Mindfulness in the Workplace

Such interesting times we live in: the work culture continues to evolve and change, the mentalities of the staff are constantly altering, and it is becoming harder to keep up. Everyone is hustling, whether it’s to progress their careers or to be a better version of themselves. Ethical lines are being blurred as the journey becomes more of a rat race. No one seems to slow down because what seems to be a trend now may be gone within a week, so timing is everything. With this constant mayhem how does one take a step back and actually see the consequence of their actions? How do you continue to differentiate between right and wrong? How do you measure your ability to maintain a level head and stay afloat?

Welcome to the practice of mindfulness. The dictionary defines it as “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations”. It is the idea of being conscious of your actions, and understanding that everything you do or say can have an impact on yourself and those around you, whether that is in your personal life or professional. Social media is riddled with ways to practice this awareness in your personal life. Many of these methods are intangible and consist of inapplicable quotes designed on Canva, and very few inspire a behavioral change or a reaction. My goal for you today is to give you some proven tools that can set you on a more mindful path and alter how you perceive your workplace.

Identifying the Changes

It does not surprise me when I hear people say that they did not see the stress creep in. Many times this happens gradually, shifting our habits over a long period of time, and before you know it – you’re knee deep in corporate drama. To avoid this, it’s important to start identifying any new patterns that may have emerged.

Start keeping a journal and make good use of your calendar.

Start keeping a journal and make good use of your calendar. I like to do a quick check-in with myself every night before bed where I look back at what I ate throughout the day, my mood, productivity, tiredness, motivation levels, screen times, and so much more. Small shifts back and forth are natural, but if you notice a drastic change over time, it can be a cause for concern.

Tip: Listen to those around you, they may start identifying the changes in your behavior before you notice them.

Figuring out the “Why”

This can be tough – many of us are conditioned to justify or “make excuses” for behavioral changes and, hence, fail to determine the real reasons. I’ve done it myself; at one point my sleep time went down to four hours a night, and instead of figuring out why, I blamed it on external factors like street noise. It was only when I forced myself to dig deep that I realized that it related to my three-cups-a-day coffee habit, which was new and tied to low morale at work. I was using coffee as an artificial motivator, and as a result, negatively impacting my health. Some common “whys” that emerge from this exercise are: issues at home, poor leadership in your team, minimum work-life balance, lack of appropriate compensation, and so much more.

Tip: Once you’ve figured out the why, don’t use this as negative fuel to add to your stress. Instead, swiftly move on to the next step.

Making the Shift

I’ll be honest with you, this is usually the hardest part, but also the part that is the most important. When it comes to workplace behaviors a lot of us say that we cannot change because the actual work environment is beyond our control, but that is only partially true. At the end of the day, how we act is entirely our choice.

  • Those who know me have heard me talk about this next word ample of times – Empathy. It becomes a lot easier to understand the actions of others if you start putting yourself in their shoes. It starts to cultivate humility, and also allows you to determine how your own deeds can impact others, whether they’re your peers or clients.
  • Another way to be mindful is to understand your own limitations; focus on completing one task at a time, slow down to increase your level of focus, and don’t be afraid to delegate or establish realistic deadlines.
  • I mentioned the use of journaling and maintaining a calendar earlier, this becomes useful now as well. Set reminders for yourself to do things that you may otherwise forget – drinking water, taking a mental break, lunch. This makes you more aware of your actions and is synonymous with self-care.
Photo by Perry Grone on Unsplash

All these actions can also be quite contagious – once you start making these changes, others in the workplace notice and can shift as well. You cannot control management styles, but your change in attitude may open a door to kinder, conscious gestures.

Mindfulness comes with practice and patience, so don’t feel rushed during this process. Sometimes the result of this practice is the realization that the current workplace is not the one for you – and that’s okay. Alternatively, it might highlight areas where you can improve and subsequently give you the motivation to do so. In both cases, accept the change and trust that as the times evolve, we must too.

Interested in learning more? Contact me!

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