How to practice mindfulness

Get a free consultation
Health Assured Logo

Health Assured team

16 May 2019

Living in the present isn’t as easy as it sounds. While it’s technically true that we’re all living in the present, in actuality, most of us are only 10% present at any given moment.

The rest of the time we’re living in our minds.

That’s where mindfulness comes in. With it, we’re able to ‘be present’ in the moment and accept it without judgement.

In this article, we explore mindfulness in the workplace. We define it, discuss its benefits and suggest activities your employees can use during times of increased pressures at work.

What is mindfulness?

It’s the practice of focusing attention solely on the current moment.

It means paying attention to the ‘now’ and involves relaxing, concentrating on sounds and thoughts, accepting the present moment. Without judgment.

But does mindfulness work? Yes. Research carried out by the University of Surrey found that practising mindfulness potentially reduces stress and anxiety by as much as 40%-58%, respectively.

In terms of the workplace, as well as the research above, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) found that mental health conditions were one of the four most common reasons for sickness absence at work.

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.

The benefits of practising mindfulness

Mindfulness brings with it numerous advantages. It provides a break from being caught up in thoughts to focus on reconnecting our bodies with the sensations they experience.

Overall, it helps us to understand ourselves better and enjoy the world around us.

When done right, mindfulness can contribute to:

  • Minimising stress and anxiety
  • Improving problem-solving abilities
  • Reducing the feeling of being overwhelmed
  • Appreciating life moments as they happen
  • Being adaptable
  • Increasing empathy

Mindfulness exercises

There are countless small things you can do to accept the present without judgement. Mindfulness exercises don’t have to take hours. Even just a minute—60 seconds—can ground you in the present.

This simple breathing exercise video shows you how to breathe deeply and rhythmically for one short minute. Focus on the exercise and breathe along.

You’ll find that mindfulness breathing exercises focus, sharpen and clear the mind—and it’s just the beginning of your journey towards peace of mind.

The best mindfulness exercises are simple, effective, and only take a few minutes. Here are a few examples:

  • Equal breathing: Find a comfortable position, and inhale slowly through the nose for a count of four. Then exhale for a count of four.
  • Abdominal breathing: Sit and place one hand on your chest, and another on your belly. Breathe deeply through your nose, concentrating on your diaphragm. Exhale slowly and repeat.
  • Muscle relaxation: While concentrating on keeping breath slow and regular, focus on tensing and relaxing muscle groups for a few seconds each. Feel the tension melt away.
  • Relaxing breath: Place the tip of your tongue against the roof of your mouth, and exhale fully. Inhale through your nose for a count of four, hold your breath for a count of seven, exhale—very slowly—for a count of eight.

Some of these mindfulness activities may seem a little counter-intuitive. But if you’re a very target-focused, intense person, slowing down might be the last thing you want to do.

Consider the following mindfulness techniques:

  1. Slow down: Everyone has deadlines, obligations and tasks. But panicking, rushing at the last moment and overworking yourself benefits nobody. While it may seem counter-intuitive, slowing down a little help 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.
  2. 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 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.
  3. Stop multitasking: Mindfulness is about the present, and in the present, you can only do one thing. Don’t fit 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 allocate to them. You’ll quickly find that things get done far more efficiently when you’re a single tasker.

Mindfulness exercises for anxiety

As well as those mentioned above, we’ve explored some mindfulness exercises that work effectively for anxiety.

They’re designed to help with understanding the thoughts and feelings (positive or negative) going through us at any given time.

Here are four different mindfulness exercises for anxiety to consider:

  1. Working with fear: This exercise teaches us to open up to the fear that causes anxiety to allow us to live our ‘true experience’ whatever it is at any given moment. The belief behind this exercise is that by experiencing these feelings we’ll learn to understand them for what they are and even challenge them if needed.
  2. Letting go of judgement (guided meditation): Guided by a trained practitioner or teacher, this form of meditation comprises of music or verbal instructions. It doesn’t have to be in person, it can also be via video or sound recording or written text. It teaches us to think about the perceived judgements we carry as well as how to recognise our vulnerabilities
  3. It doesn’t have to be in person, it can also be via video or sound recording or written text. It teaches us to think about the perceived judgements we carry as well as how to recognise our vulnerabilities.
  4. Detachment from over-thinking (guided meditation): With this form of meditation, we’ll learn to disconnect from the over-thinking of our minds. To combats anxiety, it teaches us to refrain from judgement as thoughts arise and how to let them go naturally.
  5. Body scan: This form of meditation involves noticing the body (from head to toe) and being aware of any sensations or discomfort experienced. By connecting with the body, it allows us to identify indicators of stress and anxiety.

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.

Make your enquiry

Please complete the form below and we'll be in touch to answer your enquiry

Book a place on this workshop

Get a free consultation

Please complete the form and we'll be in touch to schedule your free consultation

An error occurred

We appologise but an error has occurred submitting your form. Please try again.