Would you try something new at work if it meant lower levels of stress, anxiety, and depression and created a better corporate culture?
Mindfulness has been shown to offer these benefits, which is why more and more companies are starting to notice. Aetna opened a Mindfulness Center while Google and Nike offer relaxation rooms for meditation.
You probably know the feeling all too well: You arrive at the office with a clear plan for the day and then, in what feels like just a moment, you find yourself on your way back home. Eight or more hours have passed but you’ve accomplished only a few of your priorities. And most likely, you can’t remember exactly what you did all day. If this sounds familiar, don’t worry. You’re not alone. Research shows that people spend almost 47 percent of their waking hours thinking about something other than what they are doing. In other words, many of us operate on autopilot.
So what exactly is mindfulness and why does it matter to you on the job?
Mindfulness is being aware and focused on the present moment. That means you’re not worrying about what’s going to happen tomorrow, or dwelling on what happened in yesterday’s meeting. This shift enables you to take a step back and make better decisions. It also enhances creativity, focus, and productivity. The best part? You don’t have to sit silently in a meditation room for 20 minutes to become more mindful. You can get started at work right now with a few steps:
- Begin the work day mindfully – Learn to wake up and be ‘In the Moment’ instead of already solving problems of the day. Start with some mindfulness meditation or exercises, sit up and listen to the sound of the birds chirping, wake up early and take a walk, or eat your breakfast slowly.
- Focus on your breathing throughout the day – Breath work isn’t just for ‘Yogis.’ Slowing down your breathing puts you in a calm emotional state and is something that can be done virtually anywhere. Try this easy exercise: Breath in deeply through your nose to the count of three, hold for three, and release through your mouth to the count of three. Repeat. People who are stressed often forget to breathe!
- Go from reactions to responses – A reaction is almost automatic thoughts, speech, and behavior from you following some sort of stimulus, such as your boss criticizing you. A response to a situation is a more considered, balanced choice and leads to solving problems rather than compounding them. The idea is for you to be more creative in your response to this frustration rather than reacting in your usual way, if your usual way is unhelpful and leads to further problems. The benefits of a considered, balanced response as opposed to an automatic reaction include: Lower levels of blood pressure, lower levels of stress hormones in your blood stream, leading to a healthier immune system, improved relationships because you’re in a calmer state of mind, and a greater feeling of being in control, because you’re able to choose how you respond to others.
- Finish the day by letting go – You may find letting go of your work at the end of the day is very difficult. You may spend the evening talking angrily about colleagues and bosses, or actually doing more work to try to catch up with what you should’ve finished during the day. This impacts the quality and quantity of your sleep, lowering energy levels for the next day.
Incorporating mindfulness into your daily routine can be a game changer. No matter what your day involves, do it with focus and awareness. This helps your actions become clear and efficient. Connect with your senses with whatever you are doing. This will help you become more mindful not only in your work day, but also in your home life.
Amy started with AurStaff as an Operations Assistant in May 2017 and has since been promoted to Operations Manager. She is married with two boys (9 and 15), one daughter (24), and a granddaughter (2) who is full of spunk and keeps her on her toes. Amy and her family run a cream cheese mint business on the side that has been in the family for years. This satisfies her love of meeting and helping new people. In her free time, Amy and her family love hiking in South Dakota exploring nature and relaxing in the creeks.