When Sunday night rolls around and you think about work on Monday—how do you feel?
Think deeply about the true answer to this question. For most of us, myself included, there likely is a feeling of apprehension. The apprehension is not rooted in the work I do. In fact, I LOVE the work that I do. The apprehension is not because of the people whom I work with—I love them too! The apprehension comes from the stress caused by having to process an extraordinary amount of information on a daily basis.
Things Used to Be Simple
Perhaps this will make me sounds like a dinosaur, but when I started my career in the early 2000s I worked in a small office. Our operation was old-school, even by the standards of the day. Memos were still paper-based and often sent via fax. Phone messages were taken on a notepad. Files were kept in cabinets. Email was a thing, but I only got around 20 a day. If I needed to speak to a colleague I would walk to their desk or call them on the phone. While this job came with its stresses, I never felt overwhelmed by the amount of information that I had to process. Simply put, things moved slower.
Twenty years later and the world has changed considerably. The technology that is supposed to help us work more efficiently has created an expectation that our human brains process it at the same speed as the computers who deliver it. It’s simply impossible. Today’s version of a workday typically includes:
- Hundreds of emails
- Instant message chats going nonstop throughout the day
- Video conferences; some with a non-stop side bar of chats
- Social media
- News alerts on my phone
- Text messages
- On occasion…wait for it – my actual phone will ring
While I’m no scientist, I know we are not designed for this. I can feel it in my bones and in my brain. I’m a firm believer that multi-tasking is ineffective, yet it is incredibly challenging to work in today’s environment without some level of it.
If you relate to what I am saying, you are not alone. You probably also know that you can’t control the pace in which we are forced to work, only your reaction to it.
Enter mindfulness at work….
My Meditation Journey
While I’ve had a meditation practice for several years, it had never taken place during working hours. But these days, with many of us working remotely, life and work are more intertwined than ever before. If we don’t step away from the madness to catch a breath of fresh air, it can lead to a sense of burnout and a whole host of other negative emotions.
Practicing meditation while at work doesn’t have to be difficult. You can simply step outside for 5 minutes for some fresh air. Or, simply can hide in the bathroom with the door closed—a handy tip for working from home with family members or working in an office. Or, you can listen to a short, guided meditation on your favorite app. You can do it right now at your desk! Try just putting your computer in sleep mode, closing your eyes, and feeling yourself breathing for 2 minutes—it can be really helpful.
If you are looking for something more formal, the Wise@Work program through Wisdom Labs has been an incredible asset at LinkedIn. Sessions include videos recorded by experts who offer guided meditations as well as instruction on the science behind each practice which validates why they are effective and necessary in today’s world of work. As a Wise@Work Community Leader for our remote employees, I’ve been impressed with this offering which has allowed me to build a community, learn so much more about why I crave meditation each day, and have meaningful discussions with other remote employees who I otherwise never would have met.
It's ok if you don’t know how to start—just start. It’s easier than you may think. I’m guessing you have a phone next to you. Pick it up, and put it in do not disturb mode. Set a timer for 2 minutes, or 5, or even 10 minutes; whatever you can spare. Now, close your eyes and breathe deeply.
Commit to doing this at least once each day and you’ll see the magic happen.
Wisdom Labs is solving for stress, anxiety, and loneliness in the workplace using the science of mindfulness, resilience, and compassion. Our turnkey corporate mindfulness solution provides companies with scalable mindfulness training that encourages healthy habits, builds resilience, and fosters community inside your organization.