How are you feeling today? Motivated? Or underwhelmed by the prospect of working through your schedule this week?
Our emotions affect our long term well-being. Research shows that experiencing positive emotions in a 3-to-1 ratio with negative ones leads to a tipping point. Beyond which we naturally become more resilient to adversity and better able to achieve things. Mindfulness practices can help us experience more positive feelings about the challenges we are facing. This creates space to become more creative about how we deal with them.
To get you off to a positive start, here are five mindfulness practices to try when work is getting you down.
You don’t have to be an ‘expert’ meditator to try them, and also don’t worry if you have difficulty focussing at first. The aim of these exercises is to start calming your mind from stress and overwhelm into a more open and reflective space; so you can make more informed and proactive decisions about how to tackle the tasks on your list.
Mindfulness isn’t difficult.
We just need to remember to do it.
– Sharon Saltzberg
Try to stop when you notice you’re feeling annoyed or stressed by that huge inbox first thing. Take a moment to acknowledge how you are feeling and observe your thoughts. This will give you some space to proceed more mindfully in your response.
2. Pace Yourself
A variation of the Stop technique. Sit, stand or lie down (whatever works for you and where you are). Get comfortable and focus on taking three deep in and out breaths. This will slow your mind down. Then:
- Position your hands on your heart and belly area. Observe which one moves more when you are breathing.
- Awareness of your body sensations and emotions as you are focussing on your breathing. This will help ground you as you….
- Check-in with your hands and which one is now moving more – the chest or belly? Try breathing into both. First the belly and then the chest. What feels differently?
- Embrace how you feel about the mountain of emails or other work colleagues. Think of one small step that you can take to start dealing with them differently.
List 3 things you are grateful for about your work. Do this every day before switching on your computer or getting started. It could simply be that you have a job, or that it is local to you; or you have your own desk; or you can work from home? Our brains are hardwired to focus on the negative stuff. So by practicing gratitude on a regular basis we change the way we think. This in turn changes the way we respond to challenges we face. Dealing with difficult tasks or people in the workplace is part of life. But it is much easier when we are in a more positive mindset.
4. Loving Kindness
Cultivating a loving kindness practice at work can help you deal with difficult people at work. If you have an annoying colleague or an awkward customer try including them in your practice and see what happens.
- You can start by closing your eyes and thinking of someone you love or care for. Send them a good wishes ‘May you be happy, may you be well, may you be free from suffering’
- Next, expand this to yourself ‘ May I be happy, may I be well, may I be free from suffering’
- Now think of someone you encountered on your way to work – could be someone you know or a complete stranger. ‘May they be happy, may they be well, may they be free from suffering’
- And finally, bring the person (or people!) you are having difficulty with. ‘May they be happy, may they be well, may they be free from suffering’
This practice can be done anywhere and can be extended to your ogranisation, community or globally. Try it – you will feel so good afterwards!
5. Be Curious
Mindfulness practices encourage us to cultivate a ‘beginners mind’ when engaging in any activity. This helps us to be more open and aware of our experiences. Too often we funnel ourselves into a rut of doing the same thing in the same way and get frustrated when we end up with the same outcomes.
Try thinking how you would explain what you are doing to a complete beginner.
What are you doing? Why are you doing it? Why are you doing it that way?
Would you allow someone you are training to suffer stress and overwhelm by these tasks? If not why do you allow yourself to?
Try thinking of one small thing you could do differently if you were starting your job as a complete beginner that could make your life easier.
(Mindfulness) Practice makes perfect
We hope these practices are helpful to you in reducing your stress at work. If you have any tips to share then we would love to hear from you – please let us know in the comments or mail us.