We're coming to the end of stress awareness month for 2019. It's important to think ahead for what we can all do to reduce the stress and pressure we put on ourselves at home and at work. Our Artistic Director/CEO Sita Brand has taught mindfulness and meditation in schools, libraries, theatres, arts organisations and prisons. She says that Settle Stories is the happiest place she's ever worked in and aims to make it "a place to get rich in your soul."
Meditation: Meditation is a practice where an individual uses a technique – such as mindfulness, or focusing their mind on a particular object, thought or activity – to train attention and awareness, and achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm and stable state.
Mindfulness: Mindfulness is the psychological process of bringing one's attention to experiences occurring in the present moment, which one can develop through the practice of meditation and through other training.
Here’s what Sita shared when quizzed on relieving stress in the workplace.
How do you start the day?
The most important thing, in work or in your personal life, is too give your real presence wherever you are. We all do ten minutes of meditation when we arrive. This allows us to leave behind the stresses of the morning and focus primarily on the here and now. We put away any issues from home and our journey into work and clear our minds to start the day afresh.
How can we create a stress-free working environment?
When we consciously practise mindfulness we become more mindful in how we are expressing ourselves. Noone is perfect and everyone gets stressed. But when people feel supported both professionally and personally, it creates a happy working environment. When people feel more comfortable expressing themselves they can grow and learn. It makes work less stressful as we share our issues and look to resolve them together. From a business point of view this has a fantastic impact as people consistently apply themselves more when they feel appreciated and supported.
How can people work as a team to avoid stress?
Any work environment is the sum of who is there. There are always hairy times with any team of staff. When people can’t share their issues or worries then they get very stressed and isolated. It’s important to be supportive of each other when things go wrong and to give people the benefit of the doubt. So often at work people feel bullied and silenced and unappreciated, I strive to make the environment one in which people feel nurtured. It’s important to me that people don’t just feel ‘not bullied’ but feel that they are safe to express themselves and grow with the organisation.
For me, this is the happiest place I’ve worked in. In my first job as an apprentice I felt I couldn’t acknowledge my mistakes or ask for help. If I thought people felt too nervous to speak up at Settle Stories, I’d feel like I’d failed in what we’re trying to do here. It’s so important to create an environment where people feel able to speak up if they’re worried or stressed.
It’s easy to get caught up and lost in it all, especially when managing various projects at once. Although it can be difficult to abide by all mindfulness ways, here are some practical tips Sita had to use throughout the working day:
Start meetings with a brief, shared silence and guided breath
When the phone rings, everyone should take three deep breaths before it is answered. This can act as a bell of mindfulness, you get the pause and take a few seconds for yourself
Start all meetings with your successes. This is very important and easy to stick to. Always discuss the successes before the challenges and celebrate the outcomes of hard work.
One 2 Ones are very useful to go through concerns in a safe space. It’s a good opportunity to speak your mind and see what you can learn from
- When possible end the day with a few minutes of meditation together. This is to acknowledge the working day is finished. You can leave the stresses behind and move onto other things.
Stress Awareness Month has been held every April since 1992 to increase public awareness about both the causes and cures for our modern stress epidemic. Sometimes ten minutes of meditation doesn’t quite hit the spot - it’s important to take some real time out for yourself.
Sita is running two retreats this year. We have The Conference of the Birds in August and Creative Writing and Mindfulness in October. Both retreats give you opportunity to take a break from the hussle-bussle of everyday life and to be mindful both personally and creatively.
Find out more information about both here.