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8 Tips for Practicing Mindfulness at Work

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is the act of being present in the moment, aware of what is going on inside and around us instead of engrossed in the constant flurry of our thoughts and emotions. Practising mindfulness at work helps calm your mind and can allow you to find new ways of relating to whatever external stresses crop up during your workday.

It's not the number of hours we are in the office, or on our computers, which determines the value we bring to our work. In today's fast-paced world of smart technology, where everything is accessible 24/7 and people are constantly checking email, Facebook, Twitter, and the multitude of other social media platforms around, many find themselves only partially engaged in whatever task they are undertaking and this can have a negative impact on performance, relationships and wellbeing in general. It is the attention that we dedicate to a task which brings value to both ourselves and our employers, together with a greater sense of job satisfaction.

Practicing mindfulness changes how we relate with experiences on a moment to moment basis, it enables a greater capacity to learn, remember and focus. It can help regulate and manage our emotions and relate to our colleagues more closely. This can make a vast difference to the way we function at work.

Who does it?

With this in mind, some of the world's most successful companies including Google, KPMG, Barclays, Apple, Yahoo, Nike, Ford, and Starbucks have invested in mindfulness training for their employees, with some even incorporating it into their corporate culture.

Of course practising mindfulness sounds simple, but because it goes against the way we have become accustomed to think and function it's not. Mindfulness is about just being present, being open and accepting of situations just as they are and, if action is required, acknowledging that and making a conscious intentional choice.

Because it's not simple and usually doesn't come naturally, mindfulness is something we need to practice. It generally begins by looking more closely at yourself, giving yourself a break and not beating yourself up about things you have no control over, and then ultimately, toward others. With practice, people notice they spend less time worrying about the past and being concerned about what will happen in the future; they gain perspective, listen better and are more discerning.

The Health Benefits

An American National Institutes of Health study showed that the health benefits of practising mindfulness can bring a 23 per cent decrease in mortality and a 30 per cent decrease in death due to cardiovascular problems. An increasing body of research is showing equally striking benefits in terms of focus, clarity, creativity and energy. This is really making the corporate world take mindfulness seriously.

Research evidence shows improvements in:

• Cognitive function and flexibility (concentration, memory and learning)

• Emotional reactivity and ability to be self-aware and self-manage

• Productivity

• Employer/employee and client relationships

• Job satisfaction

• Costs of staff absenteeism and turnover

Now for the practical bit.

So how do you start being mindful at work? These tips will help you remember to be present, so you don't miss the moment:

1. Set your alarm a little earlier and allow yourself some time. Don't rush around before heading out of the door, try taking a few moments to be quiet and take a slow walk to the station/bus stop/car.

2. Throughout the day think about your posture. Are your shoulders raised? Jaw clenched? Any tightness, or tension being held? Even slight physical adjustments – becoming more upright, open, soft – can have a powerful effect on opening attention up or closing it down.

3. Before you go into a meeting or take a call, give yourself a moment so that you are able to behave consciously and not waste any opportunities.

4. Notice when you are rushing. Try to move a little slower and pay more attention to your movements and how your body feels, consciously letting go regularly.

5. When you are eating, eat a little slower and focus on really tasting, seeing, smelling, appreciating your food more fully.

6. Notice your breathing often. Where do you feel it? Connect with the sensations of breathing directly and rest your attention there to anchor your mind and bring you into the present.

7. Really listen to others; to the sound and tone of their voice(s), see their body language; notice your own response, can you remain open and non-judgemental?

8. When you get home, take a few minutes to be quiet and bring yourself back there. Maybe change your clothes, saying hello and connecting with the people you live with. Don't check your emails/work phone and leave work behind.

As you'd expect, here at Practically Positive we're big advocates of practising mindfulness at work. If you'd like to find out more about how we can help please get in touch.

Well being


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