A mindfulness doctor reveals how to attain psychological clarity in remote work
2020 has been a tough ride. Mental wellbeing has taken quite the hammering, as more and more employees struggle to stay on top of their psychological health.
Between endless lockdowns, social isolation and the transition into the dark, cold, winter months, employers need to reach out to ensure their staff are coping at home.
HRD spoke to leading mindfulness expert Dr Cortland Dahl, chief contemplative officer at the Centre for Healthy Minds, who explained how to achieve mental clarity in remote work.
“I’m not sure there’s so much an instant secret, but the fact that well-being is a skill that can be learned is a key to supporting one’s mental health,” he told HRD.
“As I’ve been teaching and speaking to our Healthy [email protected] customers this summer, I’ve heard stories about unprecedented stress levels due to COVID-19. Many are experiencing job stress, but with additional layers of complexity such as parenting with virtual or hybrid classrooms, remote work, compromised income, illness, and more.
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“It makes sense that we are stressed. From a biological perspective, humans can’t differentiate between an emotional threat and an existential one. When we experience an emotionally stressful situation, our brain kicks into high gear–replaying it over and over again–and this loop results in thoughts and emotions that can activate the stress response in the body. This can get us stuck in a state of hyperarousal.”
And this cycle seems to be heightened in remote work set ups. According to a report from Martec Group Work, 32% of employees do not enjoy working from home and don’t believe their company is handling the pandemic well at all.
While it’s clear that most organizations are trying their best to save their company, breakdowns in communication are fairly common - which in turn leads to employee anxiety and stress. To combat this, Dr Dahl recommends practising ‘self-awareness’.
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“Self-awareness and creating a habit of some of these contemplative practices can support your well-being every day in the real world, not just on a meditation cushion,” he told HRD.
“Every day you can take a moment to cultivate your own awareness, connection, insight and purpose. Thousands of years ago, people didn’t brush their teeth every day. But now, we all start our days this way. In the same way, everyone can train their mind every day for well-being and mental clarity.
“Here’s an example, throughout the day, take three intentional breaths, with awareness, before starting a regular work task (i.e. email or logging into a zoom meeting). Just making this small effort can in the short-term, make you present and relaxed for your task, and reap rewards for your mental health in the long run.”
How are you supporting your employees working remotely? Tell us in the comments.