In an earlier article I offered some tips for making work-from-home work well for you. Here is one more tip. Make use of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction.
A year ago I noticed a very slight tinnitus (Wikipedia article). Very very faint, not enough to interfere with anything in daily function, but it was ever so slightly noticeable if I happened to be in a very quiet place. The audiologist suggested I try MBSR (Wikipedia article). This is an eight-week program in which you attend eight or so once-a-week classes of a dozen or so people, doing relaxation exercises and talking through ways to be more “mindful”. There is also a weekend session that lasts of most of a day. About a year ago I attended such a program, provided by my firm’s health insurance company, and I received my MBSR diploma.
What you would be very interested to learn is that robust scientific studies have been done that show that people who go through MBSR training end up with objectively measurable benefits like lower blood glucose, lower blood pressure, and more hours of sleep at night. The health insurance company that my firm provides to my employees (Kaiser Permanente) did its own study and found that it does not need to spend as much money on its insureds to keep them healthy if they have been through MBSR training. So no big surprise here, KP provides MBSR as a subsidized program to its insureds.
Did it make any difference with my very slight tinnitus? No, not that I could notice. Rats! I gave 22 hours of my life to a bunch of touchy-feely stuff with no benefit? No! I feel it was very much time well spent. I find that if I do one of the MBSR breathing exercises before I get on the phone with some annoying company like a bank, I finish the call in a less stressed condition. It may sound like I am making a joke but I am deadly serious, it really makes a difference for me. I also get better sleep at night nowadays.
If you are more “mindful”, your immune system will work better. Do I need to say more, during these difficult times?
I feel strongly enough about this that our firm policy is, for any employee who can produce an MBSR diploma, we reimburse them for the fee that they paid to attend their MBSR program.
My main point here being that if you have already been through an MBSR program, use your MBSR exercises to help you through these difficult times.
The problem with my bringing this up now is that you won’t be able to enroll in an MBSR program now. They are all cancelled. So what good is my suggestion? Well, you can go on the Internet and you can read about the various exercises. There are books you can buy that try to help you do this. Try them out as best you can. There are online recorded audio programs to talk you through some of the exercises.
Or just steal a few moments here and there to “be mindful”. Oversimplifying it a bit, the idea of MBSR is to give your conscious mind permission to go for at least a few minutes, every now and then, without thinking about anything that happened in the past or anything that might happen in the future. If you can steal a few moments for this every now and then, I promise you will feel better about yourself.
For many of us the paradigm that we imagine is a person doing a very formal “meditation” activity, maybe in a darkened room and maybe with incense burning. What people who have been through MBSR training find is that they can be “in the moment” while simply walking along a path or sidewalk outdoors.
I recommend it. I recommend it very much. Especially to help you get through all of this work-from-home stuff.
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