How to become zen and happier at work

If you’ve been told to return to the office after working remotely for more than two years, it could be jarring news for you.

To help you cope and manage the abrupt changes in your lifestyle, here are some Zen tips for getting used to being back in an office environment.

Since it is a fresh start, you need to develop a beginner’s mindset. This requires perceiving each new experience without preconceived notions. Accept the new environment, welcome the changes, and embrace the newness of the situation. It may not be easy for you, as you may feel that your life has changed.

The workplace has changed dramatically since the days of the Great Resignation. For hundreds of thousands of people, 2023 hasn’t been too good. Layoffs, hiring freezes, a white-collar “rich session,” a potential economic downturn, concerns about inflation and the high costs of everything have stoked Americans’ anxiety and stress levels.

There are real problems to deal with. For those who enjoyed working remotely or hybridly, bosses are now telling them to come back to the office. Some people moved to lower cost places to buy more affordable homes with lower taxes and good public schools. Now, they’re in a bind. Do they sell their house, potentially incurring a financial loss, and buy another place with a much higher interest rate to be closer to work, or quit and start looking for a new job?

What is Zen?

Zen emanated from Mahayana Buddhism in China during the Tang dynasty and spread rapidly throughout Asia. Zen practice requires being in the present moment. This can be achieved by practicing meditation and mindfulness: an awareness of your thoughts in the moment, in harmony with your inner feelings and the environment around you.

Daily Zen practice includes focusing on simplicity and achieving a state of calmness and attention to the environment. Practitioners of Zen Buddhism seek to achieve a high level of enlightenment through meditation and insight, rather than relying on conscious efforts. A helpful way to relax and de-stress with Zen is to do deep breathing exercises. It involves taking a deep breath through the nostrils for a count of about four beats, holding the breath for a few moments, and then slowly releasing it. Repeating these steps several times will result in a calming effect, and the practice will recalibrate your mind so that it stops wandering and ruminating on negative thoughts.

Adopt a zen mindset and put it into practice

It may be time to try something different if you are feeling agitated, irritated, angry, and unhappy. Instead of eating fattening comfort foods, drinking alcohol, or taking drugs to disengage from your daily routine, a zen mindset will help without the need for harmful habits.

Consider adopting some Zen techniques to help you feel better about being in the office. You’ll still have to travel and deal with a micro-managing boss and annoying co-workers, but Zen will provide you with the tools to help you keep your sanity.

Set an intention for what you want to do and accomplish for the day. This will help you stay on task and stay focused and motivated. Reframe your responsibilities so they feel more purposeful and meaningful. It will make you feel attentive, engaged and happier.

Try to start your day with positive thoughts. Instead of reaching for your phone when you wake up, meditate and do some deep breathing exercises for a few minutes. Practice will put you in a good mindset.

Take it easy and set achievable goals. Focus on each piece of work while simultaneously blocking out all extraneous thoughts that only serve as a distraction. Just pay attention to each specific task you’re working on and avoid getting overwhelmed by the enormity of the big goal your boss has set for you.

Take care of yourself mentally, physically and emotionally

Schedule micro-breaks throughout the day to clear your mind and help your body. Get used to getting up from your uncomfortable chair. Stretch, do some yoga poses, walk around the office, get outside and get some fresh air and sunshine.

Once you’re back at the office, eating healthy becomes expensive and difficult. Try to find ways to eat well while surrounded by a fast food culture. Stop staying up late at night, binge-watching Netflix, or doomscrolling on your phone. You want to get enough sleep to feel refreshed in the morning.

Try to think less and act more. We all overanalyze things in our minds. It’s easy to fall into a pessimistic “what if” pattern, obsessed with the myriad of bad things that can happen. Then you get stressed, which leads you to be unfocused, irritated and moody.

Mood affects the people around you. Negative actions reap unwanted results. When this happens, no matter how much you meditate, accept what happened, stop the fall, and start again.

Small incremental changes can positively alter your mood. It will also help cheer up the people around you. Bring plants into the office, spruce up your workspace with warm colors, or lean a space close to natural light. Stay in tune with your biorhythms, as people thrive working at different times. Listen to music that makes you happy and makes you feel good. Once you’re in the office, make the most of it by making new friends and acquaintances.

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