Recently, as part of the Cpl Wellness programme, we undertook an introduction to the practice of mindfulness, how it can affect the brain and how it can help with improving habits, mood and relationships.
Mindfulness is a technique to reduce negative stress and help deal with everyday work challenges. The thought process is by focusing on what’s happening now, you can increase focus and productivity. It’s not for everyone, but if you’re open to changing habits it can make your work life less stressful and more enjoyable.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is defined as “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.”
In a work setting it can be useful for managing stress levels, improving relationships with difficult co-workers and boosting your overall happiness.
How does it help?
By focusing on the present, rather than a bad meeting last week or an upcoming deadline, mindfulness allows you to step back and make better, clearer decisions. It is said to improve decision making, creativity, memory and focus.
How do I practice it?
Meditation is great for enhancing mindfulness, but if you don’t have time to meditate there are other tips you can try. The simplest thing you can do is try and reinforce the thought that there’s no point worrying about things that may never happen, as even if they do end up happening worrying in advance only causes prolonged stress. These are some other easy to implement tips and techniques:
Focus on your breathing.
When you feel stressed take a minute and breath in and out deeply. This relaxes the body and forces you to focus on your breathing, rather than your stress.
Switch off on your lunchbreak and if possible leave the office.
Ideally go for a walk and sit with your thoughts or chat with colleagues, rather than scrolling through your phone or giving time and energy to worries. If you have trouble doing this, try and focus on one thing – whether that be your breathing, the words to a song or a podcast.
Even if a co-worker is annoying you, step back and be mindful that they’re probably having a tough time, were awake all night with their child or are simply having a bad day. Instead of wishing them badly, refocus and wish them well (even if it is just inside your own head.) In the end, negative thoughts will impact you badly more than anyone else. Things like this take time, but the more you practice the easier it’ll get.
Get a good night’s sleep.
The average adult needs 7-9 hours of a sleep every night. If you find it difficult to sleep there are numerous guided meditations online which will help relax you. As with other mindfulness methods, they’ll take practice, but they do work. If you find a common worry is keeping you awake at night, find a way to address it – whether that’s by speaking to a friend or acting in another proactive way.
Meditation and mindfulness are directly linked to benefiting the areas of the brain associated with learning, memory and emotion regulation, while at the same time decreasing the activity in the brain related to fear, anxiety and chronic stress. Try just one of the above tips and techniques and see how it can improve your day to day work.