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How to deal with microaggressions at work, according to mindfulness coach with a Harvard MBA


How do you deal with workplace microaggressions that affect your wellbeing? Black workers resort to code-switching and changing their appearances, or just ignore it. The stress of discrimination at work may cause mental and physical harm. However, there are ways to keep your head above water.

Harvard Medical School states that discrimination could lead to many health issues. like hypertension. According to a studyThis article was published in The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

Zhalisa Clarke (or Zee) is a Harvard MBA. After managing large teams in Fortune 500 companies, she became a mindfulness and breathing instructor. Clarke began her quest to heal after experiencing firsthand the negative effects of microaggressions in workplace environments.

“I worked for years in Silicon Valley’s financial services industry, where being Black was difficult. It was not fair that I got promoted. Clarke, CNBC Make It. “I would discover that my white coworkers were being paid much more than I was,” Clarke said.

I would often say certain things during meetings, and the people around me would ignore them. Then a colleague of color might repeat the same phrase and be praised. This started to impact my emotional and physical health. I cannot tell you how many sleepless nights I had thinking, ‘I’m gonna get fired,’  every day.”

Clarke was exhausted from work and took a sabbatical in India to study breathwork, get her yoga certificate, become a sound healer, and learn more about elemental healing. According to practitioners, these elements of healing can offer many advantages. health benefitsAlthough not all of them have been proved, there are some benefits, such as lower levels of anxiety and blood pressure, reduced risk of developing heart disease and lower cholesterol.

Clarke advises Black people who experience work stress, discrimination and/or burnout to practice mindfulness. This is defined as the act of “observing what you feel and also looking at what is going on around you.” To remain aware of one’s own situation, Clarke uses RAIN.

“Ri for Recognize your feelings. Recognize that it is okay to feel angry. It is better to allow it to exist than just brushing it aside. The I stands for Investigate. Is there anything you can do to improve your current situation? The N stands for Nurture. It’s about doing something about it.

Clarke advises Black people to learn breathing techniques that can “release anger, reduce anxiety.” These breathing techniques are a fast solution for situations where it is difficult to get away and regroup yourself. 

Clarke has two breathing techniques that she does when she’s in the moment: belly breaths and 4-7-8 breathing.

According to the study, belly breathing stimulates the parasympathetic nervous, which controls the body’s relaxation, feeding and rest. Science Direct.

Inhale, and let your belly expand as if it were a balloon. Then exhale and allow your belly to expand towards the spine. This is the trigger for your parasympathetic nerve system. It is an immediate response to when you are triggered.

Based on Healthline4-7-8 breathing is a way to bring your body into balance, regulate fight or flight response and calm stress.

Clarke says anxiety can make life difficult. The 4-7-8 breathing technique, where you inhale and hold your breath for four count, seven count, and eight count, is incredible for insomnia and anxiety. 

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