How Are You? Honestly?

How Are You? Honestly?

Mindfulness in the workplace plays a powerful role on how we can overcome difficult situations.

Have you ever taken a moment to imagine this; someone asks how you are and you actually replied honestly? Instead of putting on a brave smile and a facade of confidence, you respond, “Actually, I woke up this morning stifled by anxiety from the uncertainty and stress I face in my career right now. And you?”

Would they be speechless? Would they graciously excuse themselves? Or would they reciprocate with compassion and reply, “Sometimes I wake up with that feeling, too. Not only is it human, it’s just temporary.” That’s the key fact to remember; our emotions, good or bad, are just temporary. But how do we work through the “temporary” to the other side?

In May 2019, I was enrolled in a course to become a certified facilitator in mindfulness. Due to a series of events that took place over the week, the night before my final class I was so overcome with anxiety, stress, depression and doom that I couldn’t complete my homework assignment. I couldn’t stop crying. The tears were streaming down so hard that they were literally wetting the workbook I looked down at helplessly. I went to the class the next day with puffy eyes and incomplete homework. What transpired over the next several hours was nothing short of awe inspiring.

First, it’s helpful to become familiar with the meaning of mindfulness. Mindfulness is the quality of being present and fully engaged with what we’re doing at that moment. Through minimal meditation, it’s allowing oneself to be free from judgment and distraction and being aware of thoughts and feelings without getting caught up in them. When we train our minds to be present and not beholden or reactive to our thoughts, our minds are better able to work through challenging circumstances and difficult situations.

As we were being instructed on how to master mindfulness, we provided each other a safe and compassionate environment to share without judgment. We were able to share one on one and we were also given the opportunity to share as a group. Moment by moment, I began to feel lighter. Not only did I feel less alone in this big scary world, I didn’t feel alone at all. Within a few mere hours, I had harnessed my mind and dissolved the fear that had a hold on me earlier in the day.

The exterior circumstances in my life had not changed; but the power of my mindset had shifted. I was able to respond and overcome the challenges as opposed to react out of fear and hysterics. Picture what the world would look like if we all felt safe enough to be honest and we were all prepared to respond to other people’s honesty with compassion and non-judgment?

Statistics Canada reported in 2017 that 62% of the stress Canadians experience is from work. Perhaps if we all took small steps every day to take care of each other, we will create the sweeping change necessary to create a mentally healthier workplace for our future generations.

Rachel Dodds is a psychological health and safety in the workplace consultant with Versify Group.