Mindfulness is an ancient practice, stemming from deeper roots within Buddhism and meditation. However, you don’t have to be particularly spiritual to benefit from its practice. British mental health charity Mind describes mindfulness as ‘a technique you can learn to help notice what’s happening in the present moment without judging anything’.
In a society driven by financial gain and superficial successes, stress has become the new norm. It is not uncommon for workplace stress to lead to more serious and long-term conditions, such as depression and anxiety. So, how can we use mindfulness to help free us from the daily pressures, stresses, and strains in the workplace?
Just like going out for a run or working out at the gym feels great and exercises your body, meditation is an exercise for our minds. Studies show that our brains are malleable and that meditative exercises can help retrain our brains and promote Neuron growth. This occurs in the area of the brain responsible for awareness. Just 10 – 30 minutes a day of awareness – meditating, being still, and focusing on the present – can promote this healthy Neuron growth, allowing us to strengthen our awareness on what’s happening in the present.
Imagine you are at work. Your phone is ringing. There’s a huge pile of paperwork on your desk, emails are building up and you’ve been called into a meeting. How on earth do you get through it all? Well, as the 21st Century has taught us to be multi-tasking superheroes, you dive into all of the above just hoping by the time you resurface before you rush off, unprepared for that meeting, you’ll have made some headway.
It has been proven that those who multi-task are less effective than those who focus on one task at hand from start to finish. So next time that to do list starts to get a bit daunting, start working through it one thing at a time, and notice how quickly you begin to tick things off.
If you need a little help to begin practicing mindfulness, or meditating, one very simple exercise to get you started is to use your breathing as a way to focus your awareness. You can even do this at your desk, whilst you’re waiting for your coffee, or on your daily commute. Focus on your breath as it moves in and out of the body, and if anxiety levels are high, focus on the exhalation. Our nervous system loves to sigh. Just a few minutes of mindfully breathing can really help calm and ground us, making us feel more ready for the task at hand.
Building up a healthy routine at work and making sure you take plenty of breaks is just as important. Companies like Lifeworks improve health and well-being globally and they’re trusted by 15,000 organisations worldwide. Why not practice mindfulness from the comfort of your desk? Now inhale….