Many of us now work from home.
How are you feeling?
Brendan Stitchman, Manager of Leadership and Organizational Development at Traction on Demand, says whether you think of yourself as an extrovert or introvert, it’s been a challenging time for all since we’re social animals by nature.
Brendan, a certified counsellor and former director at Rhodes Wellness College, explains, “I think it’s taken a toll on people, especially if they’ve had to isolate (in addition to working from home). It’s been super challenging not to have that connection to other people.” Additionally, Brendan says not being able to do some of our favourite activities has gotten in the way of connecting to ourselves.
“Social isolation is now the leading self-reported stressor having a negative impact on mental health.”Mental Health Research Canada
With this in mind, Brendan shares some tips for practicing mindfulness when working from home.
Acknowledge how you’re feeling
As a counsellor specializing in wellness, Brendan is the go-to person at Traction on Demand for matters of physical and mental health.
“There’s a lot of concern about the unknown, so I hear people out and normalize what they’re going through.”Brendan Stitchman, Manager of Leadership and Organizational Development, Traction on Demand
And for anyone who has dealt with anxiety (*puts hand up*) you know that worrying about things you can’t control is a downward spiral to feeling even worse. But friends! There is something we can do about it! It starts with putting down whatever we’re doing and taking a deep breath.
Traction on Demand uses bettr.me to monitor the wellness sentiment of its people. Team leads can refer to the data and reach out to those colleagues who may be having a rough week.
Just get started
Even though I’ve been researching the topic of mindfulness for personal interest for years now, I still have a certain vision of what it looks like. More truthfully, what I feel it should look like in order for me to truly reap the benefits. But Brendan disagrees.
“It doesn’t have to be a big production,” says Brendan. “It can be practiced anytime anywhere. You might need a quiet area at first. Just sit there, breathing. How does it feel? Tap into your senses. Calm the chatter in your head. Acknowledge those voices but focus on the moment.”
“There are mindful practices for eating. How does your food taste? Does it taste different in different parts of your mouth? You can also practice mindful walking. What are you hearing? What are you smelling?”
“Being outside is the best activity to support positive mental health… The impact is significantly more positive than physical activity and a number of indoor activities including reading and entertainment.”Mental Health Research Canada
Try this mindfulness exercise
Once you’ve taken some baby steps, you can move on to other exercises. Brendan shares the act of drinking coffee as an example of one.
“I think: how does it taste? How does it feel in my mouth? How does it make ME feel? Where does it come from? Someone had to package and load it. They might be having their own struggles working to feed their children. It makes me think maybe what I’m feeling right now isn’t such a big deal when I’m thinking of the big picture.” But Brendan is quick to add that this practice isn’t meant to negate any bad feelings, it just helps put things into perspective.
Throughout all this, don’t forget to be kind to yourself. Even Brendan admits that it took a while to get into the habit of practicing mindfulness. “The chatter is not going to be gone overnight. It comes and goes in waves and I forget about it sometimes. Just be gentle and try it out. Sometimes I need to lose my mind to come to my senses,” he says, explaining that you might need to tackle your monkey mind first before you can get into the moment.
With that being said, I think I’ll stop here and take a little breather. And I think you should too.
Altogether now, let’s take a deep breath in… and a deep breath out…
Take it easy for now.