Mindfulness at Work: 6 Keys to Health and Well-being
Are you stressed at work? Or having a hard time getting all your work done by the end of the day? Practicing mindfulness at work is one way to improve your health, well being, and productivity. It can help you stay focused on important tasks, build your confidence, and reduce the mental and emotional exhaustion all too common in workplaces today.
We’ve all heard of mindfulness. It’s mentioned so often on websites and magazines that it’s easy to think it’s just another fad, like spinning, Crossfit, or even botox smoothies. But don’t get the wrong idea, meditation and mindfulness techniques are used as a therapeutic technique in clinical settings for a variety of purposes.
“Feelings come and so like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.”
-Thich Bhat Hanh-
Mindfulness has only become more and more popular since Joh Kabat-Zinn, a molecular biologist at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), popularized this Buddhist meditation strategy. To back up its benefits, Dr. Kabat-Zinn conducted rigorous scientific studies on how mindfulness led to major changes in population groups under a lot of stress (inmates in prisons, workers in high-stress environments, people with chronic pain…).
Mindfulness is not just a fad. It’s a health and wellness technique that is gaining more and more popularity and recognition. In fact, it can even help patients who’ve overcome depression avoid relapses. It’s definitely worth giving it a try. Tracking your productivity at work before and after practicing mindfulness is a great way to see how it can help you at work. Let’s take a look at how practicing mindfulness can help your work life.
How can mindfulness at work help you?
David Lynch, a well-known film director, screenwriter, and artist, often escapes his own film set several times a day to find a quiet room or a tranquil area outdoors. He “runs away” to meditate for a few minutes, because he knows it will help him think clearly, be creative, deal with stress, and find himself.
You’re obviously not David Lynch, and your workplace is probably less eventful: an office, a factory, a workshop, a school, a taxi, a hotel, or a hospital with rooms to clean, patients to care for, products to market or promote… But wherever you work and whatever you do, we’re all under pressure, experience anxiety, and often have to multitask.
But if you put forth the effort and try practicing mindfulness at work, it can help you get the following benefits:
Benefits of mindfulness
- Be able to block out overstimulating environments and focus on your work.
- Helps you think clearly, brainstorm ideas, and effectively react to make the most out of any situation.
- Be able to effectively handle stress and pressure.
- Gain self-confidence and self-knowledge, which helps you know your limits, but also be able to anticipate opportunities.
- Feel in control of yourself and your situation.
- Spark positive feelings and emotions to improve relationships with colleagues or even better, recognize what’s bothering you, and figure out if you can change it or not.
How can you use mindfulness at work?
Next, we’ll discuss some specific strategies on how to practice mindfulness at work. But first, keep one simple truth in mind. No one learns to meditate or practice mindfulness in a week or two. This practice requires time and determination. Practicing mindfulness means to think of all the thoughts controlling your mind and body and then refocus your mind on peace and balance.
The following strategies can help you get started.
Before you go to work, decide what you want to get done that day. Clearly define your goal (it can be as simple as doing your work well and returning home without stress and worry).
The here and now
Once at work, always be aware of the present moment, of what is happening here and now. Focus on what you’re working on, not what your coworkers are talking about, the street noise, on that text you’re waiting for on your phone, your plans for tomorrow, what you need to do when you get home…
Restart your mind occasionally
Take 1-minute mental breaks. Obviously, none of us have the power to leave our jobs to go out and meditate for 20 minutes whenever we need it. However, you can train your mind to take relaxing 1-minute breaks every half hour or 40 minutes. When taking 1-minute breaks, soften your gaze and breath in deeply, hold it in for a moment, and slowly exhale… Don’t think about anything during those 60 seconds. Just let the pressures and worries go.
“If you want to control life’s anxieties, live in the moment, live in a breath.”
If all workplaces have one thing in common, it’s multitasking. We take a call while answering an email, while thinking about what we need to do, resolve, decide, communicate… It’s easy to get carried away by multitasking because we think that doing many things at once is more productive. However, it’s not.
Therefore, a key to mindfulness at work is doing one thing at a time and completely focusing on it. This helps you avoid mistakes or missed details to produce an optimal final result.
Use stress to your advantage
Most people think that stress is the enemy of productivity. However, if well-controlled and well-managed, internal stress can be your ally. It not only creates motivation, it helps you be alert and ready to work.
However, stress levels must be carefully managed so it acts as a stimulus. This makes knowing your limits very important so you take on enough stress to be encouraged, not overwhelmed.
Accept what you can’t change
Practicing mindfulness at work also means you must accept what you can’t change. For example, it’s no use getting angry every day with that colleague who’s always late, with the boss who’s always in a bad mood, with that coworker who only gossips and has useless ideas…
Some dynamics and attitudes are like a rock wall: there’s no use hitting it or trying to move it, you just have to accept it. But accepting doesn’t mean you’re giving up, it means you’re becoming more aware of the situation to deal with it effectively and calmly. After all, practicing mindfulness at work also means striving to be optimistic. Try mindfulness, see things in a positive light, drop the weights of stress and exhaustion, and fly free.
Give these tips a try at your workplace. The results might surprise you.