Mind Body Soul
Mindfulness in the workplace
Taking care of yourself isn’t limited to just one area of life. Run a marathon every weekend but sustain yourself solely on junk food, and you’ll quickly peter out – at least for most people. Get the workouts and healthy food in, while ignoring piled-up stress and poor sleep, and you’re out of whack again.
Full-body health doesn’t rely on just one approach. Feeding your mind, body, and soul is a constant goal. Few of us get it right every day.
That’s why we asked several area experts for tips on how to make it a little bit easier to try.
- Mind: Read below to hear from Tina Abraham on mindfulness in the workplace.
- Body: Click here to jump into Amy Stewart’s workout routine.
- Soul: Click here to find your food balance with Sonia Kennedy.
TINA ABRAHAM, owner and founder of PURMINDFUL (purmindful.com), is a qualified mindfulness teacher, having taken a three-year MBSR Teacher Training Program at the University of Massachusetts Medical School as well as the Mindfulness in Schools Project course at Mindful Schools.
She opened PURMINDFUL in 2016, offering mindfulness classes to businesses and schools and coaching to individuals.
“We all experience some degree of tension in life, but excessive stress can take a toll on your body and mind,” Abraham says. “Mindfulness is a powerful tool that can help you manage the harmful effects of stress, anxiety, depression, and help you live a more joyful, aware life.”
In working with companies and employees about mindfulness in the workplace, what are some of the top stressors people seem to be dealing with?
Abraham: “Top stressors I see often are long hours, lack of control, heavy workload, and tight deadlines. Another that speaks out loud and clear is career ambiguity as it creates uncertainty in their jobs, which creates anxiety and a sense of helplessness.
Some of this shows up because we create storylines in our minds about how we are doing or what someone is thinking.
Solving this can be done in a couple of ways: First, it is important for the employee to ask themselves if the stories they are telling themselves are true, is it a fact? Ninety percent of the time it’s not a fact, it is our mind creating these narratives.
Another way is to have a discussion with your manager or supervisor asking for what you need – which, could be a weekly or monthly conversation letting them know how they are doing, which will help to confirm that their job is secure and what is expected of them. Communication is key in any situation and tends to alleviate fears that are involved in the workplace.”
How have some of those changed or not during the past year of pandemic and remote working for many?
Abraham: “Stress is still prevalent during the pandemic, if anything it has increased and taken on a new flavor. Many people are experiencing burnout working from home. This is because their home is not just a place to ‘unwind’ any longer; it also is where they work, … and just to add to it, the experience of depression on top of the fear and anxiety that is typically present when facing stress at work. So, in essence, the mind is trying to take it all in and still be able to complete the workload, which leaves many exhausted mentally and physically.”
What’s the connection between stress reduction and a healthier, happy work environment?
Abraham: “It’s really important for companies to create a healthy workplace culture that’s conducive to creativity and productivity, and this equates to less absenteeism in the workplace and a healthier happier workforce.”
What tips can you share for reducing work stress?
Abraham: “For an acute situation, the first thing you should do is recognize that you are experiencing stress and observe yourself without judging, simply noticing what your experience is and what feelings are present – not what you are thinking. (For example,) my mind is racing, my chest feels contracted, my breath is shallow, I am feeling anxious.
Focus in on the breath and accept that this is what you are experiencing in this moment and know that it will shift, whether it is in five minutes, thirty minutes, or a couple of days.
We get hung up on thinking that when we experience difficult emotions that they will always be here, and this is not the case. So, if you can say to yourself ‘This too shall pass,’ it helps to alleviate some of the anxiety that can be wrapped around stress.
If you are living stress day in and day out, it’s important to do some self-care and self-compassion towards yourself, which can look like many things. Here are a few examples: exercise, eating healthy, quiet time, journaling, and meditation.
It is incredible how many people do not take time to just to do nothing, just to allow their mind to settle and watch all the thoughts that show up.
We need this time to let the pressure valve off. Instead, we pack in all our stressors, what we have to do, what we haven’t done, thinking of the past, the future, and then what will people think of me.
That is a heavy load to carry around every day. So, the idea is, can we just touch into all of those thoughts and allow them and recognize that the majority of them are just causing us more stress?
Can we label them as what they are? Just thoughts!”
Tina Abraham, who works with people on life coaching and with schools to help introduce mindfulness to kids, also shares tips about managing stress at home and for children and teens. To read those tips, visit this story at wilmamag.com/features/health.
To view more of photographer Megan Deitz’s work, go to megandeitz.com.
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