Mindfulness is a concept that has been enjoyed and practiced for centuries, but that has only recently made a resurgence in pop culture. Our constant engagement and immediate access to text, email, phone calls, social media – most of which are interlaced with targeted advertisements — have recently prompted a heightened interest in the idea of “mindfulness” as a means to “unplug” and slow down. This ongoing engagement and instant access to information have created a reality of emotional exhaustion from the hundreds of thoughts and images impeding our minds every second of every day; we have perpetuated a state of distraction and tiredness. The constant commotion makes it challenging to devote our full attention to any specific task or situation, specifically at work. But, if we choose to practice mindfulness, not only can we be more aware of our thoughts, but more productive in our jobs.
The Science of Mindfulness
Physicians and researchers have examined the benefits of mindfulness within the workplace and their investigations have found that mindfulness can reduce emotional exhaustion and improve overall job satisfaction1. Many health professionals suggest that the act of being mindful can help your brain rewire itself to respond (thoughtfully) to situations and experiences rather than simply reacting (impulsively). In fact, not only is mindfulness helpful to productivity in the workplace, but physicians have been prescribing mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for anxiety and depression for a number of years.
So, what are some tips for practicing mindfulness? First, don’t overcomplicate the process — it does not have to include a 30-minute sound bath with crystals and patchouli. Mindfulness is simply described as an awareness of experiences as we experience them; in other words, the idea of being the moment. Start with one minute between emails to stretch or breathe or simply be silent — anything that helps realign your conscious thinking to the present moment. Staying mindful for even a short amount of time can have lasting, calming effects on the central nervous system and will help you refocus on the task at hand. Oftentimes, experts will refer to this exercise as meditation which is a good way to achieve and practice mindfulness.
Meditation itself is the art of cultivating presence and, contrary to the hype and complexity we often create around it, can be attained anywhere. There are a million techniques and varieties of meditation, but the process is the same; sit or stand, open or close your eyes, remind yourself what you are currently doing and breathe deeply. This act of self-focus or self-induced study is a technique to let go of expectations, tasks, and constant distraction. Practice taking these little moments to meditate throughout your day: whether before or after a meeting, during your lunch break, in-between tasks or after a call. We often allude ourselves to the idea that mindfulness is a complex, nearly impossible to achieve state when, in reality, it is simply a matter of being exactly where you are
So, consider mindfulness during your next conversation, your next meeting, or your next interaction.
Mindfulness is only one breath away.
1Hülsheger, U. R., Alberts, H. J. E. M., Feinholdt, A., & Lang, J. W. B. (2013). Benefits of mindfulness at work: The role of mindfulness in emotion regulation, emotional exhaustion, and job satisfaction. Journal of Applied Psychology, 98(2), 310-325.