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Being mindful is not a quick fix for a ‘perfect’ life.

Posted on Fri 24th May, 2019 in: Office Life by Katie Wadsworth

There’s no one-trick method when it comes to quietening your mind and learning to handle stressful situations in life and work. What works for someone else might not be what works for you, but understanding more about what mindfulness is, and involves, can help you find more balance and calm in your life.

Leading us through this journey last week was the wonderful Samantha Toon who came into the office to give us an introduction to mindfulness.

The session was timed to tie-in with Mental Health Awareness Week, a really important week in the calendar which reminds us that we should all talk more openly and more importantly, listen harder to others about mental health, all year round.

Let’s face it, being mindful won’t stop bad things happening at work or in life, so you may be thinking why bother? But what it does give you are the tools to stay calm under pressure and help you look after yourself.

Why does it matter at work?

Whether it’s understanding how to stay cool in a difficult client meeting or quieting that little voice in your head which won’t stop replaying past conversations, we can all utilise mindfulness in the workplace.

One key thing Sam taught us is that mindfulness can help us to manage our emotional system. When we get stressed, our body goes into ‘fight or flight’ mode and because in work that stressful factor is often something digital or intangible, we can’t run away and you can hardly take up a fight with your email, so the body doesn’t know what to do with all of the adrenaline and cortisol it’s producing. So you become frozen in a state of anger and anxiety.

This is where mindfulness comes it.

Taking deep breaths – like the box breath – brings your body back into balance so you can calm down and deal with things in a reasonable and productive way. You can use simple resources like the Box Breath app when you’re on the go.

Box breath diagram

But mindfulness techniques aren’t just for when things go wrong. Everyone in the team has taken something different from the session, so here’s some tips for being more mindful and present in your workday:

1. Pause – take time to breathe in your day, especially if you’re rushing from meetings

2. Create mindful moments – this could be anything from making a cup of tea to drying your hands. Whatever it is that you’re doing, just be fully present in the moment and focus the ritual of what you’re doing

3. Use your breathing exercises – use the box breath to calm your body when things get stressful

4. Eat mindfully – when you’re having your lunch, be present in that moment. Really taste the food and pay attention to the different tastes and textures, rather than just seeing food as a task to ‘get through’

5. Replace judgement and criticism with compassion and curiosity – is there a more helpful way to interpret your thoughts?

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