The pandemic has been a collectively traumatizing experience. As the economy reopens and businesses start to get back to the physical office, you might feel anxious or fearful. That’s a natural response during, but it’s still hard to focus on work with the looming threat of a pandemic still staring you in the face.
How can you keep calm and carry on while returning to work? Now’s the time to honor what your mind needs to feel safe. A productive, healthy work life starts with a healthy mindset.
We believe that all employees, whether going back into the office or staying at home and adjusting to the new normal, can benefit from staying mindful, positive, and productive as cities and states begin to reopen. Here are 6 tips to boost workplace confidence in a calm, orderly fashion with the power of mindfulness.
About Paul Saunders & James River Capital
Paul Saunders and his business partner acquired James River Capital in 1995, where Paul currently serves as Chairman and CEO. Through James River Capital, Paul uses his 30 years of finance experience to optimize investment returns in his financial products.
James River Capital creates and manages alternative investment products, out of its Richmond, Virginia headquarters. These alternative investments are geared toward diversification across strategies, adjusting for the market environment and for risk.
Mindfulness isn’t a cure-all, but it is definitely a good place to start for alleviating workplace fear. You might feel nervous about returning to a physical office, or encountering someone who is, or maybe you’re still working remotely, and you’ve found your focus slipping over the past two months. Whatever the challenge, mindfulness will help you not only be more productive at work, but happier and well-adjusted at home.
Mindfulness is the practice of living in the present moment. It’s about being very aware of what’s going on around you, but not approaching it with judgment. Mindfulness is about intentional awareness without the negative emotions that make us feel so frantic.
For example, when you’re are being mindful at work, you might notice the gentle clicks of your fingers on the computer keyboard, or the smell of a fresh cup of coffee. Instead of letting your mind run in ten different directions, worrying about the latest email in your inbox or about today’s meeting, you’re focused on what’s happening right now.
Mindfulness keeps your brain calm and focused by disengaging with disruptive thought patterns. And that data doesn’t lie—mindful employees are both happier and more productive at work, even in the midst of a pandemic.
- 80% of employees who practice mindfulness at work feel less stressed.
- This stress reduction leads to a slower heart rate and a boosted immune system.
- Mindful employees make better decisions because their brains are more focused on the task at hand. That means mindfulness makes you better at your job.
Mindfulness clearly has huge benefits for workplaces in a post-quarantine world. But how do employees cultivate mindfulness?
6 ways to practice mindfulness at work
- Accept what you can’t control
Everything is different right now. The kids are at home, the financial future is uncertain, and there is the ceaseless threat of the virus. There’s so much that isn’t within your realm of control right now.
Instead of fighting against it and becoming more frustrated and defeated at every turn, accept what you can’t control. You can’t make the pandemic go away, but you can control how you react to it.
If you’re despairing, focus on what you can control. James River Capital employees are encouraged to focus on the work at hand instead of panicking over the state of the world. Exercising an ounce of control in your own life can significantly help you feel less anxious.
- Create a work routine
Treat your return to the office as a chance to overhaul your work routine. Adjust your routine to include calming rituals. These might look like:
- Wiping down your workspace with a Lysol wipe so you feel a little safer at work.
- Meditating for 5 minutes before checking your email.
- Making a hot cup of green tea.
It is also recommended that you try to stick to a schedule as part of your set routine. The repetition will help you feel more productive, calm, and confident as you start the day.
- No more multitasking
It’s been proven time and time again: multitasking doesn’t work. Multitaskers take on too many tasks at once, giving 20% effort on each task instead of 100%. That will leave you feeling frantic, significantly slowing your productivity.
It is far more beneficial for you and your employer to focus on one task at a time. Use a task tracker tool like Asana or Trello to help you focus on a single task. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with your workload, take a short break or switch to a less brain-intensive task for a while.
- Set healthy boundaries
It’s easier to stay mindful if you manage your boundaries. James River Capital recommends setting healthy boundaries that protect both your work capacity and home life. If your workload is too much, ask your manager to help you prioritize certain tasks. This will help you dedicate more time to the work that matters instead of running yourself ragged on a million tasks.
James River Capital employees are also educated on the importance of psychological boundaries. Now that you’re back at the office, it’s important to leave work at work and leave home at home. That’s hard to do during a pandemic, but it’s important to take a much-needed break from work. This gives your brain time to unwind and rest.
- Do mindfulness exercises
Have you tried mindfulness exercises before? You likely won’t be able to be mindful all the time at first; it’s a practice you need to cultivate.
Practice looking at your desk without thinking or judging. What sensations do you notice? Smells? Sights? Sounds? Try this for 5 minutes multiple times a day and see how your perspective and reactions to external stimuli change.
If mindfulness exercises alone aren’t enough, try meditating. You don’t need an hourlong meditation; a 10-minute guided meditation can do wonders before work, during your lunch break, or after you get home from the office. There are handfuls of free resources you can use to help center your mind.
- Take a break from electronics
Social media, the 24/7 news cycle, and the blue light emitted by our devices aren’t great for us. That’s why James River Capital employees are encouraged to take productive breaks from their screens. That doesn’t mean looking down from your computer to your phone. It means actively avoiding all screens for a pre-determined amount of time.
Try ditching anxiety-provoking connections throughout the day, whether that means going outside without your phone during your lunch break or hosting family board game nights.
You don’t need to give up technology entirely, but consistent breaks help your brain stay mindful.
The pandemic has changed the way we do business. If you’re returning to the office and feeling anxious, you aren’t alone. Millions of people have similar concerns, and your emotions are valid in this hard time.
We can’t control our circumstances, but we can control how we react to them. Use these 6 mindfulness tips to help your mind find clarity, productivity, and happiness. Make a few small changes to your home life and work routine to feel calm during the new normal.