Can Mindfulness Help You Better Handle Stress?

Julie Shenkman
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Modern administrative professionals deal with input from multiple channels simultaneously. Requests come in through text, email, instant message, social media, standard mail and in-person communications. Over time, the overload can make it seem like it's impossible to focus on a single task. Practicing mindfulness helps combat a crowded brain, making it easier to make progress on your to-do list. A few simple techniques can help you re-center and refocus.

Get Organized

Disorganization exacerbates workplace stress; without clear-cut definition, your responsibilities remain an overwhelming unknown. Start practicing mindfulness by eliminating doubt and confusion. Take 30 minutes to make a list of every outstanding task, no matter how small. Include emails and texts that require responses, lunch dates and standard daily responsibilities. Be specific, and list one action per line. "Get signature on document X," "check document X for completion" and "submit document X" are clear-cut and easier to complete than the more ambiguous "complete document X paperwork." A list helps you manage your workload, allocate time and gain a sense of accomplishment with each crossed-off item.

Change Your Scenery

When you're feeling stressed, the sights and sounds of your office can add to the mental clutter. If you feel tied to your desk, practicing mindfulness can be as simple as finding a change of scenery. Walk around the building, work remotely from a library, or simply go into a bathroom stall and close your eyes. The simple change of sensory input can bring you back to the present moment and help you re-center. If you're still consumed with work-related thoughts, try paying attention to the way your breath feels as it travels in and out of your body. This yoga technique forces you to be in the moment, at least for a short period of time.

Create Time Buffers

Administrative professionals often dash from task to task in an effort to keep up. A day of rapid-fire meetings and requests can leave you feeling overloaded and exhausted. Give your brain a break by practicing mindfulness in tiny amounts of time. Create five-minute buffers before and after meetings or large projects, and schedule one or two minutes between smaller tasks. Use the time to stop moving, think back over the just-completed task, and write down any action items. Then, let your mind move to the next task. By making time to transition, you can move on feeling confident and prepared.

Do One Thing at a Time

While it might seem productive to multitask, it's not doing any favors for your stress level. After all, your brain can focus on only one thing at a time, and constantly switching between multiple projects expends a great deal of mental energy. When you can't take a break, practicing mindfulness can be as easy as giving your full attention to each task. If you're writing a memo, close your email and silence your phone. If you're planning travel, only keep open the browser tabs that are essential to the process. With practice, you can increase focus and efficiency while minimizing the stress of multitasking.

Workplace stress is a productivity killer for admin and clerical workers. Practicing mindfulness can help you feel focused, in control and ready to tackle the day.


Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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