Its the beginning of the day and you open your calendar to see the tasks and appointments for the day. There is a sense of restriction within your throat as you think about the day unfolding. You think about all the possible distractions and interruptions that may occur, stress begins to well within your gut, your heart beat starts to race, the phone rings and it sets you off. You’ve only been at work for 10 minutes and you’re ready to go home.
This is common for many people, especially on Monday mornings. This was my story for years — I would stress myself out just anticipating stress. Then, I decided to change that part of me. I knew the trigger well. I allowed it to send me into a deep spiral. I was done spinning. Focus was what I craved. Results desired to be attained. The first step was to stop myself and just be where I was and not off in the “what ifs”.
“Do you know about living in the present?” is a question that I am frequently asked by clients. The answer is more than a simple “yes” or “no”. Living in the present takes practice because it requires mindfulness.
Mindfulness is the practice of being present and in the moment. I started learning to be mindful after a particularly rough breakdown. I was suffering from intense anxiety which gave way to an occasional panic attack. I talked to doctors and therapists and didn’t find the relief I knew was possible until I learned to be still and present.
I was a bulldozer/whirlwind/lightning bolt who did not like to be still. When I found myself sitting in silence at first, I was uncomfortable and tried to control the outcome.
Slowly, I let go. Slowly, I learned to be present. Slowly, my reactions faded from thunderous panic into deep cleansing breaths.
Here are a few things to do the next time you are at work and feel that stewing/panic/rage/annoyance bubble up. Try these steps for a month. Notice the changes you experience. Many of these can be done right at your desk or even before you enter work. With the intention of practicing mindfulness, you will find a new way to cope when work sends you reeling:
- Breathe: Take 3-5 cleansing breaths in and out your nose. We can forget to breathe during stressful situations which can constrict breathing, thus creating a secondary stress.
- Reframe your thought: When you find yourself in a negative thought pattern, recognize your thought and reframe it into something positive. Create a mantra or intention for the rest of the day.
- Write it out: Taking a moment to write out the stress can give your brain the time to process the situation and thus take it off your mind.
- Practice gratitude: Take a moment and offer gratitude for something.
By actively taking the steps to create a change in negative thought patterns a change is occurring inside the brain. Mindfulness practices can change the way we react to negative situations. As the practice becomes stronger, the reactions become weaker.
For more information on mindfulness and dealing with stress at work, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org