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30 Jan
2014

Reducing Stress At Work

 

Thinking back to those times in my life when I had what I considered to be a proper job, those times were always filled with stress, anxiety and worry. People placed demands upon me that I was not at all comfortable with. They attempted to pressure me into doing what I was told rather than what I believed was right. They even tried to develop skills I didn’t have rather than those that I excelled at. Every one of those jobs, bar the first, I left because of the level of stress I was experiencing. It was generally bad enough that my doctor medicated me in an attempt to help.

The medication helped me function; it never removed or dealt with the source of the problem. It damped down my emotional responses so that my affect was rather zombieified.

Working for myself is much more fun. There are no fewer stresses, worries, or anxieties, but because I am in charge, I can do whatever I want to in order to deal with them.

I have become powerful, rather than powerless.

I am in control rather than out of control.

There lies the biggest part of the problem – other people with their demands and expectations. However, we are social creatures and we need to interact with others. So how can we achieve that while retaining our cool?

Mindfulness is something that is growing and being recognised as a way to remain in control in the workplace even while there are pressures upon you. You see the only problem is your thinking. You can’t help doing that. I’ve been working towards stopping doing it for years and am no closer. What I am much closer to though is a state of peacefulness, even when things are not working as I would wish. It takes decades of dedication to achieve an empty mind. Most of us have better things to do. But what you can do is rein in your wild beast and train it to do your bidding rather than its own.

Mindfulness is a way to do that.

There are books and websites devoted to this, but I like to simplify things first and then get complicated later. All mindfulness is, is being aware of whatever you are aware of right now. Not tomorrow, not yesterday, not in that meeting in an hour’s time, not those hurtful words that were spoken to you moments ago – right now.

Let’s say you’ve got a supervisor at work who is a bit of a bully, has no social skills, and lacks the ability to motivate using positive reinforcement. This is on your mind a lot of the time. You hate going in to work, maybe even throw up before you leave, you wish she would leave or die or get a sideways promotion or something… …anything.

So you find your thoughts returning, time and again, to this subject in whatever way is your mind’s way of reminding you that you are weak and powerless. What you do now is, whenever you notice that your thoughts have drifted into this territory again, take a deep breath, let it out slowly and become aware of all the sensations in your body associated with that movement of air. You might choose to focus on the sensations of the air in your nostrils, or the falling of your chest. Do that once or twice and then, if you are still present (and you may not be) move your awareness to those sensations where your body is in contact with something. Maybe your fingers on a keyboard, your hands on a desk, the pressure of your thighs against your chair, or your feet against the floor – even your clothing against your skin.

Throughout the day whenever you notice your mind is on your supervisor’s behaviour, return to this mindful activity.

Ok! You think. That’s great (sarcasm). How exactly does that destroy my supervisor?

Well it doesn’t. Yes, your supervisor may be out of order, but that isn’t the first order of business. The first order of business is for you to take control of your thinking. If you never gave what your supervisor did a moment’s thought – she would not be a problem. If you never gave your supervisor a moment’s thought, then when she made an unreasonable request, you would be able to respond spontaneously, without fear, and do or say whatever was appropriate.

Yes, some people are unsuited to the positions they hold. And, yes, sometimes they get to be in charge of more intelligent, kind and sensitive people that they really don’t know how to handle. But that’s not your problem. Your problem is your mind and where it takes you. You can leave it wild so that you live in fear – or you can start on the journey to train it so that you can live in peace.

The choice is yours.

Mindfulness is the first step.

Check out my book Change Your Life with Self Hypnosis if you would like to explore this further.

Article inspired by: http://www.kansascity.com/2014/01/28/4782421/balancing-act-working-with-mindfulness.html

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