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[Workplace Wellness] Mindfulness for Turning off 'Autopilot'

Hello WellMi Family!

As promised, here is the mindfulness exercise for turning off 'Autopilot' that we didn't get to last week at our Weekly Wellness Meet-up! If you have any questions or comments let us know!

Workplace stress may seem like an inevitable downside of joining any organization, but there are ways we can battle it from the inside. Of course, we often can't make waves, let alone changes, in our workplace - even less so in our culture. But what we can do is build our own defenses by becoming more resilient, poised, mindful and ultimately less stressed in the workplace (even if it feels like an impossible dream at the moment). Turning off autopilot - the brain's natural tendency to drift off or tune out, while the body continues to respond - is the first step in becoming more mindful, to help manage our emotional responses.

Here we've broken down one of our exercises to help you intercept autopilot and take control of your wellbeing.

Mindfulness for turning off autopilot (at work, and in life)

-Write down 1 thing that stresses you about work (there may be a few, repeat as needed)

-Be specific, details details details

-Think about how you react in those situations, emotions, reactions, words, feelings

-Write them down, too

-Close your eyes and visualize the stressful situation. See faces, colors, furniture, and see yourself reacting as you normally would. This is your AWARENESS phase.

Now you've brought awareness to that particular situation. That's the first important step! Good job!

-Now think of how we can interrupt that automatic pilot/automatic reaction.

- We know the situation, and how we normally react, so now we need to include an intervention to the situation. How can we intervene here, before we blow up/cry/panic etc?


Deep Breathing, simply recognizing the situation out loud, a big wide smile, mantra (I am calm, I'm remaining calm), physical action (tapping the fingers etc)…Or something else that might work for you. Choose one thing. Let's use 5 deep breaths, for now.


-Visualize the moments before the stressful situation. You're there, taking 5 deep breaths, in full awareness of the situation you're about to move into. You're calm, breathing deeply, anticipating. But you're not worried about the situation. You're prepared to face it.

-Now actually take those 5 deep breaths, and visualize the situation again.

- See yourself in the situation, but this time you’re unaffected. You're totally in control. Utilizing your intervention to block the autopilot reaction. Inhaling, and exhaling. This is your REHEARSAL phase.

Here's the tough part…EXECUTION


-Get into work, sit down for 3 minutes, go through the visualization. If you need to do this before you get into work, do it on the subway, or in the car. Visualize yourself in the stressful situation, but calm, cool as a cucumber, and in control.

- Next time you anticipate finding yourself in that situation, go through your intervention (AWARENESS. REHEARSAL. EXECUTION - A.R.E) and you’ll be in a space to practice turning off the autopilot reaction when you encounter the stressful situation for real.

NB. When this situation arises as per your anticipation, you've already gone through the steps to prepare yourself. If this stressful situ arises unexpectedly, we'll say it again; DON'T PANIC. You weren't prepared, but you DO have an intervention, and you can deploy it anytime!

- Take those 5 deep breaths, say the mantra in your head, tap your fingers. You might be caught off guard, but you've prepared for this. Life is keeping you on your toes! You're gonna get through it.

Getting it spot on the first time would be great, right!? But remember, this is a process of progress, so give yourself Kudos for the little wins!

Practice makes progress ;)

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