Stretching the City Mindfulness Meditation teacher and Wellbeing Coach, Laila Datoo shares her solutions for a less stressful working day.
Times are changing. With research showing that 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health illness every year, employers are paying more attention to stress levels in the workplace and their role in improving this.
This year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is testament to that – with businesses across the UK running awareness days and offering a broad range of activities from corporate yoga, Pilates, massage, 1:1 coaching and wellbeing workshops.
So why mindfulness when there are so many other ways to manage stress? I believe mindfulness is the most powerful, effective long-term solution and the ideal antidote to a stressful workplace.
We live in changing times. And with change comes uncertainty, pressure and tension. As the world moves even faster around us, how do you find your calm and stability and manage your stress so that work stays a pleasure, not a pain?
The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has identified six main areas that can lead to work-related stress if they are not managed properly. These are: Demands, control, support, relationships, role and change.
Mindfulness when it is developed as a daily habit, can help us to approach these areas with a more empowered, calm and positive outlook. Let’s look at where mindfulness can really benefit you when faced with a stressful situation…
This may be struggling to cope with the demands of the job or difficult demands from clients.
Solution: How can you become more aware of your triggers when faced with unrealistic demands? What physical and emotional symptoms come up for you?
Take note of them and then notice when these start to happen, and explore a coping technique that can support you in the moment. This can be a quick walk and fresh air out of the office, taking 3 deep breaths or communicating to your manager that you need support.
Magical Mindful moment:
Demands will always be there – some immediate and some on the horizon. We are responsible for managing the demands we place on ourselves and it is key here to be kind to ourselves and recognise what we are capable of. Some ways to do this are:
- Know your optimum working time – Do you tackle financials better in the morning? Are you more creative at the end of the day? Plan your work accordingly (and let your manager/ peers know) so that you work to the best of your own ability.
- Factor in buffer time so that you can respond to urgent demands if needed- a tip is to plan 75% of your schedule and leave 25% of the day for unexpected work.
Some employees feel that they are unable to control the way they do their work. So, try to be present and disciplined to your top tasks. It may not be possible to dictate all of your working day although a good manager will empower you to do your best work in your own way.
A powerful mindful awareness is to build in times in your day when you are present to the task in front of you. It is totally feasible to negotiate working windows – blocks of time where you can work in the best way for you (switching off email, changing the space in which you work, putting in headphones to concentrate…) and if you can make a good case of the benefits and results of this, it is highly likely you will be given free reign.
Magical Mindful moment:
- Set your boundaries – Know what you want
- Write down what your ideal is and then what your minimum is and go from there – aim for somewhere in the middle!
We often think we left the playground behind at school, but the workplace can be rife with bullying and difficult relationships. So how do we navigate them as an adult?
Solution: Change your perspective.
A large aspect of mindfulness is becoming more aware of how our personality influences our actions and reactions. This also leads to us better understanding why people behave the way they do.
This doesn’t excuse bullying behaviour. It can however help you understand where the other person is coming from and give you an empathetic attitude when you approach the situation, rather than fighting back.
Perhaps your boss is tough on you – is this because (s)he is dealing with his/her own stress? Is (s)he a typically aggressive person who isn’t actually angry at you but taking his/her frustration out on you?
Magical Mindful Moment:
If you are faced with someone difficult or threatening your calm, ask for a time out. Take a break, or suggest an off-site meeting where you can talk calmly about any issues to diffuse the situation?
Taking a few deep breaths before responding can also help you respond from a place of calmrather than react from a place of anger.
Try this Mindfulness Awareness Meditation
Creating an awareness of ourselves in the present moment is a great way to see situations from a different angle and reduce the immediate stress we feel.
To experience this, try this quick 5-min awareness meditation linked below. It’s a great chance to give your mind and body a rest and also helps to develop the space and awareness to combat stress and increase the peace and calm in your life.
To try a Mindfulness Meditation at your workplace, see our range of corporate workshops here: Mindfulness Meditation at Work.