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Learn & Practice

Workplace Wednesday: Mindfulness for Difficult Work Situations

By The Healthy Minds Team

In this week’s Workplace Wednesday we explore practicing Mindfulness during challenging workplace scenarios.

Photo by Wes Hicks on Unsplash

Whether it’s related to the financial challenges many organizations are facing during Covid-19, or just the regular ups and downs of interpersonal relationships in a workplace, sometimes work forces you to engage with complex, often difficult situations. In these situations, often our instinct is to avoid confrontation. For example, receiving or giving feedback, confronting a peer about a conflict on a project, or even asking a supervisor for time off can elicit feelings of stress and sometimes, full blown anxiety.

But what if you approached these situations with mindfulness instead of avoidance and dread? Practicing mindfulness in difficult situations is the most challenging part of the practice, but also the most rewarding.

The approach is pretty much the same.

How to Practice:

Take a moment to think about an upcoming workplace situation that you find challenging – something you’re likely to encounter in the next day or two. (Note: when you start, it’s easier to not pick the most difficult thing in your life, but something you find mildly annoying.)

Pick one thing that you don’t really want to do. 

Now, form a clear intention to use this upcoming challenge as an opportunity to practice mindfulness. Think about where you’ll be and what you’ll be doing when the situation happens. 

Think about what you can do with your mind when you’ll be in the situation. For example, can you bring awareness to the breath or become aware of sensations in your body?

As you go about your day, remind yourself of this intention in the hours leading up to the challenge. And when the moment comes, do your best to maintain a sense of mindfulness throughout the activity. This will keep you calm and in touch with your emotions during a stressful moment.

How & Why to Try This:

This is a perfect practice for just before receiving feedback in a review, or just before delivering challenging feedback in a review. Or, you can use this technique before a meeting with someone you find difficult, or before you write a controversial email. Either way, instead of avoiding the situation, tune in to your mindfulness instead, and make it a practice.

Sometimes you don’t have to carve out 20 minutes of seated meditation to manage your emotions. In this case, you are training your mind to use the techniques with which you are already skilled – to face the moment in real time.

So next time you have a sense of dread, or find yourself putting off a difficult workplace conversation, try to use it as an opportunity for a mindfulness practice instead. That way, you’re doing something positive and supporting your own well-being despite the challenge.

Learn more about how the Healthy Minds Framework can support your workplace well-being with Healthy Minds @Work or signing up for our Healthy Minds @Work Public MasterClass.

HM@Work Meditations Workplace Wednesdays