Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Exercising mindfulness in the workplace allows us to experience greater peace while making more sound and emotionally-detached responses.
No matter what you do for a living, you have probably been in situations where a person or team’s behavior stressed you out at work. Likely, you personalized the incident and thought this was happening to you because this person didn’t like you or was out to get you or had made it their sole ambition to make your life miserable.
You found yourself fuming and pacing up & down with a gazillion thoughts racing through your head. A few of you might find yourself plotting revenge; others, sulking or even crying or complaining to a friend/colleague. If you notice closely, your breathing changes. While you suffer in silence with made-up stories pouring through every cell, the person who annoyed you is living their life.
What if I told you that it doesn’t have to be this way? What if I shared the magical nuggets of mindfulness to help you navigate difficult scenarios, coworkers, and bosses, so you can build a bubble around yourself and nothing can shake you up? Sounds too simple and contrived? Hear me out.
Mindfulness is about living in awareness, paying attention to the present moment, and not being judgmental about it. It isn’t about emptying your mind and not thinking about anything;
Mindfulness is about paying attention to your emotions, feelings, and physical sensations in the body. It trains us to become more accepting and receptive to what is.
The other day at work, a client made a massive error where they gave us wrong dates for an upcoming event. It wasn’t the first time. Just a week ago, they had made yet another error with the dates of certain events. Twice inside of a week, I had to secure, apologize, and then let go of speakers. Not everyone could make the new dates. A part of me wondered if the client’s carelessness wasn’t yet over and we’d see yet another set of dates. This meant I had to do the groundwork all over again. Would our speakers assume I was being unprofessional even though the mistake was at the client’s end?
I don’t believe in engaging when I am feeling riled up because it creates, not solves, problems. I walked away from my emails since I didn’t want to type up a reactive response. I strolled in our living room. I took deep breaths. When your exhales are longer than your inhales, it lowers anxiety. I acknowledged my frustration. I held space for myself and what was bothering me. I meditated for 10 minutes. A few moments later, I felt unfettered. My body language as well as my breathing changed.
Research has shown mindfulness is a reliable method for reducing stress, including at work. Our minds are busy; we are always doing something or making assumptions.
Multi-tasking is another productivity myth because it really adds to our stress and takes away from our focus. Think about it! How can you split your attention and complete multiple tasks at the same time?
Just pausing and reflecting had given me a new perspective on the situation-at-hand. Being aware of every breath, every action, every movement, every sensation, every word that you speak or type up, every thought traversing through your mind is mindfulness.
Baby Steps to Accepting Mindfulness at Your Workplace:
Adopting a practice of mindfulness at your workplace takes a little time, and it helps to start with baby steps. In my example, I’ve broken down the baby steps I took to reclaim my center and calm, in hopes that it will help you at your workplace:
1. I allowed myself to feel the frustration and name it.
2. Strolling lowered my angst and gave me a fresh perspective.
3. Meditating for a few minutes got me out of the flight-or-fight mode.
4. Slowing down actually helped me speed up mindful thinking.
5. Breathing deeply and letting go helped center me.
6. I accepted that the client wasn’t making repeated mistakes to annoy me.
7. This error wasn’t about me.
8. I have no idea about the clients’ motivations, so why assume.
9. I also accepted that I can’t change what the client does.
10. I noticed that I had a choice to not react, just respond… and I took it.
11. I acknowledged that a fixed mindset about people’s actions is unproductive.
12. I realized that I needed to focus on the task at hand.
13. I felt grateful that I have a job that allows me to lead a balanced life.
14. No workplace will ever be perfect, so we need to learn to reprogram our minds to think in a healthier way or readjust expectations.
15. Whenever things go awry, consider making a gratitude list.
When I sat down in my seat, I knew what I had to do. I felt focused, flexible, and tranquil. I didn’t feel the need to talk about it with anyone. I reached out to the speakers and explained the situation without criticizing the client.
What started as an inflammable day ended up being a peaceful one. The only one who can do that is YOU. When you practice mindfulness at home or mindfulness in the workplace, you’ll be a better version of you!
Dan Harris, the author of 10 Percent Happier, says, “I think of mindfulness as the ability not to be yanked around by your own emotions. That can have a big impact on how you are in the workplace.”
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