Mindfulness & Work

Last week I began the 'Mindfulness &' series with a focus on our physical health. I gained a different perspective on how another expert utilizes mindfulness to build a strong mind-body connection to get people out of their heads and into their bodies. 

This week, I am focusing on where mindfulness fits into the workplace. I am especially interested in this topic as I grow my own business and shift from full time "normal" work to entrepreneurship. 

While some very progressive companies like Google promote and utilize mindfulness in the workplace, most of the time mindfulness practices can be seen as counterproductive to work. I have a hunch that Google is onto something and feel compelled to help others find more balance and mindfulness in their work place. Whether you are in corporate America, small business, or you are your own boss, mindfulness can make a major positive impact on your work life.

This week I interviewed Sarah Anassori, Life Coach to emerging change makers and business leaders. Her coaching philosophy centers on the perspective that we bring our whole selves to everything we do. She believes that only through strengthening and unifying each aspect of our life, learning to work with, not against, our fears and inner critics, and fully stepping into our authentic self, are we truly able to access our power and potential as leaders. 

Sarah has spent many years in the corporate world but her roots were much more spiritually based. She recently left the big leagues to begin businesses that felt more aligned with her beliefs. She coaches women looking to make serious moves in their lives and businesses and help make their dreams a reality.

Sarah shed a lot of light on how mindfulness practices can be used to boost morale, productivity, and investment in a person's work. She also confirmed what I thought: mental wellness is usually not a priority in the corporate world. Despite what may come from above, workers always can make the choice to be more mindful during their work day.

To Sarah, mindfulness is defined as letting the mind rest in order to be present in the moment. She pointed out that there is a lot of focus on external events in the workplace. We might be thinking about how others are perceiving us, how our productivity is, and what needs to happen next rather than how am I being to myself. Sarah noted that when we are in this constant go-go-go state of mind, we can forget the basic necessities like eating, drinking water, and going to the bathroom. 

This resonates a lot for me because I have been in those jobs where I "forget" to eat or notice that I have not went to the bathroom all day. This is not normal, guys. However this is what work can push us into: a state of disconnection with ourselves.

So how do we remedy this situation? Sarah suggests that there are always small ways to bring mindfulness practices into work. She offers a simple technique of checking in with yourself a few times a day in order to scan for those basic needs as well as asking yourself how you are feeling. 

This is a tool I offer to my clients as well and is very effective in getting people out of their to-do list and into the present moment. It can be done anywhere and any time so I encourage you to use it no matter where you are at with your mindfulness practice.

Sarah brought up a really key point about mindfulness that I have not yet mentioned: it is easy to get knocked off center from your mindfulness practice. She mentions that the key is knowing that you have the option to go back to center and revisit those questions. In work, we bring so much of ourselves into the arena so if we are not feeling grounded and centered, often times our work will suffer. In these moments, you can gently bring yourself back to the present and choose how you want to go forward.

I mentioned before that Sarah has since left her corporate job to become an entrepreneur. As it turns out, there are even more specific ways in which you can use mindfulness practices when you are running your own business and being your own boss.

Like anything in life, entrepreneurship has its ups and downs. We discussed these positive points such as you are the one that is in control over the tone of your work and the direction of your business. On the flip side, everything is on you. Sarah and I agreed that it is equal parts empowering and scary.

As a business owner, especially as a coach like Sarah or a therapist like myself, our work is our livelihood. Sarah mentioned the challenge in separating 'Sarah the coach' from 'Sarah the human.' She explained that her mindfulness practice in her own business centers around this reminder that her identity is not her work. 

This is a key distinction to make and one that requires a lot of present awareness to accomplish. As an entrepreneur it becomes easy to value yourself only in the progress and success of your business. After all, you are putting your heart and soul into creating something that you also are requiring to support you financially. 

Sarah mentioned how easy it can be to get taken away in these rules and judgement which are actually the opposite of what mindfulness aims to accomplish. We discussed how to switch this energy from negative to positive by using mindfulness as a way to be aware of the thoughts, feelings, struggles and triumphs of business life rather than making judgments.

I hope you have enjoyed learning about how you can use mindfulness in your work life. No matter the job you have, you can always choose to implement mindful practices in your life. Doing this can help you become more present and directed at work and can also help you get those basic needs met like drinking water and eating.

If you are an entrepreneur looking for a coach to help you make your dreams go from someday to now, you can contact Sarah or learn more about her group coaching program Stepping Into Someday.