The sound of a morning radio show abruptly cuts into the still silence of your peaceful slumber. You’re jarred awake by the immediate interruption of the local weather report. Reluctantly, you rise up and sit for what seems like several minutes on the side of the bed, your thoughts immediately flooding your head with tasks and to-dos for the day ahead. In zombie-like fashion, you begrudgingly make your way towards the “get ready” zone which might include the coffee pot. Because… Caffeine! Then the bathroom and closet so you can transform into what appears to be a “put together” human.
Does this sound familiar?
Whatever your role is in life; duties, responsibilities, and obligations are almost always hanging around, like unwelcome house guests. In this day and age, we have multiple resources available for coping: smartphones used for entertainment, books to read, or exercise (well, some of us do anyway). There are also unhealthy practices that give the illusion of coping, such as drinking, drugs, escapism or stress eating.
Thankfully, there are very easy, effective ways to handle stress and the positive results are immediate. For many of us, the stress level peaks in the workplace. Yet at work is when we’re expected to be the most engaged and “on our A-game.” So, how do we keep it all together when we’re falling apart at the seams? Some will say breathe or count to 20 slowly, which might work for slight frustrations. But what about the times when you feel like you just might actually lose it?
You’ve got options. Try mindfulness or transcendence.
Let’s examine what they are and the differences between them both.
Is it possible to do mindfulness at work? If you’re visualizing yourself sitting in a yoga position on a mat in the middle of the office zoning out to your “happy place,” I’m here to tell you that’s not exactly what we’re referring to.
Mindfulness can be achieved sitting in a meeting or at your desk. Mindfulness is simply being aware of the present moment and literally choosing something to focus on that is not stress. It can be a picture in your office, a color, or a soothing sound. If you’re limited to staying indoors most of the workday, taking a walk outside or around the building presents an opportunity to be mindful. Being mindful is nothing more than slowing down long enough to be aware of things that bring you peace or a state of relaxation. Mindfulness is a way to de-escalate and clear your thoughts.
Transcendence is another way to cope with stress, which is similar to mindfulness. Instead of being aware or present, transcendence is the practice of focusing inward to “hear yourself think.” This technique requires learning how to reach a level of what is known as “non-thought,” which literally brings about a sense of calm. Reaching a peaceful state empowers you to think clearly and focus. With such a demand for soft skills like critical thinking, creative problem solving, innovation, change management and adaptability, practicing mindfulness and transcendence inspires the development of such skills.
Now that you are armed to defeat stress and you know your options, it’s really just a matter of whether you want to transcend and “check-out” or to be mindful and “check-in.” The choice is yours.