Last month the Pew Research Center reported that 157 million people make up the United States workforce. This reflects more than 3 million hours a year spent in the workplace. An individual working a standard full time schedule will spend more than 2 thousand hours a year at work. These hours don’t even account for time to get ready for work, time to make lunch for work, travel time, time answering work emails from home or time spent just thinking about work. Add all this together and it begins to make better sense to call ourselves ‘Human Goings’ instead of Human Beings!
We know it is very important to balance our time and energies between work and personal, family and social time. Research has long since show us that unchecked workplace stress can have huge negative impacts on our health, on our work relationships and our interpersonal relationships outside work. Mindfulness has emerged as a critical tool for individuals to learn to use in order to keep the stress in check and keep our lives balanced. Given the large portion of our weeks spent at work, it is important to create and maintain a mindful approach to our work days.
Here are some very useful ideas, shared on www.mindful.org, by Ahamash Alidina about how to nab the stress and exercise mindfulness at work.
Be Present: When you’re consciously present at work, you’re aware of two aspects of your momentto- moment experience…what’s going on around you and what’s going on within you. Each time your mind wanders, just acknowledge the thoughts and bring your attention back to the task in hand.
Be a Single-Tasker: Multi-tasking is trying to do two or more tasks at the same time or switching back and forth between tasks. Single-tasking is doing one thing at a time. In reality, when you “multi-task” your brain is madly switching from one thing to the next, which often causes additional stress.
Feel Gratitude: Humans have a ‘negativity bias’ which means that you’re much more likely to focus and dwell on something that’s gone wrong than on things that have gone well. Plenty of evidence suggests that actively practicing gratitude makes you feel better and has a positive impact on your creativity, health, working relationships, and quality of work. Gratitude makes being at both work and home more positive experiences.
Cultivate Humility: Humility comes from the Latin humilis, meaning grounded. Humble people have a quiet confidence about themselves and don’t feel the need to continuously remind others of their achievements. Humility is often confused with meekness or timidity but they’re not the same. Humility does not mean seeing yourself as inferior; rather, it means being aware of your natural dependence on and equity with those around you.
Accept What You Cannot Change: Acceptance at the heart of mindfulness. To be mindful means to accept this present moment just as it is. And it means to accept yourself, just as you are now. It doesn’t mean resignation or giving up. But it does mean acknowledging the truth of how things are at this time before trying to change anything.
Bill Mory is a licensed therapist in private practice in Texoma. In addition to individual and family counseling, he provides workplace training on a variety of topics and is a strong community-building advocate. Reach Bill at firstname.lastname@example.org.