When we think of the workplace, are we elevated by the idea? Excited to clock in on Monday morning? Most of us are working an average 8-12 hour days, five days a week. Some of us have physically demanding jobs, others mentally demanding jobs. You may be working in a role that you don’t even particularly like or enjoy. So how does that leave you feeling after the working week is done?
If you answered flat, stressed, drained, then you have landed on the right article. Reading this post is the first step, so acknowledge yourself for getting here - but change will not happen unless you take ownership of your mindset and take action on the following steps below. By approaching these principles playfully, you'll notice instant change in your physiology, allowing space for you to find calm amidst stressful situations.
Boosting your mindset during times of stress or unhappiness can be difficult, so here are four simple ways you can help maintain a healthier mindset at your workplace.
1. Ask yourself – What exactly is the problem?
To help fix a problem, we first need to acknowledge what the problem is. Getting as specific as possible is key here. Take some time to work out what exactly is causing you to have an unhealthy mindset. Bring your awareness to the problem that arises - are you blaming someone else for making you feel a certain way? Perhaps you are replaying an issue that happened a while ago yet you can't seem to shake it off? Once you work out what some of these factors are, ask yourself -
“Is there anything I can do to take ownership of this situation and move forward with ease, clarity and peace of mind? What can I do to diffuse the stress I have about this particular situation?"
If you don’t like the commute to work, create a playlist of up lifting songs to help boost your mood on your way into work. If you find the day drags on, boldly ask one of your colleagues if they would be interested in playing cards on your lunch break, or throw a frisbee down at a nearby park. If the issues are out of your control, such as workplace bullying, make sure you organise a meeting with your HR representative to discuss how you are feeling.
2. Focus on your goals
Generally, we encourage living in the present and not focusing too much energy on our past or on our future, however, when our current situation is not ideal, it is helpful to have something you can look forward to that shifts your mentality and perspective.
If you are not working in a role you enjoy, start viewing your current role as a stepping stone to something greater. Use any contacts you have to help build a pathway to a career that is more aligned with yourself, and research any upcoming courses or seminars that may assist you on your new path. Suffering often comes from believing that the situation we are currently experiencing is not temporary, so just being open and curious to other pathways allows space for the stress to dissipate.
3. Pause and take a deep breath
This might seem simple enough, but most of us are breathing relatively shallow during the day and fast paced when we feel are under pressure. This keeps our bodies in our sympathetic nervous system, also known as ‘fight or flight’. Our heart rate increases and our body will become tense. To help physically reduce our heart rate, and to switch into our parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest), lengthen your exhale. Stop and actually focus on your breathing. Try extending your exhale by breathing out of your nose or mouth for a count of 5, then 7, then 10 if possible. I would recommend sitting and focusing on your breathing a few times during the day. By focusing on our breath, we can physically and bio-chemically change the way we are feeling in a moment of high stress
4. Schedule in some 'YOU' time
This is very important on our journey to a happier and healthier mindset (and overall life). Many of us, especially working in high demanding jobs with long hours have the underlying belief that there is no time for play or pleasure or 'me' time. Once we become aware of these patterns, we can decide to choose again. Alongside the stacks of research that highlights rest as the holy grail to health, we know that life is here for the living - not just the working.
As an experiment, schedule in 1-2 hours of 'me' time this coming week, and perhaps the week after. Add the downtime to your schedule and treat it like any other meeting or appointment. Whatever feels good to you - do that! It could be booking a massage, listening to an audiobook, or going on a gentle walk in nature.
By adopting some of the above techniques, you'll find a greater sense of ease and flow throughout the work day, a felt sense of being grounded in your body and boosted confidence. Not bad side effects of taking ownership of our mindset, eh?