One of my readers, let's call her Ann, emailed me about her "perfect storm of change."
She wrote about changes at work: regular messages on the intranet announcing "more change, more people losing their jobs, more of the surviving jobs being made unmanageable, more service being eroded, more things I value being destroyed ...."
She wrote about "a complete restructuring (closing clinics, merging departments and changing processes) so nobody knows who does what, or where to get support."
With the increased pressure on "survivors," Ann often feels overwhelmed by the floods of emails, many of which asking for even more of her time.
Ann is taking redundancy, which after all this is something of a relief - but still "sad and terrifying."
Then she wrote about her personal life too. She wrote about her Mum dying, clearing the house and going through generations of documents and collections. She described how the wider family relationships are changing now that her Mum isn't at the centre of all those networks.
Ann has been practising Mindfulness since 2013. How did it help her handle this "perfect storm of change?"
Finding Peace in Breathing
Ann finds "a lot of peace in the simple breathing exercises - feeling my back muscles drawing the breath and the feeling of the air entering my nose and into my lungs and letting the process continue as it always does. Even just a minute on a train or in the office is really centering and restful."
Opening up Space
When it "seems like everything is spinning out of control," Ann brings her awareness back to the place where her feet touch the ground. That opens up "a space between perceiving, feeling and reacting" - so she can choose a wise response to challenging situations (rather than just reacting in a way she'll regret later.)
When she sees another of those messages on the company intranet announcing more change, job losses, cuts and general erosion of things she values, Ann notices the sudden flash of anger, and how it captures her instantly. But she finds that just by pausing and watching her breath rise and fall, she can open up space around the news and her reaction. That allows her to choose not to dwell on the message, or get into angry and destructive conversations with colleagues. Guiding her attention wisely in this way helps conserve her energy, so she's got more energy left for things that she can do something about.
Letting go of Stress-Inducing Thoughts
Mindfulness has helped her see how she was adding to her own stress unnecessarily. In fact, she said that just writing to me made her realise "how much stress I was creating for myself by trying to control things in the future rather than focus on what is actually present."
She uses these techniques every day, at least once, so they are now "a part of what I do, or who I am," and that's made it increasingly easy to reach out for them.
Ann has been practising what I call "Resilient Mindfulness" - mindfulness that's sufficiently resilient to function in the midst of intense pressures at work, that helps her to be resilient in the face of those pressures. It's especially designed for people, like Ann, facing constant ongoing change. You can find more details about Resilient Mindfulness training here.