Mindfulness in the workplace

It doesn’t matter how much you love your job—sometimes deadlines, workloads, early starts and late finishes can cause stress and anxiety.

A great way to combat this is by practising mindfulness at work.

What this means is paying attention to now. Relaxing, concentrating on sounds and thoughts, accepting the present moment without judgment.

 

But does mindfulness work?

According to research from respected institutions such as Harvard and the University of Surrey, yes. In fact, the University of Surrey found that practising mindfulness potentially reduces stress and anxiety by as much as 40% and 58%, respectively.

Given that stress-related absence is increasing year-on-year—with presenteeism an issue for a staggering 83% of those surveyed—it’s clear that the stress-busting benefits of practising mindfulness at work could be a lifesaver for UK businesses.

 

Can you tell me how to practice mindfulness at work?

We certainly can. While this is in no way a comprehensive guide, here are a few brief mindfulness tips. Remember that you don’t need any special equipment, training or time for this—the research suggests that even snatching five minutes to yourself, clearing your mind and just being, is beneficial. And once you learn to relax, and understand how it helps, you can easily teach others how to be mindful at work.

 - Slow down

Everyone has deadlines, obligations and tasks. But panicking, rushing at the last moment and overworking yourself benefits nobody.

While it may seem counterintuitive, slowing down a little helps in the long run. Pause, focus on taking in everything around you. Be calm, and you’ll find yourself becoming more efficient, less stressed and more equipped to cope with your workload.

 - Accept the present

There’s an old saying (which we’ll paraphrase, here): ‘stuff happens’. And it’s true. You can’t wind back the clock—if you’ve made a mistake, taken on too much work or are simply worried about something from the past, there’s nothing you can do to change that.

Mindfulness, when practised well, is about accepting these things, moving on and making the present the foremost thought in your mind. Understanding your flaws and weaknesses is the first step toward bettering them.

It can even help you to cope with a toxic environment. You’re less likely to feel frustrated and oppressed by negativity when you’re accepting and willing to work on the flaws.

 - Stop multitasking

Mindfulness is about the present, and in the present, you can only do one thing. Don’t flit between tasks and tie yourself in knots—work out your priorities, make a plan and a timeline, and stick to them.

Keep a journal of your tasks, and the time you allot to them. You’ll quickly find that things get done far more efficiently when you’re a single-tasker.

 - Practice short exercises

The greatest thing about mindfulness exercises is that they don’t have to take hours. Even just a minute—60 seconds—can ground you to the present.

Try following this video, which simply shows you how to breathe deeply and rhythmically for one short minute. Focus on the exercise, and breathe along. You’ll find it focuses, sharpens and clears the mind—and it’s just the beginning of a mindfulness journey.

 

Expert advice

The Health Assured online portal features plenty of great advice on the benefits of mindfulness at work, along with exercises and webinars designed to help you achieve a sense of calm, and oneness with the present—along with lots of other topics.

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