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Due to mounting pressure, increased competition, and the unattainable strive for perfection, heading into work every day can be a harrowing experience. In fact, according to a study done by Beyond Blue, 46% of Australians surveyed considered their workplace ‘mentally unhealthy’.
A core aspect of mindfulness or mindful practices is dispelling absent-mindedness in our day-to-day life. Absent-mindedness, in this context, doesn’t mean forgetting things - it means being distracted or disassociated from your reality in such a way that you’re not fully present in the present moment.
While this may not necessarily sound like something to be alarmed about, here are a few reasons why absent-mindedness in the workplace can lead to anxiety at work.
Absent-mindedness can lead to negative overthinking
Our minds are powerful machines. A few negative thoughts and your self-esteem, productivity, and good mood can go spiralling down at lightning speed.
When we exist solely in our heads and ruminate on things beyond our control or anything unpleasant, we tend to create situations that don’t exist or make mountains out of molehills. Especially in the workplace, this can lead to stress-induced responses to otherwise harmless stimuli, environments or behaviours.
This is especially the case if you receive a strongly-worded email, are reprimanded for something or one of your colleagues does something to upset you. If you don’t ground yourself and look past your initial reaction, you’re likely to experience high levels of anxiety at work.
It forces you to react to situations instead of responding to them
Absent-mindedness also robs you of controlling your stress and responding to stressful work situations in a way that prevents them from escalating into bigger challenges.
The fact of the matter is that at some point, something stressful is going to happen and you will have to face whatever it is. If you’re not fully grounded in your reality, you will find it difficult to respond to the actual facts at hand, and instead, will react to the facts as you perceive them to be.
Absent-mindedness is the antithesis of meaningful self-awareness
One of the most amazing things about being self-aware is the ability to understand what stresses you or makes you anxious.
Being self-aware, though, is a lifelong journey that requires you to understand who you really are - something that happens when you engage with life meaningfully and by accepting it on its own terms.
If you are absent-minded, you’re not engaging yourself meaningfully enough to understand what your stressor or stimulators are. This can lead to a complete tailspin if you’re caught unaware at work and are left feeling constantly overwhelmed, which over time can lead to anxiety at work.
If you work towards greater mindfulness and self-awareness at work, you’re able to prevent yourself from falling into familiar pitfalls and situations simply by behaving and responding in line with what’s required.
Absent-mindedness can lead to poor resilience
Being resilient refers to the quality of being able to tackle whatever life throws at you; to look adversity in the eye and welcome it like an old friend.
Absent-mindedness does the opposite - it forces you to retreat to your previous experiences, bad memories and other instances where you may not have succeeded the way you expected. It, therefore, prevents you from rising to the challenge successfully.
Poor resilience ultimately leads to anxiety at work, simply because you’re not able to get out of your head and deal with what’s at hand.
Reduce anxiety at work by improving mindfulness and overcoming absent-mindedness
Mindfulness is a powerful tool used by organisations to help their employees deal with their stress more effectively, specifically because it prevents them from ruminating about their problems.
By tuning into your environment and purposefully and non-judgmentally acknowledging the physical sensations you experience, you’re able to silence your inner critic and fully engage with your present reality.