26 September 2023

What to do when your workplace turns sour

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There is no escaping the fact that some workplaces can turn stressful — even toxic. Ashley Stahl* suggests steps to mitigate the problem.

The workplace can be stressful, it can be overwhelming and it can be downright negative — but it doesn’t always have to be.

As a business and career coach, I have worked with many clients who are dissatisfied with their current job.

A recent client, Jessica, was one of them.

“My company is going sour.

We have these new leaders coming in, and they’re enforcing longer hours, pay cuts and so much more,” Jessica told me.

Needless to say, she started dreading work every day and felt like she needed to land a new job, pronto.

I explained to her that it’s easy to land a new job when you have a step-by-step system, but it wouldn’t just happen overnight.

She needed to get into action, and it’d be more important than ever for her to cultivate a positive mindset in the workplace.

That means being mindful and connecting to her joy, regardless of what’s going on around her.

Can you relate? Here are four steps to build your mindfulness, perfect for you if you want to decrease stress, increase fulfilment, and be more proficient at work.

Set a daily intention

Looking beyond medication and yoga, science reveals that intentions are profoundly capable of impacting all aspects of your life.

Your conscious intentions drive your unconscious activities.

There are four neural networks within your brain: Default, reward, affect and control.

The last network, control (also referred to as willpower) is what drives intentionality and when blood flows to this region of the brain, achievement activities occur.

What you think and feel dictates what happens in your daily actions.

So start living with intent.

As your computer turns on, resist the urge to scroll through your social media feeds.

Instead, take a moment to set an intention for the day.

Close your eyes, take a few calming breaths and choose a single mantra or a general emotion you would like to bring with you throughout the day.

Recite it out loud to yourself, or even write it down.

One great mantra you can try out is: “I expand with abundance, success, and love every day.

“And I inspire those around me to do the same.”

Take a calming break

It can be so tempting to power through the day without stopping.

However, it has been proven that this is actually harmful to your productivity and causes you to hit that afternoon slump.

When your brain lacks sufficient rest your ability to consolidate and remember information declines along with generating creative ideas.

Resist the urge to keep working and take a true break at lunchtime or in the early afternoon.

Take a walk outside, sit in the sun or enjoy a casual lunch with a friendly co-worker.

Taking a break like this actually increases ability to focus and reduces stress and fatigue.

Try some progressive muscle relaxation exercises the next time you give yourself a break.

Observe how your mood and outlook change.

Quit the multitasking and focus on one goal

Doing more than one thing at the same time is a major energy drain.

Studies show that multitasking kills productivity by up to 40 per cent and one of the biggest culprits of this is the constant email checking.

Let go of the need to reply to every notification immediately.

Instead, close or turn off your inbox notifications.

Set defined time aside to focus only on checking email, let’s say 9am and 2pm.

This way, you are able to focus completely on the tasks at hand.

If there is a real emergency, someone can call you or come find you at your desk.

Take control of your productivity and allow yourself to be mindful of the task at hand.

List out what you are grateful for

Gratitude and mindfulness go hand-in-hand.

Gratitude allows you to notice the blessings and positive aspects of your life and job, while mindfulness helps you be present and experience them.

Do you ever notice that it’s hard for you to remember life events or key information?

That’s likely not because you have a bad memory, but rather because you’re not being present.

Studies have shown that efforts at work are increased by 50 per cent when you feel grateful.

When you practice gratitude you feel more joy and happiness on a daily basis and you perceive things from a more positive light.

At the close of each workday spend the last five minutes listing three things you are grateful for.

If you are grateful for a co-worker or team of people, perhaps reach out to them and express this gratitude.

Closing out the day on a positive note will increase your awareness and bring to light the positive things you are mindful of.

Not only that, practicing gratitude increases your physical health and mental strength.

You will walk away from your desk feeling ready to tackle the days ahead.

Whether you are dissatisfied at work or are looking for ways to amplify your quality of life, incorporating mindfulness into your world is a game changer.

Jessica was able to bring these practices into her daily routine while searching for a new job, and by the time we completed our work together (six weeks later) she was leveraging two job offers.

Know that your pain is temporary, and mindfulness is the key to love who you are, regardless of what’s happening around you.

Now, take a deep breath, recite your mantra for the day, and be mindful always.

*Ashley Stahl is a career coach, keynote speaker, podcast host and author. In a previous life she was award-winning counter-terrorism professional. She can be contacted at ashleystahl.com.

This article first appeared at ashleystahl.com.

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