This Thing called ‘Mindfulness’ 1
Ever felt visibly present in a place, say at work but in real time, your thoughts are rummaging through how you intend to conclude a task, laying pretty on your desk? Or you’re probably having a conversation with a colleague in the workplace, but you seem totally disengaged as a result of varying factors.
A few months ago, I was a meeting with a HR Director of a top bank with teams geographically dispersed in regions of the world. We had revealing, deep conversations centered in the workplace and one mind boggling comment was to the extent that an employee engagement survey was conducted in their offices and the results- You guessed right-Worrisome. More than 70% of the staff were found to be disengaged at work, with a specific gender leading the chart, which I’ll certainly not expose as to avoid digressing. Let me quickly mention that I doff my heart for organizations /corporate outfits (small or big), etc. that are employee centric, and pay close attention to their employees by all means. I more often blown away with such thoughtfulness, this should be the norm in all cases but Alas… So, needless to say, I was glad to hear an employee survey was conducted to collect the thoughts of employees on related concerns. The outcome of the survey which changed the dynamics of the discussions we had, however, revealed a truth prevalent in the workplace today and how as employees, we feed of potential stressors consciously and unconsciously.
The impact of stress affects the total wellbeing of a person, having experienced it first hand and I must say, it’s not the best of places to be.
Now, for all it’s worth, employers are expected to appear empathetic, create a healthy work culture and policies devoid of toxicity, support personal and professional growth and development of employees in the best ways possible and the list goes on. However, as employees, we owe ourselves the ultimate, we owe ourselves a stable mental and total wellbeing, I mean, no one should be deprived of this. Our pursuit of happiness in the workplace and our lives by extension should be topmost priority, nothing beats that. But how do we alleviate work stressors and aim for constant engagement at the workplace.
A stressor is anything in the outside world that knocks you out of homeostatic balance. Homeostatic balance is a response from homeostasis, which in a general sense refers to stability or balance in a system. It is the body’s attempt to maintain a constant internal environment. Maintaining a stable internal environment requires constant monitoring and adjustments as conditions change as defined by ‘wikipedia’.
Three ways of identifying and dealing with workplace stressors, include Inquire, Model and Implement process.
Inquire: Identify what the stressors are, investigate the underlying issue triggering stress. If the stress are intrinsic to your role such as work overload, time pressures, have an honest chat with your line supervisor to modify things. A famous quote goes ‘a problem identified is a problem half solved’.
Model: Incorporate practices and behaviour into our day to day behaviour and decisions at work. One interesting tool utilized to achieve this is through ‘mindfulness’.
You see, this thing called mindfulness is an art, an art that can be learned, practiced and cultivated overtime. Wikipedia defines mindfulness as the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something. A mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily The Oxford Mindfulness Center defines mindfulness as “moment-to-moment awareness of one’s experience, without judgment.” Put simply, when you demonstrate mindfulness, you’re ultimately are aware of your feelings, emotions, thoughts but, equally, you don’t simply act on them spontaneously.
Implement : Launch initiative, enact policies, or change something about the context of work to mitigate the causes of chronic stress. This precisely is done at the organizational / policy level in the organization.
For the sake of this piece, I’ll center on the Model step and elaborate ways in which we can incorporate mindfulness, practice and thrive at work.
For the sake of this piece, I’ll center on the Model step and elaborate ways in which we can incorporate mindfulness, practise and thrive at work in the next related post.