The place we work can be a lot of different things: it can be intellectually stimulating, exciting, and personally fulfilling.
But for most of us, there’s another thing that the workplace can be that isn’t quite so positive. And that’s STRESSFUL.
We spend more time at work than anywhere else with many of us clocking 40, 50 or even more hour at the office each week. And if we work in a stressful environment, those stressors can have a negative effect that creeps into our personal life.
But stress at work doesn’t have to derail you. Applying the principles of mindfulness to stressful work situations can help you better handle the situation, let go of the stress, and continue on your day with a higher sense of ease and well-being.
Here are four stressful workplace situations that could threaten your peace of mind – and how to combat them with mindfulness techniques:
Most people are more afraid of public speaking than anything else, including death. So it makes sense that before you’re set to give a big presentation to your colleagues, you may start to feel nervous and stressed out.
Pre-presentation jitters are totally normal, but they can also negatively impact your presentation. When you take a mindful approach to those jitters, you can transform that nervous energy into excitement and head into your presentation feeling centered and ready to impress your audience.
If you find yourself dealing with anticipatory anxiety ahead of a presentation, getting yourself into a mindful state and centering yourself in the moment can work wonders in taking that nervous energy and transforming it into fuel for your upcoming speech. Find a quiet room, close your eyes, and bring your attention to your breath. Notice each inhale and exhale, and if you find your mind wandering to stressful thoughts about your presentation, gently bring your awareness back to your breath.
Do this exercise for 3 to 5 minutes or until you notice the physical signs of stress, like a racing heart or sweaty palms, start to dissipate. You’ll be able to tackle your presentation with lowered nerves and a clearer head.
It’s inevitable that at some point in your workplace you’ll work on a project with tight deadlines. Working in a time crunch and feeling like you don’t have enough time to properly do your work can be a stressful situation, and that stress can actually cause you to lose focus and make more mistakes.
If a tight deadline is threatening to overwhelm you, it’s time to use mindfulness to re-frame the situation. Instead of focusing your thoughts on all there is to do, focus on completing the task in front of you. Make a list of everything that needs to be done before your deadline and then dedicate your awareness to one task at a time.
If you find yourself stressing out about the rest of the tasks on your list, remind yourself “I’m working on task A right now. When I’m finished with task A, I’ll move on to task B.” By remaining focused on individual tasks, you’ll avoid the feelings of overwhelm that come along with trying to focus on the entire project at once.
You can also use a mantra to help center yourself in the moment, such as “I have an abundance of time to finish my work.”
In a perfect world, you would only work with people who inspire you and push you to be better. But we don’t live in a perfect world, so chances are you’re going to run into a co-worker or two who challenges you in a way that leaves you feeling stressed out and depleted.
If you find yourself partnered with a co-worker with a challenging personality, having a consistent mindfulness practice can actually help you better deal with their personality quirks and challenges. One of the cornerstones of mindfulness is acceptance of the present moment as it is; allowing whatever is going to happen, happen without the need to change or control it.
This practice of radical acceptance can be hugely beneficial when you’re forced to work with someone you might consider challenging. By practicing mindfulness and accepting the person and situation as is, you’ll find yourself less bothered by the other person’s behavior. They may not change, but this acceptance will change your perception of and reaction to them, which will help you deal with your interactions without feeling too much stress.
No one’s perfect. And no matter how qualified or hard-working you may be, you WILL make mistakes at work, some bigger than others.
Realizing you made a mistake is an inherently stressful experience. Many people spend a significant amount of time beating themselves up over the mistake and what they should have done differently. But mindfulness can help you move out of the negativity associated with your mistake, let go and move forward.
If you find yourself stressing over a past mistake, pause and take a deep breath. Is there anything you can do in the immediate moment to fix the mistake? If so, take the steps necessary to fix it. If not, notice how the stress is manifesting in your body. Is your chest tight? Does your skin feel tingly?
Then notice your thoughts surrounding the mistake. What is your internal dialogue? Are you shaming or berating yourself for the mistake?
Pause and observe your thoughts and bodily sensations without trying to change them. Just observe and, when a negative feeling or thought arises, gently let it go. As you continue this practice, you’ll find the negative thoughts and feelings have less power and will eventually disappear entirely, allowing you to move forward from your mistake.
Those are just a few potentially stressful situations that may come up at work, but if you find yourself facing another type of work stress, try this mindfulness trick that will help lower your stress in any given situation: breathe in for 4, hold for 4, breathe out for 4, hold for 4. When you practice this kind of slow, steady breathing you’ll banish the physical symptoms of stress and actually rewire your brain to be calmer.
Work can be a stressful place, but with these mindfulness practices, you can find your calm in the center of the storm.
If you’d like to learn how train yourself how perform confidently under pressure at work and life in general you can schedule a free consultation with me by clicking here.