Bringing Mindfulness to the Workplace

By Debbie Clolinger, M.Ed

One of the things I absolutely love about our PRCA Mobile Chapter is the wealth of knowledge and experience our members possess. I always get super-charged when talking about PRCA Mobile to others in that among the many professional organizations I’ve been associated with this one by far has offered more networking opportunities and career advancement.

I have found our chapter’s professional education to be superior. Lots of thought, time and attention has gone into providing members with learning sessions, whether it’s through our monthly lunch meetings (pre-COVID in person or online), panel speakers, and our annual Toolkit.

While the primary focus has been on technical tools and skills to make our jobs easier, there is one area I’d like to throw into the mix that has helped me professionally and personally. It’s called mindfulness.

Not too long ago I was assigned to write social media content and blogs for a client who was a life coach. I read her old blogs, links to professional sites, to become familiar with the field and the services she provided. A lot of her suggestions and advice resonated with me.

Now I know the concept of mindfulness is not new or unique. The art and skill of harnessing mindfulness has been around since the 1970’s and introduced to the U.S. in the 1990’s. There are a gazillion articles, podcasts, and apps to help us learn how to be more mindful; I’ll suggest a few in a minute.

But before I continue, let’s be clear about what mindfulness is, and how we can use it not only in our personal lives but incorporate it into the workplace as well.

Psychology Today defines mindfulness as “a state of active, open attention to the present. This state is described as observing one’s thoughts and feelings without judging them as good or bad.”

The nice thing about mindfulness is not only can it help address stressful things you are experiencing but it can be used for happy, joyful and positive things happening at work or home as well.

So, can you be mindful in the middle of something intense, like a crisis situation at work? Maybe. I’ve been through a few situations and remember thinking “this is pretty intense” or “I’m really feeling anxious right now”. I was in the moment with those thoughts, but it was only afterwards that mindfulness helped me regain focus and balance.

I’m not a psychologist, nor do I play one on T.V., but when faced with some issue that throws me off, I try to find a few minutes to myself and use imagery to clear my mind. One “image” I use is throwing issues onto a whiteboard, then taking an eraser in my hand and wiping the board clean. For you it could be throwing stressful things onto the sand at the beach and watching the waves wash them away. The important thing is finding out what works for you. The point is to clear your mind so that your brain can engage its wonderful problem-solving mehanisms.

You may already have downloaded apps like Calm or Breethe for meditation and inner wellness to your cell phone or Ipad, but click on these hyperlinks for other apps that can help you reach mindfulness during a crisis, for stress management and focus, or to reduce anxiety and cultivate positive emotions.

I mentioned earlier that mindfulness can also be used when good things happen. Did all that hard work you put into a client’s advertising campaign bring good results and accolades? Take a quiet moment to acknowledge that – “I did something that resulted in positive results for my client, and for my business, and I’m proud.” Bask in the moment, and put it away. You can recall it, and all the good vibes that came along, during those times or days of doubting yourself, and acknowledge that you are indeed worthy and valuable.

I hate using the overused term “living in the moment”, but that kind of sums up what mindfulness is. Whether you train yourself to be aware of your inner workings during times of tension, stress, joy, or celebration, mindfulness helps you appreciate and validate your humanness.

Let’s face it…you bring your talent, skills, and experience to work every day. Though we strive to be our best selves, there will be times we need a little boost. We’re only human, but perhaps through mindfulness we can be more balanced in an unbalanced world.

(Debbie Clolinger, M.Ed., has been in the marketing and public relations field for 16 years. She also leads seminars and workshops on communications skills and stress management.)