1) Step back – take some time to reflect on how you are doing, and what will best support your wellbeing in these challenging days.
Give yourself a one hour space to read through this poem as a first step in managing workplace stress and anxiety.
The Clearing by Martha Postlewaite
Do not try to save
the whole world
or do anything grandiose.
in the dense forest
of your life
and wait there
until the song
that is your life
falls into your own cupped hands
and you recognize and greet it.
Only then will you know
how to give yourself
to this world
so worth of rescue.
Questions for Reflection
- What are you doing in your daily life to ‘create a clearing in the dense forest of your life’ ?
- Are you taking time to create space so that when the ‘song’ of your life falls into your hands you will recognise it? Can you take some ( even a very small time outside everyday? What do you notice?
2)Spend sometime understanding how stress shows up in your body
Take a little time to understand stress as a second step in learning to manage workplace stress and anxiety .The most primitive part of the mammal brain reacts quickly to physical danger. When I am walking across the road and a car approaches at speed the surge of awareness and energy triggered by the amygdala may well save my life. The amygdala in the reptilian part of the brain has three basic reactions: flight from the danger (as in this case); freezing whilst the danger passes by (stay on the pavement); or fighting off an attacker.
- The reason for exploring our stress responses is to know them better. We are then better able to see our stress developing and do something about it. Once we see where the “stress traps” lie we can take “soothing” action by taking a breathing space with compassion to explore what is taking place, soothe ourselves with slower breathing, hand on heart etc and to bring ourselves kind thoughts and actions. Often our old brain stress response kicks in and stays active when in fact there is no obvious danger. This can lead to us getting stuck in a cycle of unhelpful stress response cycle that can lead to chronic stress with its serious physical impact on the body.
- You might spend some time getting to know our personal stress triggers (the things that most easily press our buttons), we looked at some unhelpful thinking patterns such as self-blame and self-criticism that increase our stress and we considered the places in the body where we are most likely to experience physical stress reactions (eg stomach churning, faster breathing and heart rate, tense muscles in shoulders, thighs and forehead etc).
|Name 2 or 3 things that cause you stress. |
Where in your body do you feel the stress?
How do you soothe yourself when stress arises?
3) Learn to Press the ‘Pause Button’
- Mindfulness is evidence based practise- learning to press the ‘pause’ button so we notice what is happening in the present moment. We know from neuroscience that even very short practises help us to better manage stress and pain, and to live with more ease, clarity and happiness. This is the third step in learning to manage workplace stress and anxiety.
- When practising mindfulness you cannot do anything wrong….our busy minds are not a problem or an interruption. In fact every time we notice the busy mind that is a wonderful moment of mindfulness ….you are aware of what is happening in that moment – you are present to your experience.
Start with a one minute practise like this
Use this practise at regular intervals during the day.
4)Build your own tool box of practical resources for managing stress and anxiety as it shows up in your life.
Building our own toolbox of practical things we can do to help shift our negative energy when we are feeling stressed is a great way to support our own wellbeing.
We know that as humans one of the key things we need to have in there is connection with others. What practical things can you do to support your own wellbeing at this time?
Make a list if 10 to 15 activities and commit to using one of these when you notice your stress levels rising or maybe tipping you over into anxiety. Sometimes these are activities we enjoyed when we were younger and they somehow got squeezed out as we got older and busier.
5) Find even one way to bring some self compassion into your life
- The secret sauce of mindfulness is self compassion- bringing this same kindness to ourselves that we often much more easily bright to others who are having a hard time.
Consider the qualities of a good friend. In mindfulness and compassionate living an important start place is to consider bringing these qualities to how we treat ourselves.
The core attitudes are:
- Beginnrs Mind
- Letting go
Spend some time with these attitudinal foundations – which seem easiest to you, which most challenging?.
Which one or two these qualities would you like to focus on as you strengthen your friendship towards yourself?