Have you made a habit of scarfing down a quick (usually unhealthy) lunch at your desk, while juggling emails, text messages and phone calls, all while trying to finish up a presentation for work? Are “tired”, “stressed”, or “busy” your typical responses to, “How’re you doing”? Feeling like fresh ideas and enthusiasm to go to work might be things of the past?? Well, the answer to reducing work stress, while still boosting your productivity, might not be what you think. In fact, the answer we’re proposing might be the exact opposite of what your mind has been telling you to do. The answer is (:::drumroll:::): Slow down. To be more specific, instead of trying to juggle more, increase your mindfulness to maximize your efficiency. Likely added bonuses to being more mindful include: better memory, more creativity, improved immune function, and reductions in stress, anxiety, depression and blood pressure.
Mindfulness has become a mainstream term, yet for most people, figuring out how and why to apply it in their own lives remains elusive. In this blog series, the Apex team is going to detail the multitude of benefits you can reap from being more mindful, as well as guide you through how to become a mindfulness master in the workplace.
Before we launch into different ways to integrate mindfulness into your workday, let’s first define what we mean by “being mindful”. We’re talking about living in the now. We’re talking about increasing your moment-to-moment awareness and learning to return yourself to the present whenever you stray into the past or the future. Being mindful also means that you need to skip the judgement. No judging your own thoughts or feelings. Simply observe them as you have them, then let them pass. As a visual, it may be helpful to imagine your ongoing thoughts and feelings as a river with you positioned on the bank watching the water flow by.
As we embark on the process to becoming more mindful, it’s important to remember that mindfulness is a skill. It takes regular, dedicated practice to develop and hone your mindfulness abilities. Furthermore, in today’s fast-paced world we have gotten accustomed to constantly dividing our attention among numerous screens and trying to multitask. Since most of us have made overloading our attention “normal”, you might find focusing on just the present surprisingly difficult. In these early days, do your best not to get frustrated when your attention wanders. Start small. One minute of mindfulness might feel like an eternity at first, but the more you practice, the easier it will get.
In this series, you will learn specific ways to become more mindful at work. Our recommendation is to try each of them out (multiple times!) and find out what mindfulness methods work best for you. Next time, we will be discussing Minute Meditations. Learn how you don’t need to be a Buddhist monk or even own a yoga mat to make meditation a regular part of your work day.
Sound too good to be true? Well, if you’re still skeptical about how awesome the power of mindfulness can be, we encourage you to dive into the science behind mindfulness. There’s plenty of it. Some of our favorite articles on the topic include:
- Mindfulness-based stress reduction and health benefits: A meta-analysis: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15256293
- Alterations in Brain and Immune Function Produced by Mindfulness Meditation http://journals.lww.com/psychosomaticmedicine/Abstract/2003/07000/Alterations_in_Brain_and_Immune_Function_Produced.14.aspx
- Stepping out of history: Mindfulness improves insight problem solving https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22483682
- The Neuroscience of Strategic Leadership: http://www.strategy-business.com/article/The-Neuroscience-of-Strategic-Leadership