Presenteeism is a word I recently heard while talking to a Human Resources friend.
Rather than being absent from work as in absenteeism, presenteeism is being at work but not “fully present”. Pain, anxiety, health issues, frustrations, change and challenges distract and affect one’s ability to focus, connect, feel inner balance and clarity to truly engage in the workplace, at home and in one’s communities.
I recently presented my “NeuroMindShift for a Resilient Mind” keynote to 100 Human resource professionals and 180 Social work professionals and I explained that I had spent most of my pre-accident life similar to this. I could be physically present but my mind would be elsewhere. Yes, I realize this isn’t the complete definition of presenteeism, but of the 300 people I spoke to I asked if they ever felt this way – present yet absent – and hands flew up in agreement.
We live in a world of challenges that create such chaos and havoc in our minds, that individuals that have not experienced a brain trauma, still experience the “side effects” of one.
A racing mind, hypersensitivity, fatigue, foggy thinking leading to difficult problem solving and decision making. This distracted, unfocused and constant experience of the fight or flight response to our daily challenges shuts down the communication within the brain of the prefrontal cortex (PFC) and the amygdala. The amygdala is a small almond like structure in the limbic area of the brain that gives perception and meaning to events. Unfortunately, it’s default mode is to focus on the negative and incite chaos.
The PFC is associated with approaching things in life and positive emotions, impulse control, deeper concentration, improved understanding, faster decision making and the ability to stand outside ourselves to get a better handle or perspective on what is happening around us. If the brain were a village the PFC can be compared to the Mayor. Yet when stress reins havoc the PFC is not in the loop of communication causing further effects – physical anomalies, migraines, unrelated pain, stomach ulcers, irritable bowel – all caused by this disequilibrium and miscommunication with the brain, body and spirit.
How do we remain present when life bucks you off?
How do we put the Mayor (PFC) back into power? By using the NeuroMindShift practices such as yawning, deep breathing, thymus taps and other strategies I have shared previously to develop a resilient mind. Resilience really comes down to how quickly we recover from upsets. Jon Kabat Zinn in “Full Catastrophe Living” indicates that the left PFC activation is associated with an experience of resiliency in individuals and it has been found that people who are highly resilient – who bounce back right away – can have as much as 30 times more activation in the PFC than those who are not.
There are many other NeuroMindShift Practices for building a Resilient Mind that I will share in future. A resilient mind is one grounded in the present moment, fully aware and flowing moment to moment to deal effectively with the challenges and chaos that confronts us every day at work, at home and in our communities. It is not an easy task. It takes dedication, tenacity and a wee bit of humour to bounce back when life bucks you off! But as a community of “Bounce Back Experts” we can support one another and prevail when times get tough.