Skills for Living in the Work Place

By Kirstie Shapiro

You know how many of us experience fear, anxiety, frustration, depression and negative self-talk? When you look at the statistics for this it can be rather overwhelming how many of us are suffering side by side not even knowing it. Culturally it would seem that we like to talk about all the stuff that is going wrong in our lives, we get to feel down-trodden, we get to be victims. Culturally it would appear that speaking about the good stuff is “bragging”, “showing-off” or “being better than everyone else”. And so we are stuck. We are stuck in an endless cycle of only looking for the negative and yet unable to say that we really have a problem, unable to speak out. So, what do we do? Some turn to drink and recreational drugs to “take the edge off”, some become aggressive at home or when they are out, beating others up be it with their words or fists, and others internalize everything, spiraling in an ever-increasing pit of hopelessness and/or depression.

Sounds like a bleak picture I am painting. Well unfortunately the statistics back it up. The age at which depression and anxiety sets in is becoming increasingly younger and younger and the levels of stress are increasing at school, at work, and at home. There never seems to be any let-off of the demands from life. So now what? What can we do? Research suggests that one path to giving ourselves a bit more room to breathe and to be, is mindfulness and relaxation techniques.

Mindfulness is all about learning the skills and tricks to direct attention to the experiences we have in life as they literally unfold, one moment after another. It is about cultivating an attitude towards our life experiences and states or moods with an open-mind, a gentle kindness, friendly curiosity and ultimately acceptance. We learn to develop a response to life which skillfully explores whatever is happening in the here and now.

Mindfulness practice has demonstrated an improvement in the practitioner’s health and general mental and emotional wellbeing.

The reported evidence indicates that people (both adults and children), after completing a Mindfulness course have expanded their abilities to be more creative, learn more effectively, performance and productivity are seen to increase, thinking becomes clearer, stress and anxiety is reduced and they become calmer and more focused in life generally.

It is wonderful to know that even General Medical Practitioners are now referring people to participate in Mindfulness courses across the UK, to support them in preventing and coping with anxiety, depression, stress and chronic conditions like pain.

Businesses are now increasingly offering their staff Mindfulness courses to reduce stress, increase focused productivity and improve staff wellbeing and satisfaction. Athletes are using Mindfulness to improve their performance and reduce stress levels and performance anxiety. In fact, it is evident that most people who dedicate some time to the practice of Mindfulness report a sense of improved wellbeing.

The answer to the question of how we could reduce this epidemic of an increased sense fear, anxiety, frustration, depression and negative self-talk, lies in the simple ancient practices of paying attention in the present moment with gentle kindness and curiosity. Developing the skills to realize that things happen, situations occur and that we get to choose how we will show up, how we will respond, in each moment, which ultimately molds the person we are and shapes the type of life we lead.

It is in the being and not the doing that we find true liberation.