Use Mindfulness to Counteract the Turmoil of Returning to the Office
As employees return to the office following nearly 15 months of pandemic- imposed remote work, bosses and supervisors are finding that worklife has changed. Employees, now accustomed to the autonomy of working in their own settings, on their own time, and where they can attend to whatever issues that homelife presents, are less focused. They all wish to rehash their time apart with coworkers who they haven’t seen face-to-face for more than a year. Getting down to business is a slow process at a time when there’s so much to be done.
Engaging in a Mindfulness practice can be tremendously helpful in handling the transition back to managing staff in person. Mindfulness is a way to be present in the moment with total awareness. It enables leaders to bring their best selves to employee interactions and work situations. It creates a feeling of expansiveness that lets leaders show up fully awake and authentic. By living each moment in a heightened state of awareness, they become more cognizant of when they’re being inauthentic, either to themselves or to others.
Practicing Mindfulness means committing to being fully present, and if or when the mind begins to wander — which it invariably will — immediately bringing the focus and awareness back to the present. Mindfulness is an invaluable tool for reaching a more heightened state of awareness. It allows more active listening, thoughtful communicating and authentic engagement with others — all qualities that make for better leaders.
And, by sharing concepts and ways to practice with staff, Mindfulness can become integrated across the organization and change the energy around how everyone approaches the work and interacts with the team. People become more aware of their environment, their own feelings, and the needs of others.
Use these Mindfulness tools to bring a new and better workplace culture into post-pandemic office life:
- Introduce Mindfulness and its benefits.
Invite a Mindfulness coach to share the benefits of Mindfulness techniques in reducing stress and raising the overall level of consciousness during the workday. Place the emphasis on the heightened performance and more meaningful coworker relationships that Mindfulness offers. Invite staff members to offer ideas for how to integrate Mindfulness into the workplace. If possible, offer a quiet, welcoming space — whether indoors or outdoors — where people can step away and clear their heads.
- Promote mindful breathing exercises.
One way to connect to the present is by focusing on the breath. Offer this simple breathing exercise when staff needs to regain a sense of calmness and re-establish present-moment awareness.On the inhalation, (silently) count 1234-1.
On the exhalation, count 1234-2.
On the inhalation, count 1234-3.
On the exhalation, count 1234-4.
(Repeat to the count of 10 — or for longer as needed.)
Ask for feedback about whether staff notices more grounding and focus once the breathing exercise becomes common practice. Encourage workers to do this any time during the day when they begin to feel stressed or overwhelmed.
- Build pauses into the workday.
Instead of imposing the expectation of non-stop busyness from the start to the finish of the workday, make a point of allowing pauses amid the work activity. Encourage meetings to end 10 or 15 minutes before another begins so that everyone has time for some conscious breathing and connecting to their place of inner calm. The more practice everyone has at inserting pauses into their days, the better they’ll become at pausing to reset back to their conscious center and to the present moment.
- Focus on listening mindfully.
The office day can become rife with distractions, which means we may not be giving our full focus to others when they’re talking or asking questions. Make a practice of listening attentively and mindfully. This shows coworkers that their opinions matter and that their ideas are worthy of our undivided attention.
- Practice “noting.”
Another Mindfulness tool, noting means noticing or paying particular attention to something. It’s a way to become aware of what we’re feeling or experiencing during moments in the workday. With it, when a team member does something we find irritating, instead of reacting to the annoyance, we note what we’re feeling and stay present with it. Having an awareness of how we feel, and noting it to ourselves silently, we can breathe through it and tell ourselves something like: “I’m irritated right now, but I don’t have to react to this;” or “I can tell my team member how I feel at another time when I’m not as affected by my emotions.” Noting enforces self-regulation. Practice noting throughout the day — noticing how it feels to take a sip of coffee or tea, or to take deep, calming breaths. Noting helps to ground us and feel less stressed.
- Embrace a sense of oneness.
We’re all part of a “collective consciousness,” which means we’re all connected, and how we live our lives affects others. Mindfulness puts us in touch with our sense of oneness and non-separation with others. It teaches us to be more selfless, understanding, and compassionate human beings. By living as consciously as we can, we better understand our responsibility for all of humanity. And through this understanding, we create a ripple effect that has a positive impact on humankind as a whole.
Mindfulness is the perfect tool to help organizations raise their consciousness and create a more fulfilling, humane, and productive culture.
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