Silence is hard to come by at the best of times, but when you're at work, it can feel like there's a constant chorus of noise distracting you from the job at hand.
Even when no one's talking, there's still the sound of passing cars, your desk mate crunching on hummus chips and the hum of the well-intentioned '90s playlist in the background. Take all of that away and you'd still have the inner workings of the mind coaching (or goading) you towards your next deadline or reminding you of all the super-important things you've forgotten to do.
When you're feeling up against it, all the extra background noise could hamper our ability to conquer a project or ace that spreadsheet. In fact, studies have found that all of this noise pollution we're subjected to could raise our blood pressure and according to the World Health Organisation, it can release extra cortisol, aka the stress hormone, into our systems.
Thing is, the answer isn't actually all that extreme—ask any wellness expert and they'll tell you the key to overcoming a stressful situation or a hard day at work is to take a moment out to recalibrate. And we're not talking a three-hour meditation session either. Further studies have proven that just two minutes of silence every day can calm a mind better than even the most relaxing of music.
Now, we highly doubt you work in a hermetically sealed office with top grade sound-proofing and noise-cancelling headphones are perhaps a little anti-social, so I get if the idea of finding two minutes of true silence in the office just doesn't seem doable.
But we're certain that there are tactics you can employ to find a little bit of headspace none the less. We asked a handful of women who work in high-pressured roles managing large teams how they manage to find a little serenity in their workday. May their advice rub off on you too.
Amy Lawrenson, editorial director at Byrdie UK
"This probably sounds trivial, but before any big meetings, I'll take a moment, spritz my face with mist and breathe deep. I'll then retouch my makeup. It's that little moment of self-care that helps me reset. I don't wear tons of makeup, but I'll tap in a little concealer, dust on some powder, and slick on a lipstick or balm. It gives me a couple of moments to get my thoughts in check, and feel ready to face up to the meeting and any challenges that may arise."
Mary Shiels, global head of PR at ghd
"When I need some time to myself during a hectic day, I leave the office for a few minutes and go for a walk without taking my mobile! The fresh air, change of scenery and time away from technology helps me to breathe deeply and refocus my energy, so that I can return to the office feeling re-energised."
Victoria Buchanan, strategic researcher at The Future Laboratory
"For me, it's often about finding digital silence. I think in our always-on digital era the idea of finding peace and quiet away from the constant stream of information available on my iPhone is important. This might mean putting my phone on airplane mode and going for a walk around the block. It means I'm engaging with my surroundings and letting my mind wander, which helps me be more creative (a must for my job) rather than mindlessly scrolling through Instagram or Twitter."
Hannah McGhee, senior director at Clique UK
"Because my role is varied and I have to be able to flip from one task to another very quickly, taking 15 minutes for myself is really important to keep focus. Fresh air and different scenery can do wonders, and so walking out for lunch each day is my break. I usually go places where I know people. Talking to people outside of your workplace is a good break."
"I also listen to Spotify A LOT! I use it to focus on big projects, huge spreadsheets, lots of data, etc. But also the right playlist can completely break me out of my project headspace, so it can be useful either way. I also have just started using the Headspace app, along with reading, obviously."
Alexia Inge, founder of Cult Beauty
"As you can imagine I have a myriad of tinctures, lotions and potions on my desk, but my most reached-for ‘daily retreat’ is the Therapie Crystal Clear Smelling Salts. I like to channel my inner Victorian with a series of long inhails of these intoxicating salts for an instant recalibration throughout the day. They promote mental optimism, alertness, clarity and courage, and give me an excuse to breathe deeply on a regular basis. The perfect tool to clear my head of that 4pm fog.”