Tag Happiness at work

Why I Prefer Meditation Over a Nap | Yatin J. Patel

Photo Credit (Dr Kaushik Patel)

Photo Credit (Dr Kaushik Patel)


All my life, I have taken naps to fight off those deadly afternoon lulls. The studies indeed have shown that a 15 minutes nap can give alertness lasting for about 165 minutes. Lately, though, I have been meditating instead for 15 minutes in the afternoon or evening and have been pleased with the energy and alertness provided by meditation.

Why does meditation provide more restoration that a nap? Well, the research by Dr. Richard Davidson (the University of Wisconsin) have shown that meditation results in coherence of theta and beta waves. Such coherence improves the brain functioning, just like an orchestra coming together to play a symphony. This coherence does not occur during a nap since a 15-20 minute nap can not reach the deep sleep (stage 3 or the delta sleep) even if you fall asleep.

Meditation, in addition, results in emotional and spiritual rejuvenation as you focus  on the Divine and relax physically while focusing continually on your respirations.

During the meditation, you also accept your thoughts honestly and openly without passing a judgement. After this, you withdraw your attention into the Divine within. This process leads to emotional and cognitive rejuvenation, which does not happen with the nap.

Meditation improves my sleep at night, whereas a nap certainly longer than 20 minutes or alter than 3 PM can interfere with my night-time sleep.

Studies have also shown that a nap longer than 20 minute may be followed a period of grogginess, while post-meditation, there is no such danger.

But, the most important reason is this. When I tell my wife that I need an afternoon nap, I get a nod of disapproval, but when I tell her I am going to meditate for 20 minutes, I get an instant approval! In her mind, a nap is a sign of laziness (and not of wisdom), while meditation is a sign of the divine dedication.

In conclusion, if you know how to meditate, try it in the afternoon or evening. If you don’t know how to meditate, learn it and use it. You will rejuvenate your afternoons and evenings!

Meditate daily and live multiple days in one.


God Works, I Don’t

Photo Credit Soni Metz

Photo Credit Soni Metz

Dr. VanCuren, a respected obstetrician and my mentor, used to worry about my incessant work. “You are always here, Yatin. You admit from ER. You take care of ICU patients. You work at the cancer center, not to mention the sleep center.” And I used to tell him that I try to follow the teaching of a wise Indian man, who had said 4000 years ago that work is always done by God, but our inflated ego wrongly makes us believe that we are the doer.

He listened to this year after year and then finally one day got irritated and said, “Now, I am not worried about you, but about the God whom you are working to death!”

Joking aside, this is an eternal truth. The sage explained further that every action needs not just you, but also the existence of time, space, people, processes, equipment, and the divinity. So, abolish your ego and let God work for you.

Believe truly that you are just an impartial instrument in the hands of God. When you genuinely believe it, then the fear of failure evaporates. Your goals become big, hairy, and audacious. You won’t stay up at night worrying about your demanding work the next day. You will enthusiastically and confidently look forward to your work. You won’t be looking at the clock all-day next day. Problems will turn into opportunities. Colleagues will become friends and competitors will become team members. Angry customers will turn into your word of mouth marketing champions.

It is a wonderful feeling. Try it. Here is how you can get started. The night before you start your work, say this to yourself, “I am not going to work tomorrow. The God is going to work through me.”

Repeat this sentence to yourself in the morning before you start working. Remember it when working. Repeat it in your mind all-day and see the difference.

Your headaches, neck tightness, and that burning in the stomach will disappear. Your blood pressure will be lower. Your nerves would be calmer. You will emanate peace, joy, optimism, and enthusiasm at your place of work and beyond. And most importantly, you will come home physically, emotionally, and spiritually energized. God has such influence if only you could let God work through you.

10 Tips to Turn Your Work into an All-Inclusive Vacation

Photo Credit: Cecile Graat

Photo Credit: Cecile Graat

Last Sunday, I was flying home exhausted after a tiring, busy, non-stop educational conference in Houston. To make matters worse, because of the rainy, overcast, and stormy weather, we ended up spending 45 minutes in the tiny commuter plane on the runway in Detroit. Finally, we took off around 9:45 PM for South Bend, Indiana, where the weather was equally dreary. My exhausted mind was restless dreading the busy week ahead. After the plane had made the touchdown, the young and cheerful air hostess came on the air, “Welcome to Cancun, Mexico, where the current weather is a sunny 90 degrees with a pleasant breeze from the west!” and everyone started laughing! The cloud in my mind evaporated instantly, and it occurred to me that it was all in our heads. It all depends on how we look at our work.

Studies have indeed shown that it is not the work, not even, the overwork that kills us, but the negative emotions associated with work that kills us. Can we look at our work with the same excitement and joy we look our vacation with? How can we do that? Well, here are my 10 tips to help us turn our work into an all-inclusive vacation.

1. Get Excited. Tell your spouse every Sunday evening, “Hey dear, I am ecstatic, excited, and thrilled that I am going on a 5 day, 4 night, all-inclusive vacation starting tomorrow!”

2. Dress Brightly. Wear the clothes that you wear on vacation; a Hawaiin shirt, a tourist hat, those cool sunglasses, and yes, your hiking shoes. You may have to modify these based on your work requirement, but at least try to dress happily. I see doctors wearing a Disney tie or pair of jeans. They will joke, “I thought it was the Denim Day today!”

3. Take a scenic route to work. My scenic route takes me through an apple orchids, where I can catch a glimpse of a bright sunrise most days. You may say, “Doc, I drive an hour each way in the traffic. I can’t do that.” Well, look at the beautiful sky often as allowed by the traffic and you may find a crescent moon, or clouds with a golden lining, or even better a brilliant sunrise. Listen to the funny talk show on your way to work or to an audio book that is light and refreshing.

4. Dance at Work. You can twist your hips while standing at your desktop, or go crazy in the restroom and do several full-fledged dance moves. And when not dancing, walk with a bounce. Jump when you see something reachable. Whistle as you work. Smile while solving problems. These simple gestures stimulate our brain to release endorphins, morphine-like chemicals that make us feel euphoric and exhilarated.

5. Get Drunk. Really? Sure, go ahead and have your favorite drink just like you would do on vacation; Gin and Tonic, Bloody Mary, Pina Colada, or Mango Margarita. Did I mention the non-alcoholic version? How do you get drunk on virgin Pina Colada? Well, it is the inebriation from our endogenous morphine, the endorphins as mentioned above. Also, that state of drunken euphoria can be replicated without the alcohol with some practice. Try it.

6. Hike at Work. When you run frantically from one patient to the next all-day think of that as an active vacation, as opposed to a leisurely one. Remember the hiking trails in the Grand Teton Mountains that you climbed last summer or that sight-seeing marathon you did in Europe. You felt tired the next day, but you still talk about it with excitement, as opposed to whining about it. Do the same thing about the aches and pains felt at work.

7. Smile at the Grumpy Ones. When you get unpleasant customer or a co-worker, just think of that grouchy person you encountered during your vacations in the past. I am sure you have had your share of them during your vacations. See, work is not that different from a vacation after all!

8. Eat for Free. How can you do that? Well, I can eat for free in the physician lounge. I can have salads, pasta, veggie burger, banana, orange, peanut butter, coffee, iced tea, Diet Coke, and Cookies for free too. Find and use such freebies at your work. If you can’t find such freebies, steal. Just kidding. Worst case, tell your spouse to pack something for you from home, while you do the same for your spouse. Keep the contents a surprise to maximize anticipation and excitement.

9. Work at Your Leisure. It is possible. You just have to look for it and find it. When I get called to see a stable patient, who needs a consult, I shall see the patient at my convenience. I won’t run there right away. Also, I schedule open blocks in my appointment book so that I can take a break from work whenever I want to.

10. Take Siestas at Work. I love taking them during vacation. Well, replace them with a strategically placed power nap of about 10-20 minutes. “I don’t have time for that.” Well, there are times during your vacation too that you have to try hard to find time for a nap. Work is no different.

Did I forget anything? Will you give these tips a try this coming week?

7 Affirmations For a Happy Workweek

Photo Credit: Cécile Graat

Photo Credit: Cécile Graat

Happiness at work increases productivity, reduces errors and improves the quality. It also improves health by reducing workplace stress. And most importantly, it makes life a load of fun. Here are 7 affirmations that will help you maintain a pleasant demeanor this workweek. Happy Workweek.
  1. I am contented with life.
  2. I feel relaxed.
  3. I can face and accept problems, which are difficult to solve.
  4. I am confident I can control my emotions in case of crisis.
  5. I feel confident in facing life’s crises.
  6. I feel sympathetic towards others’ suffering.
  7. I feel happy in helping out others when they have problems.


Eliminate Stress, Enjoy Life. 10 Tips from Prof. Cooper

Work Without Working

Learn to have fun at work.


If you’re stressed, whether by your job or by something more personal, the first step to feeling better is to identify the cause.

The most unhelpful thing you can do is turn to something unhealthy to help you cope, such as smoking or drinking.

“In life, there’s always a solution to a problem,” says Professor Cary Cooper, an occupational health expert at the University of Lancaster. “Not taking control of the situation and doing nothing will only make your problems worse.”

He says the keys to good stress management are building emotional strength, being in control of your situation, having a good social network and adopting a positive outlook.

What you can do

These are Professor Cooper’s top 10 stress-busting techniques:

1. Be active

If you have a stress-related problem, physical activity can get you in the right state of mind to be able to identify the causes of your stress and find a solution. “To deal with stress effectively, you need to feel robust and you need to feel strong mentally. Exercise does that,” says Cooper.

Exercise won’t make your stress disappear, but it will reduce some of the emotional intensity that you’re feeling, clearing your thoughts and enabling you to deal with your problems more calmly.

2. Take control

There’s a solution to any problem. “If you remain passive, thinking, ‘I can’t do anything about my problem’, your stress will get worse,” says Professor Cooper. “That feeling of loss of control is one of the main causes of stress and lack of wellbeing.”

The act of taking control is in itself empowering, and it’s a crucial part of finding a solution that satisfies you and not someone else. Read tips about how to manage your time.

3. Connect with people

A problem shared is a problem halved. A good support network of colleagues, friends and family can ease your work troubles and help you see things in a different way.

“If you don’t connect with people, you won’t have support to turn to when you need help,” says Professor Cooper. The activities we do with friends help us relax and we often have a good laugh with them, which is an excellent stress reliever.

“Talking things through with a friend will also help you find solutions to your problems,” says Professor Cooper.

4. Have some ‘me time’

The UK workforce works the longest hours in Europe. The extra hours in the workplace mean that people aren’t spending enough time doing things that they really enjoy. “We all need to take some time for socialising, relaxation or exercise,” says Professor Cooper.

He recommends setting aside a couple of nights a week for some quality “me time” away from work. “By earmarking those two days, it means you won’t be tempted to work overtime on those days,” he says.

5. Challenge yourself

Setting yourself goals and challenges, whether at work or outside, such as learning a new language or a new sport, helps to build confidence. That in turn will help you deal with stress.

“By constantly challenging yourself you’re being proactive and taking charge of your life,” says Professor Cooper. “By continuing to learn, you become more emotionally resilient as a person. It arms you with knowledge and makes you want to do things rather than be passive, such as watching TV all the time.”

6. Avoid unhealthy habits

Don’t rely on alcohol, smoking and caffeine as your ways of coping. “Men more than women are likely to do this. We call this avoidance behaviour,” says Professor Cooper. “Women are better at seeking support from their social circle.”

Over the long term, these crutches won’t solve your problems. They’ll just create new ones. “It’s like putting your head in the sand,” says Professor Cooper. “It might provide temporary relief, but it won’t make the problems disappear. You need to tackle the cause of your stress.”

7. Do volunteer work

Cooper says evidence shows that people who help others, through activities such as volunteering or community work, become more resilient. “Helping people who are often in situations worse than yours will help you put your problems into perspective,” says Professor Cooper. “The more you give, the more resilient and happy you feel.”

On a more basic level, do someone a favour every day. It can be something as small as helping someone to cross the road or going on a coffee run for colleagues. Favours cost nothing to do, and you’ll feel better.

8. Work smarter, not harder

Good time management means quality work rather than quantity. Our long-hours culture is a well-known cause of workplace illness. “You have to get a work-life balance that suits you,” says Professor Cooper.

Working smarter means prioritising your work, concentrating on the tasks that will make a real difference to your work. “Leave the least important tasks to last,” says Cooper. “Accept that your in-tray will always be full. Don’t expect it to be empty at the end of the day.”

9. Be positive

Look for the positives in life, and things for which you’re grateful. Write down three things at the end of every day which went well or for which you’re grateful.

“People don’t always appreciate what they have,” says Professor Cooper. “Try to be glass half full instead of glass half empty,” he says.

This requires a shift in perspective for those who are more naturally pessimistic.

“It can be done,” he says. “By making a conscious effort you can train yourself to be more positive about life. Problems are often a question of perspective. If you change your perspective, you may see your situation from a more positive point of view.”

10. Accept the things you can’t change

Changing a difficult situation isn’t always possible. If this proves to be the case, recognise and accept things as they are and concentrate on everything that you do have control over.

“If your company is going under and is making redundancies, there’s nothing you can do about it,” says Professor Cooper. “There’s no point fighting it. In such a situation, you need to focus on the things that you can control, such as looking for a new job.”

(From National Health Service, UK)

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