Workplace Stress: How Mindfulness Can Help

This article could quite literally save your life! 

Do you spend most of your time feeling hurried, rushed or stressed?

All too many of us are familiar with a feeling of working with a sense of urgency and sometimes panic that is akin to being in a building that is burning. Many people because of their commitment and dedication to their work or the pressure within work can get overwhelmed, feel burnt out, suffer from work-related stress and anxiety when emails mount up or simply find it hard to say ‘no’. While we might like to think that this pressure is coming from outside, it is in fact largely coming from ourselves and our relationship to what the emails or deadlines mean. The lens through which we see the world creates our world. 

Key to being effective in the workplace is the ability to manage yourself, your emotions and thoughts while maintaining positive health and wellbeing for yourself. Sometimes looking after yourself is not easily prioritised, however, everyone realises how precious health is when it is under threat.

Mindfulness offers the opportunity to develop and hone in on skills that enable a person to bring their awareness to the present moment. You can only deal with reality and stress in the present moment. Quite often though the stress we feel is a result of thinking about the things that are mounting up in front of us in the future or things that we have done in the past, instead of actually dealing with them in the present moment. We all know that feeling of our shoulders creeping up towards our ears during the day from tension. Developing the ability to be aware of our bodies and our minds offer us the opportunity to change. You can’t change what you aren’t aware of. If you don’t even know that your shoulders are around your ears, how can you relax them?

The great thing about mindfulness it is that is actually relatively simple. One fundamental anchor is to connect with your breath. The paradox is that it is actually really quite difficult to cultivate this kind of presence as the mind has a closer relationship to having the attention span similar to that of a puppy in the film ‘Up’ that continually gets distracted by anything that catches his eye ‘squirrel’. 

I like to think of it as having a pair of runners - yes we all have them. Equally, we all have breath, but unless you put on the runners and run you aren’t going to benefit from the exercise. Similarly, if you don’t learn how to develop the focus, discipline, attention and calmness when following your breath then it is just like leaving the runners at the bottom of the stairs. You may have breath but you aren’t going to benefit from not using it as an anchor. Indeed many people put on their runners and through incorrect technique spend quite a bit of time in physiotherapy to compensate for the injury. Similarly, if you don’t learn a specific technique to quiet the mind, and learn how to focus on the breath with equanimity then you can in fact spend a lot of time struggling and actually generate more frustration and anger, than love, compassion and happiness. Mindfulness meditation helps to tap into the happiness that is available to you, in this present moment. Learning from a teacher helps you to tap into this much easier and quicker than trying to do it alone. 

We live in a world that is fast-paced where there are demands constantly for our attention. We allow technology, email, phones etc., demand our attention and prevent us from getting greater more important meaningful goals completed. It requires strong discipline to not get swept up in the manic tension that accompanies many people’s everyday workplace to-do-list or spend your life striving towards something that actually has little meaning or fulfilment for you. 

Indeed our stress is, I’m sorry to say, often self-induced. We create urgency around a lot of what we have to do. So it is up to us to develop the skills that we haven’t learned previously to take control of our lives, our emotions and our thoughts. 

This could quite literally save your life! I know meditation and mindfulness have radically changed how I see the world. If there is one thing that I wish for every person that I meet it is that they find peace and happiness within themselves. Meditation is the key. You and your health are what is most important, as without them you can’t continue to do what it is you love or in some cases figure out what that is.  

‘You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with the finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world and you impoverish yourself if you forget that errand’ – Woodrow Wislon

It’s time to put yourself first, learn a technique that is proven to put control of your life in your hands. Take a chance, invest in yourself, you will be pleasantly surprised!