It is easy to feel like your professional obligations are crowding out your personal life, especially during busy seasons of life. I know that feeling personally. When I work out my schedule and outline my to-do list for each week, I find myself making cuts in favor of efficiency, and my spiritual life is frequently the first thing to be neglected.
It’s an unfortunate habit I’ve gotten into, since spiritual practices have been incredibly grounding for me when I’ve faithfully observed them in the past. Meditation and prayer have long been a way for me to refocus and reconnect with my sense of purpose. Most often, I don’t realize how much I’ve neglected my spirituality until I begin to experience anxiety about the future. It’s then that I realize I have let the busyness of my day-to-day life distract me from spending time connecting with God.
Instead of putting my work life and spiritual life at odds with each other, with one stealing time from the other, I have been working toward integrating the two. With work and faith intertwined, I can remain better connected with my grounding beliefs — that I’m loved by God and can count on him to guide my days — while faithfully devoting myself to my work. Here’s what I have learned so far.
Repurposing your commute
I work from home as a writer, but I actually spend a little time commuting each day to a quiet place to work since my kids are home with a sitter during that time. Whether you drive, walk, or ride public transportation, the commute to and from work is the perfect opportunity to start the day on the right foot.
Personally, I like to keep an updated playlist of podcast episodes so I always have something inspiring to listen to in the car. Among my favorites are On Being and The Liturgists podcasts. Some days, when I have a lot on my mind, I prefer to listen to music. Although I don’t necessarily listen to spiritual music, positive and upbeat music is an avenue for me to spend time in reflection before I being the work day.
Getting the most from your lunch break
During a busy workday, a lunch break can be a powerful time of rest, but it has to be approached with intentional planning. In the past, when I have worked outside the home, first managing a hotel and then later working in inpatient mental health care, I often felt pressure to spend my lunch break chatting with coworkers or skip my break altogether to catch up on work.
In my last job at a hospital, I finally drew strong boundaries by moving to another location in the building for my break. During that time, I did whatever I could to get the most from that half an hour of free time. I often went for a walk so I could spend a few minutes in quiet prayer or meditation, and if I had time, I journaled in the breakroom or read a book for a few minutes before returning for working.
Although some might assume that a meditation practice must happen in a quiet place for long periods of time, the beauty of mindfulness, a practice that encourages non-judgemental awareness of feelings, physical sensations, and thoughts, is that it can be practiced anywhere. By learning to practice mindfulness throughout the workday, you can find a few moments to slow down and take note of ow you are experiencing the world around you. For me, this has become an excellent way to reflect on the root of feelings of anxiety, frustration, or sadness.
A short, deliberate time of meditation in the morning has been good practice for integrating it throughout my day. It’s kind of like a warm-up, and in the past, I have used guided meditations like those offered by UCLA to get comfortable with the practice. With that as a basis, I’ve begun to weave a few moments of mindfulness throughout my day in the form of a few deep breaths between tasks, or quick head-to-toe body scan during the week.
Adjusting your environment
If your work allows you to add personal touches to your workspace, this is another way you might be able to integrate your spirituality at work. Something as small as a framed quote or scripture can serve as a reminder throughout the day of what values you are connected with. In the past, I’ve pinned up a phrase or word I’ve chosen to focus on that week or made a note about something I had read. If you would prefer something more subtle, a small post with a few words or a phrase you want to be mindful of throughout the day can also be a great reminder.
Another way to make your workplace an environment that is encouraging is to connect with coworkers who are interested in have conversations about faith. For me, this has always been something that happens organically, such as striking up a conversation about a book you noticed them reading in the breakroom or asking about something they shared on social media. It isn’t necessary that you share the same faith or spiritual practices, but that you encourage one another through honest and uplifting conversation about your convictions.