Mindfulness at work?
Does this conjure up images of people all sitting around in meetings, silently meditating or humming OMM?? Although it might make for more harmonious meetings, it’s probably not practical to achieving our work deadlines. As we know, workplaces are gradually becoming more stressful as the pressures on individuals and teams escalates. Increasing workloads, technology which allows us to be ‘connected’ to work 24 hours a day, the demand for multiskilling, less stable employment and continuous change is having an enormous impact on our overall health and stress levels. Research suggests that workplace stress and burnout is increasing.
So how can we address this? Although Mindfulness is commonly associated with formal guided meditation, it is also extremely useful to use in non-formal, practical ways which you can apply during your day at work. Research has shown that practising Mindfulness regularly is a powerful and effective strategy to counteract the stresses and pressures of modern day workplaces and has the following benefits:
Improves your clarity, ability to think more effectively
Become more productive
Improves your decision-making skills
Work more effectively and cooperatively with others
Unleashes your creativity
Increases your focus and attention span
Reduces stress and improves confidence
Mindfulness is about being focussed in the present moment without emotional judgement. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? However mindfulness requires regular practice and commitment.
Here are 3 practical ways you can practice mindfulness at work.
1. Become aware of your thinking and emotional reactions to situations at work. When you find yourself reacting defensively, take a few deep breaths and imagine yourself hovering above the situation, watching yourself. Ask yourself why you are being defensive? What thoughts have contributed to your reactions and behaviours? Write these down, and notice if these have become a habit. Becoming more self-aware, and giving yourself time to react differently will create better decisions and thinking patterns, and give you greater choices over your behaviours
2. In meetings, have your key ideas/ thoughts already written down, so that you can concentrate solely on the present discussion and ideas of others, without thinking about what you want to say next. This allows you to focus on the others in the room and really listen and understand where they are coming from without judgement but with open curiosity. Notice whether practicing this regularly gradually improves your relationship with others at work. The non-judgemental aspect of mindfulness is also important in developing your creativity, as by refraining from any ‘critical’ thoughts when coming up with new ideas will allow you to explore these ideas more fully.
3. Between meetings or before a presentation or important discussion, take 2 minutes to sit somewhere quietly , preferably with your eyes closed, and just breathe slowly, focussing solely on your breath as it flows through your body. Notice how your heart rate, pulse and breathing slow down, and you become calmer and more focussed. You can set a timer if that helps you to relax.
We are often very quick to judge ourselves and others, and by being more mindful and suspending judgement, we will become more effective, both personally and professionally. We also become more ‘grounded ’ and less stressed as our minds become used to not continually racing, but slowing down and being fully ‘present’ in every moment.