The weight of that responsibility can easily affect your physical health and emotional wellbeing. According to the Mayo Clinic, stress can contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes, and can causes headaches, fatigue, moodiness, sleeplessness, and social withdrawal.
While some might interpret stress as a bi-product of hard work, these symptoms of stress do not allow you to do your best, and they certainly don’t promote productivity and camaraderie among your employees. While small businesses might not be able to afford fitness centers or relaxation rooms, they can easily carve out time in the work day for stress relief breaks.
Yoga provides a no-cost, accessible activity that benefits everyone in your company. Yoga doesn’t require a change of clothes or any equipment, and it checks the boxes of doctor-recommended stress relievers: physical activity, meditation, connection with others, and laughter, which anyone trying a new pose in front of coworkers is likely to induce.
Yoga can be easily adapted for everybody, no matter their age or ability. There are plenty of rejuvenating poses and sequences available for every fitness level, and seated poses are great for those with injuries or those in wheelchairs. When everyone can participate and no one feels left out, the team benefits from the extra bonding.
“Effective team building means more engaged employees, which is good for company culture and boosting the bottom line.”
Instead of an expensive retreat or happy hour, incorporating a yoga break into the work day can also replace some of the time spent in unproductive gossip and complaining that can occur in unstructured, spontaneous breaks.
The element of mindfulness inherent in yoga has also been proven to make workers happier. Dr. Ronald D. Siegel summarized a study conducted in Taiwan, which discovered that, “the workers who took the mindfulness class reported feeling much better. They had less prolonged fatigue — that feeling of exhaustion that doesn’t go away even after having a chance to rest. They also felt less stressed, reported reduced anxiety and depression, and had fewer sleep difficulties, aches and pains, and problems getting along with others.”
Check out this Mayo Clinic video of yoga specifically aimed at stress relief.
Stop Working to Get More Done
Productivity is about more than checking items off a to-do list. If you’ve been working non-stop with only a break for lunch, you aren’t actually doing your best work. In order to do all of your tasks to the best of your ability, your brain needs to recharge.
When you do a few minutes of yoga, the increased oxygen from physical activity and breathing exercises gives your brain a boost. To get a little more scientific, exercise also increases your brain-derived neurotrophic factor, or BDNF. According to John J. Ratey, Ph.D., BDNF is “like fertilizer for the brain…Without it, our brains can’t take in new information or make new cells.” In short, yoga gets your juices flowing.
A Little Goes a Long Way
Yoga doesn’t require a major time commitment. Just one pose makes a huge difference. According to Office Meet Yoga, lying on the floor with the legs extended straight up for a few minutes, “gently stretches the backs of the legs (that get tight from sitting), can relieve mild backache, boosts the blood circulation toward the upper body and calms the mind.” So maybe instead of brainstorming around a conference room table, you should change up your perspective and stretch your minds and bodies at the same time!
“Sitting at my computer for hours makes my back feel great. Said no one ever.” – OfficeMeetYoga.com
Wellness is Worth the Investment
When it comes down to it, money talks. Healthier employees take fewer sick days, get more work done, and save the company money. And people who are happy at work stay longer, helping employee retention. Johnson & Johnson has been investing in health and exercise programs for its employees for decades and has seen a return of $2.71 for every dollar spent.
Even small businesses that don’t have enough money to invest in a specific program can incorporate yoga into the work day for little or no cost. A quick Google search will direct you to numerous free websites and YouTube channels offering short, stress relieving practices. All you need is a screen and the internet to get started.
Making your employees’ physical health and emotional wellbeing a priority encourages hard work and productivity in your workplace. Implementing a little time each day to reduce stress affords everyone a better life in and out of the office.
Yoga Wisdom at Work by Maren Showkeir