Tips for surviving in a toxic workplace
As I stood in the copy room today waiting for the machine to duplicate and then scan my 100 page document, I was reminded of the simple pleasure found in the Zen of Photocopying.
The Zen of Photocopying
I haven’t practised the art of photocopying zen for some years, since I ceased working full time as a lawyer. I came up with the idea when working in a particularly toxic workplace, and used it on and off as I moved from place to place, finding varying levels of bullying and other toxicity wherever I went.
Photocopying Zen is found in those moments during a busy day when you legitimately have nothing to do other than stand at the copier waiting for it to spit out your copies or send your PDF to email. In those moments you can let your mind wander; you can daydream; you can be present in your body and in the moment.
Watching pages as they feed through the scanner and pile up again underneath is not unlike watching waves rolling in at the beach. Its predictable and repetitive, and there is nothing you need do about it. You can watch those pages flip, or let your eyes unfocus and be in your own world for a few moments – the larger the document, the longer the respite.
Photocopying Zen is found in those moments during a busy day when you legitimately have nothing to do other than stand at the copier waiting for it to spit out your copies or send your PDF to email. Click To Tweet
Why look for zen in mundane moments?
When stuck in a toxic workplace, our bodies are in a constant state of stress, ready for fight, flight or freeze at any moment. You may become hypervigilant and hypersensitive; your blood pressure is higher as are your cortisol levels. Taking a moment to reconnect with your body and practice a mini meditation can counteract all these potentially harmful physiological symptoms of Toxic Workplace Stress.
How to Practice Photocopying Zen
You can attain Photocopying Zen by doing one or more of these things while you wait for the printer to run off your pages:
- Focus on your breathing
- Take a deep breath, to the bottom of your lungs
- Wriggle your toes and feel them in your shoes
- Feel the connection of your feet to the floor
- Let your mind wander; when a thought pops into your mind acknowledge it then let it go
Not just for the copy room
You can practice Photocopying Zen any time you are waiting for something to happen over which you have no control. Here are some examples:
- Waiting for the bus, tram or train
- Stuck in traffic
- In a lift
- Waiting for the person who is always late to arrive at your meeting
Over to you: where have you found Photocopying Zen?
Let me know if you have tried this, or other mindfulness exercises, to get through a difficult day, and how it worked for you.
Until next time,