Brenna Isaacson is a Marketing Manager from the San Francisco office who works primarily with the BPI solution. She recently started a monthly mindfulness session in her office to help combat the mental health struggles she and others face, especially during this prolonged pandemic time. Read on to find out how Brenna started her mindfulness journey and find tips on how you can do the same!
On March 5, 2021, I joined my Protiviti colleagues for Employee Appreciation Day: A Day of Well-Being. It was bittersweet because while I loved all the sessions I attended, I knew that my own self-care and well-being had slipped during the pandemic. I was inspired when I learned that the meditation I attended was led by a Protiviti colleague, Natasha. I loved Natasha’s calm and welcoming demeanor; meditation had never felt so approachable. I wanted to follow her footsteps and create a safe and welcoming place for other mindfulness practices.
This is what inspired me to initiate a mindful monthly journaling session for our Bay Area office through iCare.
My first session was held in April, and through the monthly sessions that followed, a “mindfulness committee” was created. Together, we are finding ways to help our Bay Area colleagues discover mindfulness and make it easier to incorporate the practice into their everyday lives.
While we continue with the monthly journaling, we’re also introducing new ways to engage with those who cannot attend a session. We sent a “seasonal weekly mindfulness tips” in our office “water cooler” site in which we highlight summer wellness, and we will continue this in November by partnering with the local Green Team to share tips for wellness and sustainability during the holidays (something I’m sure we all need gentle reminders about).
How to Start a Mindful Journaling Practice –
Once a month our attendees join us on a Teams call for a judgment-free, customizable journaling session, led by a member of the mindfulness committee with accompanying slides. We encourage our attendees to participate in a way that feels right for them. Not interested in going on-camera? No problem – most don’t. Only want to join for 5 minutes of journaling? Whatever works for you. This is your time, we’re simply here to help guide you.
Starting with a mantra allows us to break the thoughts of our everyday lives and provides us a place to focus. Whether during our practice or throughout the day, having a mantra can help center us and stop the cycle of overwhelming thoughts.
Right now, I feel…
We start and end every session with a check-in. Name your feelings: take a breath and write feelings, no need to justify or defend, this is just for you and it’s only 30 seconds. I encourage people to do this during any point of your life.
Stretch it out
We spend all day on our computers, and in my case, hunched over. A quick five-minute guided stretch helps us refresh. We get up from our chairs, shake out our limbs, do a few stretches and just that little bit helps us shift our focus. Do this anytime during the day to help give you a boost of energy.
Quick gratitude check
This is a one-minute gratitude check. I ask that people to avoid vague ideas like “my health, my family” – and encourage them, instead, to name somebody or something specific and give one quick reason. “I’m grateful for my husband because he made that amazing dinner last night.”
Yes, a 15-minute daily gratitude practice is fantastic and has been proven to boost your mood, but this practice is about finding tools that work for us in our busy days. A quick gratitude moment is do-able anywhere. So, when the woman in front of you at Trader Joe’s has more than 15 items and plans to pay with nickels, instead of getting annoyed, do a “quick gratitude” – “I am grateful for these oranges, because they keep away the scurvy.” It might seem silly but the more minutes I’m spending naming gratitude, the fewer minutes I’m focused on external stressors.
Note: Constantly being positive or telling others “Just be grateful” is toxic positivity. We need to allow ourselves to balance both positive and negative feelings. The quick gratitude is simply a tool to help us cope in the moment and we use other tools like journaling, meditation, and counseling to glean insights into all our complex emotions.
Write it out
The main event: journaling. Every month we offer four prompts that align with Protiviti’s values and goals. For example, we journaled about being a better ally and making safe spaces for ourselves and others in June while Protiviti was holding AAPI, Juneteenth, and Pride discussions around the world. And in August we checked-in with our personal goals while Protiviti had career check-ins.
We remind our attendees to write whatever feels right to them. If none of the prompts are clicking, we encourage them to write more gratitude or simply write their stream of thought; it helps to clear the clutter in our heads.
I also encourage people to focus on the prompts that relate to them. Currently, I’m trying to reenergize my sustainable side, the one that used to run the Green Team. So, if the prompt is “Write five things that bring you joy and why”, I write about the joyful aspects of sustainability. “Buying local brings me joy because I’m helping the local economy and decreasing my carbon footprint.
Start A Program!
We’ve found our practice to be helpful in our everyday lives – and in our work practice here at Protiviti. Organizing and hosting a monthly series like ours takes minimal effort but has a positive impact. Follow the guidelines we’ve outlined here or connect with me to learn more! You can find me, Brenna Isaacson, on LinkedIn.
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