Let’s Talk About Mental Health: Mindfulness and Meditation

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Mental health issues can impact anyone, regardless of age, gender, or background.

GovCIO has initiated a new, ongoing, employee interview series to help foster a more open dialogue about mental health in the workplace. As a part of this series, members of the GovCIO team are reflecting on some of the most prevalent mental health topics today, along with tips for managing stress and anxiety.

Spotlight on Meditation with Patricia Kardian

GovCIO’s Technical Writer, Patricia Kardian, discusses prioritizing mental health, releasing stress and how to keep going even in times of uncertainty.

I started prioritizing mental health during the 2020 lockdown The stress caused by a global pandemic can do that to youI downloaded Headspace—a paid application for guided meditation—hoping to find new ways to relax and unwind, little did I know it would change my way of thinking, forever. 

"I learned the importance of stilling your breath, noting thoughts as they arose in the mind, and letting those thoughts drift off without getting too involved in them."

Patricia Kardian
Technical Writer

I dabbled in meditation courses in college and found them incredibly helpful when dealing with the onslaught of exams and term papers.  I learned the importance of stilling your breath, noting thoughts as they arose in the mind, and letting those thoughts drift off without getting too involved in them.   

As a working adult, I lost all that.  I went from one thing to the next, racing to get things done, like so many of us.  Sitting down to meditate again in 2020, for the first time in nearly a decade, felt both jarring and familiar.   

I opened my phone and chose a meditation on being alone.  I expected the same mantra of teaching yourself to acknowledge your thoughts and feelings before gently letting them go.  Instead, the app’s meditation teacher—a former Buddhist monk with a soothing, British accent—told me to imagine someone you care about, to think of that person in a place they would enjoy (a park, a garden, a beach).  And as that person rested comfortably, in that imaginary setting, the meditation teacher encouraged me to send love and happiness out to my loved one and watch as a smile almost imperceptibly appeared on their face. 

of people meditate to relax or reduce stress
people meditate around the world
of people meditate 1x/week

Each day, I chose someone to send love and comfort to—sometimes a close friend, sometimes a family member, sometimes it was my mom’s ancient Siamese cat, curled up on his favorite corner of the sofa.  And it helped.  Taking a few minutes each morning to consider someone I cared for, and mentally send them peace and happiness, made me feel less alone and more importantly, it made me feel happier. 

So, when stress from work or my personal life hits, I can always take time to find a comfy seat, take a few deep breaths, and give the anxious thoughts a chance to rise to the surface and float away.  It isn’t exactly a quick fix.  It takes time and practice to get it right, like all things, but I guarantee it’s worth it, in the end.   

I have turned to meditation many times, since I first opened the Headspace app, to help me through periods of grief and uncertainty.  Fortunately, it teaches you to relish the good, as well as the bad, to savor each moment and cherish each experience, no matter what it might mean.   

Try a Headspace meditation free, as part of your Microsoft account with GovCIO, by navigating to Viva Insights in your Microsoft 365 applications page. 

Try a 5-minute Meditation Today