Psychology in Practice Co-Founder Mary Rose Gatt on Monday highlighted that acting mindfully is more about how one can focus on one matter at a time, rather than having a wide array of things to work on.
Writing in a LinkedIn blog post, her reflections came after she was on the bus on Monday morning and noticed that a number of drivers were looking at their phones while driving, an observation that led her to think about “how thinly we stretch ourselves” during our daily lives.
“We frequently talk about work-life balance, but what we really need to be talking about are boundaries and the negative implications on mental health and relationships when boundaries are too fluid and not well upheld,” she said.
She remarked that when one stops to think about the sheer number of things that they have to attend to, it comes as no surprise that many end up feeling stressed.
“Do we really need to burden our mind with attending to multiple things at a time? We are living in a world driven by how much we do. However, we should really pause and ask ourselves: at what expense?” Ms Gatt continued.
However, the answer to this question is not as easy as it may initially seem and includes a wide array of aspects such as “physical wellbeing, psychological health, and the quality of relationships we forge and sustain”. Ms Gatt said that it is worth asking oneself how present they are at work, with a romantic partner, friends, children, parents or any other individual.
Ms Gatt co-founded Psychology in Practice together with Kim Spiteri last August, having worked as a Clinical Psychologist for over seven years. Through Psychology in Practice, the pair aim to establish a “vibrant professional development hub” where organisations can access a range of “learning, training, and psychological assessment services”
She explained that while there has been “much talk” about mindfulness and being mindful, it is important to highlight that this “does not constitute having your finger in 101 puddings”, as that is a form of “greed” that is not allowing an individual to reach their “full potential”.
Relating this to the situation of working parents, she noted that many are next to their children yet are constantly thinking about work or actually trying to work.
“Truth be told, in such moments you are neither providing quality time to your kids neither fully focused on the work you are trying to do. Your kids are likely experiencing their parent as emotionally disconnected,” Ms Gatt affirmed. Instead of emotional connection, this situation results in working parents to be in a “constant state of frustration” as they cannot give their full attention to their family nor their work.
In a bid to tackle this, she highlighted three key takeaways that every individual should keep in mind, whatever their personal situation, occupation, or work-life balance structure.
Firstly, Ms Gatt said that one has to ask themselves whether they are being greedy. This does not relate to monetary greed, but it concerns that of energy and time.
Individuals must see whether all of the things they are giving their energy to are actually necessary and if they are really present when they are doing them.
Secondly, it is vital to set boundaries between work and personal life.
“You cannot speak of a work-life balance if you are trying to juggle the two at the same time. We are surrounded by technology which rather than adding life to our work, is adding more stress,” Ms Gatt continued.
The digital world’s increased presence in our lives can remove boundaries between life at work and life at home, potentially “eroding relationships” with colleagues, friends and loved ones, as well as one’s mental health.
“The positive thing here is that you do have a choice. If you want to focus on work you need to plan a specific time and allow nothing to distract you from it,” she stressed. She also called for employers to acknowledge that it is not all about how much time one spends at work, but it is how much of their attention is “fully engaged in work that counts.
Lastly, she explained that one must “appreciate the present moment”.
“Very often, we are so focused on which step to accomplish next that we often forget to stop and appreciate what we have accomplished so far,” Ms Gatt said. This can range from having a good set of friends, finally getting a promotion one has been working for and having children, to being physically and emotionally healthy.
Psychology in Practice Co-Founder Mary Rose Gatt / LinkedIn
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