Bookmarked How too much mindfulness can spike anxiety (

For those who still like the idea of contemplation, it may be time to consider a broader range of techniques. Certain religious traditions encourage practitioners to focus on things outside your body, for instance – such as a bunch of flowers on your desk or even a passage from a poem. These may be better at calming overwhelming feelings of anxiety, or coaxing yourself out of those feelings of dissociation than observing your body or your breathing, says Britton. There’s also a growing interest in meditative techniques that encourage you to think about others’ perspectives and to cultivate feeling of compassion – strategies that are especially effective against feelings of loneliness.

At the moment, some people may feel like they have to stick with one particular strategy – like mindful breathing or the body scan – without considering the alternatives. But this is a mistake, says Britton. “We should really honour the diversity of contemplative practices that are available, because they all do different things, and people would have a much better chance of matching what they need, if they had a bigger buffet of choices.” Each person should choose the best technique – and the correct “dose” – for their particular situation, rather than doggedly pursuing a plan that is not working.

David Robson reports on the growing research around mindfulness and its limitations. In particular, Robson criticises the one-size-fits-all approach that some take.

Each person should choose the best technique – and the correct “dose” – for their particular situation, rather than doggedly pursuing a plan that is not working.

This is an interesting read alongside Christopher T. McCaw dicussion of mindfulness in education, as well as Ronald Purser’s critique McMindfulness.

Bookmarked How faking your feelings at work can be damaging by Keren Levy (

Remaining true to your feelings appears to be key – numerous studies show those who report regularly having to display emotions at work that conflict with their own feelings are more likely to experience emotional exhaustion.

Of course, everybody needs to be professional at work and handling difficult clients and colleagues is often just part of the job. But what’s clear is that putting yourself in their shoes and trying to understand their position is ultimately of greater benefit to your own well-being than voicing sentiments that, deep down, you don’t believe.

It is an interesting dilemma balancing between the personal and private. I think that rather than everyone maintaining the ‘party line’ that it is important for people to translate the core message into their own story or explanation.

Open Office Stress

The claim is made that open offices were designed as a part of the third industrial revolution where skilled people could come together and collaborate. Reports since the 70’s have discovered that this is not the case and that such spaces increase stress and reduce productivity.

Another design-based example is open-plan offices. In the push to lower overheads—and under the false assumption that it would encourage better working practices—private rooms were traded for non-divided workspaces. This resulted in environments that increase stress, particularly due to noise. Stress has become the dominant cost to human health at work. A 2016 report found that stress accounted for 37% of all work-related ill-health cases in the UK and 45% of all working days lost due to ill health.Source

In response to Apple’s new open planned architecture, Rima Sabina Aouf summarises some scrutiny:

Open-plan offices have become more common since the 1990s but have come under scrutiny in recent years. A recent Haworth’s white paper said that open-plan offices are “sabotaging” employees’ ability to focus at work, with office workers losing 28 per cent of their productive time due to interruptions and distractions.

Similarly, Gensler’s 2016 UK Workplace Survey found that workers were more likely to innovate if they had access to a range of spaces supporting different working styles – including private, semi-private and open-plan environments.

These discussions remind me of the experience described by Aaron Swartz.

Wired has tried to make the offices look exciting by painting the walls bright pink but the gray office monotony sneaks through all the same. Gray walls, gray desks, gray noise. The first day I showed up here, I simply couldn’t take it. By lunch time I had literally locked myself in a bathroom stall and started crying. I can’t imagine staying sane with someone buzzing in my ear all day, let alone getting any actual work done.

Libby Sandler summarises some recent research into open-planned offices, highlighting that:

In many open-plan offices, the drive for increased interaction and collaboration comes at the expense of the ability to focus and concentrate.

When distraction makes it hard for employees to focus, cognitive and emotional resources are depleted. The result is increasing stress and errors, undermining performance.

When employees can’t concentrate on their work, their desire to interact and collaborate with others is reduced.

In some ways, open spaces kill the very thing it is trying to encourage.

Seth Godin reflects upon the creative and collaborative purpose of the office and wonders if the space has lost its place?

As social creatures, many people very much need a place to go, a community to be part of, a sense of belonging and meaning. But it’s not at all clear that the 1957 office building is the best way to solve those problems.