Being a Connected and Grounded Person at Work
We live in an era of unprecedented comfort, technology, and luxury. 40 years ago if you could speak to anyone and access any information using a tiny device, you would be considered a wizard. Today, we take this for granted.
More people have their basic needs covered than any point in history. Most of us no longer have to worry about starvation, plague, pestilence or violence.
Paradoxically, this is also the age of unparalleled stress. A lot of us are increasingly feeling disassociated and losing grip on our lives. Our attention spans are dropping and minds are getting consumed by feelings of restlessness and anxiety. This has left us feeling ungrounded and not whole.
In this post, we’ll talk about feeling grounded, specifically at work.
Being grounded means feeling invested, fulfilled and finding meaning in your work. It means you are emotionally balanced and comfortable in your own skin. Being grounded allows you to be in the moment and treat each situation on its merit.
While it’s normal to experience phases of being ungrounded, a sustained and prolonged experience can severely damage your overall wellbeing. We often ignore early signs of impending ungroundedness and wait for a meltdown to finally take action.
Two signs that you aren’t feeling grounded at work
1. Escapism takes over your life
Freud considered escapism to be a necessary element of human experience. We all need a bit of escapism in our lives. Like sleep resets our body clock, it helps reset our mind. Escapism is the tendency to seek distraction from the real world and we all crave it in different ways.
However, when escapism becomes the center of our lives, it’s an early sign of being ungrounded. When we wake up and start thinking about which place to have beers after work, which movie to watch in the evening or start planning our work between our cigarette breaks; it means we aren’t 100% present at work.
2. You’re usually irritable at work
Are you more irritable at work than outside of it? Is being annoyed your first reaction to any goof-up? Do you actively avoid social interactions at work?
When faced with a challenge, our mind is at peace only when it reacts consistently with its fight or flight reflexes. This is a result of millions of years of evolution. However modern workplace puts us in various situations when we can’t afford either of the extreme measures. This results in irritable behavior and anxiety. If left unchecked, this can even result in more serious problems such as clinical depression.
5 tips to be grounded at work?
- Practice focusing on your breath
Nothing reminds us of the present than a few seconds of breath. There are various tried and tested breathing exercises that considerably reduce stress at work. However, even something as simple as taking long deep breaths will create a sense of being grounded in your body. Appreciating the power of your own breath is a way of acknowledging the present moment. As you get more oxygen in your bloodstream you will feel more aware, alert and grounded.
- Practice listening
The key to feeling connected and grounded is being present in the moment. Nothing sets the stage better than being a good listener.
Usually, we listen to retort. Before someone has stopped talking, our mind starts working on a reply. Leslie Shore in her book Listen to Succeed writes, “When we begin working on a reply before the speaker is finished, we lose both the complete information being offered and an understanding of the kind of emotion present in the speaker’s delivery,”
I remember how I felt when I heard this tip for the first time. If we give unwavering attention to listening, how would we get the time to think of our response? Fortunately, the human mind doesn’t work like that. When you listen better, your response will get more measured without putting in any extra effort.
- Take responsibility
You can’t feel grounded at work if your job seems futile and devoid of purpose. Canadian author Jordan Petersen in his book 12 Rules of Life, states that responsibility is essential to meaning in life.
Often we treat the word “responsibility” with similar connotations as ‘“liability”. It evokes feelings of burden and pressure. However, it’s what gives meaning to our work. Any job without concrete responsibilities will disillusion you sooner than later.
At work, ask yourself this question everyday – If I disappear overnight, what difference would it make to my team? If the answer is no, talk to your manager about it. Volunteer for projects that excite you.
- Help your colleagues
There are various tangible benefits of helping your colleagues – better relationships, career progression, increased confidence and communication skills. However, we won’t get into any of them.
Help your colleagues whenever possible, without anticipating any immediate or long-term rewards. When you do so without any expectations, you will neither be underwhelmed nor excited by the outcomes. Various studies state that helping colleagues is good for your health. It de-stresses you and gives a sense of accomplishment – both are vital ingredients for feeling rooted at work.
- Work out regularly
I bet you knew this was coming. Seems like no personal development post can be without mentioning physical exercise. Well, that just shows how important it is.
The most common excuse for not working out is “I don’t have the time.” As HBR mentions in their blog, while this seems like a genuine excuse, it stems from the fact that exercise is a personal indulgence that takes time away from work. Exercise is part of your work. Nothing has a more direct and enduring impact on your performance than your physical health.
Regular exercise improves your cognitive abilities and improves focus at work. It doesn’t mean pumping iron at the gym or hitting the treadmill. It simply means dedicating at least an hour every day to any physical activity that you enjoy.
- Get a hobby
Earlier, we briefly discussed escapism and its importance in recharging our batteries. Hobbies are a great alternative to escapist tendencies. They offer the same benefits without much of their limitations.
Hobbies make you more focused at work. While they can’t entirely replace the need for entertainment, they definitely reduce your reliance on escapism. What makes them different is that they inculcate new skills and boost your overall motivation.
A couple of years ago, I realized that I was spending too much time on after-work beers. While that was a great way to unwind and forge relationships in the office, a gradual discontent started brewing. My energy levels at work were taking a hit and suddenly despite everything going smoothly, I started losing my motivation at work. To make matters worse, I couldn’t put a finger on what exactly was wrong. I loved my job and life away from it.
Eventually, I realized that this feeling of being ungrounded was a result of me not spending enough time on productive activities outside of work. So, I started dedicating at least an hour every day to read for pleasure, something I used to enjoy. It worked like magic. Within weeks, my interest was renewed and I realized I could focus for longer hours than before.
- Meditate at least 15 minutes every day
Before I discuss meditation, I must confess my aversion for spiritual hodgepodge and new age yogis. Perhaps that’s what always kept me an arm’s distance away from meditation or anything remotely related to it.
It was eye-opening when I finally started learning about the scientific benefits of meditation. Mediation doesn’t have to be sitting still on Yoga mats. It can be something a lot more simple, yet profound. Dedicate at least 15 minutes every day to simply observe the world around you. It can be going for a walk and paying attention to the movement on the streets, eating a sandwich and paying attention to all your senses while you do so. Once you get used to it, you can try meditation courses online. There are also a number of great meditation applications on the app store.
Meditation’s benefits at work are immense. It practically helps solve almost all the root causes of ungrounded behavior (stress, anxiety) and helps develop longer hours of focus..