Alone at work? Maybe it's time to listen.
Originally I was invited by Scott Olster, the editor on the LinkedIn News team to write about feeling #aloneatwork. This is the (hopefully practical) article I wrote in response:
Loneliness at work is a growing health and well-being issue for many people in these unusual times. What if I told you trying to escape or fix your feelings of loneliness was only making it worse?
Here's a quick practice that might help:
Firstly notice the thoughts you're having around being on your own and instead of buying into them, or trying to push them away and ignore them, you try a practice called 'Naming and Taming'. It might sound something like this: "Ah, here comes that thought and feeling again about how I miss the old work environment, the social life- let's name that feeling sad" or "I see where my head is- in anxious thoughts about the future, right, let's name that worry." In this way you step back from the stream of thoughts and become aware of them- without judging them. And instead of "I am anxious" or "I am sad" it becomes "There is anxiety/sadness here." In this way we gain perspective and recognise this is a passing experience that will change.
We can then notice how that turns up in the body- sadness often appears as heaviness in the chest or belly, whilst anxiety might be a tightness in the jaw, tight stomach or back for example. And why is the body doing this? Because it's getting itself ready- it feels under threat so it's ready to fight or flight. But run where? Fight what? It's a survival mechanism that isn't really necessary sitting in the home office.
So often we want to fight or fix our state when we feel off balance- but mindfulness invites you to consider a third option- to sit with it. "What you resist- persists" as the saying goes. So why not try embracing the momentary experience and look after yourself in a moment of feeling lonely. Try helping the body calm down and feel safe again, by placing a hand on the chest or belly and imagine breathing deeply into the space below your hand. Sitting with the experience in this way just as one might sit with a sad or anxious child. We're not trying to fix anything here- we're trying to stay completely present- and listen. And with some kind and patient attention often feelings resolve themselves.
But these sensations in the body are there to tell you something. They are an invitation to wake up to the moment and see what you need. Maybe it's a call to take time out and go for a walk around the block, or find a way to connect and share with a friend or colleague. Being alone is a neutral situation (think of how you may once have craved a bit of alone time!), but feeling lonely- well, that's a negative story you're telling yourself about the situation. The good news is you have the ability to help yourself- if you just can take time out and listen.
If you're interested in finding out more I offer drop-in online sessions every Sunday at 10am (CET). More info here: https://lnkd.in/dpK_hgZ