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Back to Work, But Not Back to Worry: Stepping into a Mindful Return

Two weeks of rest... a true luxury. Yet, as those final hours of vacation slowly tick away, I have to admit I can feel a familiar tension bubbling up. I know what awaits me–a flooded inbox, catch-up meetings, and perhaps even a subtle undercurrent of judgment for daring to take time off.

But this time, I want to shift that script. Inspired by Arthur C. Brooks, I'm committing to two simple, yet powerful habits as I return to work:

Trading the "Me-Self" for the "I-Self": My "me-self," filled with insecurities and the need to prove itself, gets loud during stressful periods. I worry about appearing unprepared, letting people down. However, this break gave me a chance to see the value in stepping back into the role of the "I-self." This isn't about becoming robotic, but rather the impartial observer—watching my anxieties without letting them dictate my responses.

The Senior Monk Mentality: I love the story Brooks tells of the monk who meets each day with complete openness. Think of the relief! Instead of dreading the mountain of emails or anticipating colleagues' reactions to my absence, what if I try this open-hearted approach?

How These Practices Translate

Let's face it: an overstuffed inbox doesn't care about my mindfulness goals. Here's the power, though: Instead of letting my stressed-out "me-self" frantically react, I can choose to anchor myself in my "I-self." That simple awareness grants me space to prioritize calmly, without self-judgment or panic.

The senior monk's openness will reshape how I respond to those inevitable back-to-work comments. Maybe there's subtle annoyance from someone regarding my time away. Instead of letting my defensive "me-self" rise up, I'll embrace a spirit of non-attachment, trusting my work will speak for itself.

Will these practices instantly vanish work stress? Of course not. But every moment I notice I've lost my center is an opportunity to practice—choosing quiet observation over self-critical worry. This isn't just about coping with a busy week; it's about reclaiming my peace, step by step.

And you know what? I'm not just curious about how this will change my experience, but also how it might impact those around me. Could a calmer, more present "me" actually lead to a more positive and productive work environment overall? It's a possibility that motivates me as I walk back through those office doors.

Visit for coaching programs, and follow me on Instagram at @doingwellcentre, LinkedIn, and on Facebook too.

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