The why and how of mindfulness at work

One of the first images that enter your head when you think of work life is of a person who is working overtime, stressed, with multiple mental health issues. This is an image because it is also the reality in most cases. Stress at the work place costs millions of jobs around the world.

Even though it looks like there are machines, technology and services for no matter what you need, to make life easier, with the increase of all these, mental health issues are at rise too. Maybe it is because the things we did without the help of these new technologies and services were the things that made us human.

So why do we have increasing stress even though we have technology to help us at every step? This is very simply because technology deliver results in the fraction of a second. This puts us in a pressure as we are expected to work faster and bring out more results.

Many workplaces nowadays have inculcated some stress relief activities. Starting from a casual environment to having games and occasional parties, office spaces are turning out to be more casual than formal.

Mindfulness is being practiced almost every new workplace and it is for the good. If you are new to this, let us give you a quick tour to Mindfulness 101. We will include what mindfulness meditation is, how to practice it, research findings on therapeutic and cognitive benefits of it, and simple mindfulness exercises you can practice in your office.

Mindfulness 101

This is one of the most practiced stress busters in office spaces because it is space appropriate. Practicing this not only helps take your stress away, it will make you sharp at your work; it is a win-win situation. It is basically bringing your attention to your body and your breathing eventually building concentration and awareness of your own mind.

Step 1

Sit at your usual workspace and close your eyes. Your back should not slouch but neither should it be stiff. Your entire feet should be touching the floor.

Step 2

Be aware of your breathing, both inhaling and exhaling. You will feel the breath in three places mainly-nose, chest or stomach. Whatever you think is prominent, keep your attention to that area.

Step 3

This is the part where you feel like you are already failing at this. As soon as you try step 2, you will feel your mind distracted, thinking about various other things bothering you. However, every time you get distracted and start over, you gain the ability to stay focused for a few more seconds and that is an achievement.

This is it, the practice is as simple as it sounds. It is just that you might have to practice for a while to get to a point where you can focus on your body, mind and breathing without getting distracted. However, practice this for just five minutes every day in the office and you will feel way calmer and stress free than usual.

What research shows

Due to the increase in the number of people dealing with stress and mental illness at a very young age, the research on it has also increased. More than 3000 studies show that there is a positive result to meditating in workplace.

There are studies that show that practicing meditation of mindfulness reduces grey matter density in the parts of brain which is linked with mental illnesses related to anxiety and stress. Another study which had two sets of people, one practicing mindfulness and the other not, showed that the ones who practiced it had better regulation of emotions, sense of self and better perspectives. When it comes to boring and monotonous work, people who meditated were able to bring better outcomes. It goes without saying that meditation helps you overcome mental health issues too. These are just a few findings from many researchers.

Mindfulness training providers

If you own a company or a business, you cannot just tell your employees to do this and expect them at actually practice it. It is way better for them and for your company to implement a program based on this. There are a lot of training providers who can help you with this. If you are worried about the charges, then you should realize that the outcome is worth the expense.

Simple workplace mindfulness strategies and techniques

Since there is an expense involved in bringing in a trainer, many smaller businesses might be reluctant to do so even though it brings a good outcome. However, there are some other alternatives you can do to avoid bringing in a trainer and yet have good outcomes.

One-minute meditations

Whenever work feels like it’s getting too stressful, take a one-minute break. Don’t leave your seat, sit at the same spot and practice the three steps mentioned at the beginning. If randomly closing your eyes at the middle of break is a little weird and misleading, you can do the same thing by keeping your eyes closed. Just find a place you can focus on and try not to deviate from that spot. This will go a long way.

Mindful listening

It is natural for people to get distracted in the middle of conversation. When you are having a conversation with your coworker, you might at times find yourself thinking about the work you have to finish or the things to do after work. However, during conversations like these, put a little more effort to actually listening to them and giving them undivided attention. This will help you improve your attention span, the relationship with coworkers and make them feel heard.

The observation game

Whenever you feel overwhelmed by work or need to clear your head, do this very simple step for a minute. Find any random object near you. It can be as simple as a mouse, a pen, a paper. Observe it keenly almost as if you are seeing it for the first time. Notice every tiny detail on it for one minute and this will help clear your head. It will also make you appreciate the little things in life that goes unnoticed.

Take a break in nature

Nature can do wonders to your mind. Whenever you can get a chance to step out of the office for just a couple mins, walk out, somewhere with a good ambiance and atmosphere, away from traffic and noise and just be with your surroundings. Walk around for a while, deep breaths and take the freshness all in. Leave your phone and other distractive devices back in the office if possible.

Practicing gratitude

It is normal human tendency to ponder on the things that go wrong in our life than focus on the good things. However, if you keep doing only this, your mind will soon be affected very negatively. Even if you made your passion into work, you still will find something you don’t like doing in the office. If you decide to focus on that tiny negativity than focus on all the other good side of work, you will soon start hating your job completely. Try and make a list of things, a mental note will do too, comparing the good and bad things in the office. This will soon bring you back into reality and show you that there are more good sides. After all, you chose to be in that particular workplace and not anywhere else for a reason.