Mindfulness at Work: Focus on Your Mind by Staying in the Moment
Have you ever caught yourself living in the past? Maybe you just can’t stop replaying the conversation in your head and thinking about what to say. Or maybe you’re worrying about the future and asking yourself endless “if” questions. It’s easy to get caught up in a web of anxious thoughts. However, this can negatively affect our productivity, health and well-being and cause more cause for concern. One way to stop this trend is mindfulness; that is, to focus our attention only on the present in order to focus the mind and avoid distractions. But how can we use this awareness in the workplace? What benefits can this bring to our personal and professional lives? In this article, I have tried to answer these questions and bring together the results of recent research.
What is mindfulness/mindfulness?
The Oxford Center for Mindfulness defines mindfulness as “a nonjudgmental moment-to-moment awareness of one’s own experience.” Simply put, when you are mindful, you are fully aware of your thoughts, feelings, and actions, but you are not obsessed with them. Mindfulness has its origins in ancient Eastern religions and philosophies such as Buddhism, but you don’t have to follow any particular faith to benefit from it. The term is often used interchangeably with “meditation” because mindfulness meditation is one of the most popular practices.
How is mindfulness applied?
Practicing mindfulness can improve your physical and mental health. Mindfulness sounds simple, but it’s important to remember that you need to practice it regularly, preferably every day, to get consistent results. Here are five steps to get started:
1. Mindfulness meditation
To practice mindfulness meditation, you must first find a comfortable place. Sit up straight, but comfortably, and focus on your breathing. Pay attention to how you feel, listen to the sound of your breath, and feel your chest expand and contract.
If distracting thoughts arise, don’t get angry at yourself. Instead, be aware of your distraction and gently bring your attention back to your breathing. Try to do this for at least a minute.
2. Watch your surroundings
Busy lives, social media, and our growing reliance on technology have meant that it can be difficult for us to stay focused. You can restore focus by paying more attention to what is happening around you at the moment.
You don’t need to meditate for this. You can apply this at work, on your way to work, or at home. Look at the people around you (if it’s culturally appropriate). Really feel the ground and feel on your feet. What objects are around you? What sounds do you hear? What flavors are there?
3. Slow down
Focus on doing one task at a time as much as possible. The pace and demands of work can distract us and make us feel overly restless or overwhelmed, which can reduce the quality of our work.
If you’re still distracted, don’t feel guilty. Instead, notice that you are distracted and slowly redirect your attention to the task at hand.
4. Pay attention to routine work
Another way to develop mindfulness in your life is to take a fresh look at what you usually do. For example, lay out papers, wash dishes or water flowers.
Just pay attention to the details of the task. For example, feel the paper between your fingers, feel the sensation of warm water in your palms, or listen to the rustle of leaves. This will keep your mind from getting distracted by other worries or worries. Try to focus your mind in this way for at least five minutes. You may find that you enjoy this activity more and feel more positive when you complete it.
5. Admit your feelings
How many times a day do you judge your feelings and thoughts? For example, “I shouldn’t feel like this.” or “This is a terrible thought.‘ you might think.
Part of mindfulness means you don’t judge your thoughts and feelings as “right” or “wrong” as this can often lead to low self-esteem. So remember that the next time this happens, those thoughts and feelings will pass. These thoughts don’t define you, they don’t have to mean anything, and as long as you are aware of them, you have the choice to act on them or not.
Benefits of Awareness
In recent years, many large organizations have begun investing in mindfulness. For example, Google, Nike, and Procter & Gamble provide meditation rooms and classes for employees, which the US Army uses to help soldiers cope with stress before and after deployment. Benefits of using mindfulness include:
Best Focus: Mindfulness helps you to be in the present moment so that you can fully focus on what you are doing now and minimize distractions. But this is not a quick fix—if you use mindfulness regularly, you will enter the flow state more easily and quickly.
Improving mental and physical health: Scientific research has shown that mindfulness can change the structure of our brain, allowing us to respond to stress in a healthier way and retain information for longer. This reduces the production of the “stress hormone” cortisol, which can be detrimental to our heart, and helps regulate our emotions, and when we’re not preoccupied with worrying about the past or the future, we can approach everyday problems more calmly. This will likely reduce our negative self-talk and increase our self-confidence.
When used in conjunction with mindfulness, medications, and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), it can be especially effective in reducing the negative effects of mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. In addition, the researchers found that people who practiced mindfulness meditation for eight weeks could also experience physical health benefits, such as an increase in antibodies associated with immune function.
Note. Despite its many benefits, mindfulness meditation can sometimes have negative side effects, especially in people with serious comorbidities such as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder.
Negative thinking can cause serious health problems and, in extreme cases, death. While mindfulness has been shown to have a positive effect on reducing occasional negative thoughts, if you have any concerns about comorbidities, or if negative thoughts are causing significant or lasting unhappiness, you should seek the advice of a qualified healthcare professional. Health care professionals should be consulted before making any major changes to diet or exercise levels.)
More flexibility: Psychologists explain how people tend to develop and maintain a “narrative self,” meaning we tell ourselves stories that paint a picture of who we are. However, sometimes life events challenge these stories, causing us pain and confusion. However, paying close attention to the present can lead us to see the “experiential” self instead, which can help us be more adaptable and responsive. Therefore, we are likely to be more resilient in the face of, for example, a sudden loss of a job or a radical change in the situation.
Stronger relationships: Emotional intelligence (EI) involves strong self-awareness, so as you might guess, research links mindfulness to higher EI. Another study concluded that mindfulness can help us develop empathy and enhance altruistic behavior. Also, when we are fully present in a situation, we can respond to people more sincerely, which builds trust and increases understanding. Together, these qualities are likely to help you make more meaningful connections and improve relationships with co-workers.
Extended creativity: Awareness can encourage divergent thinking, allowing you to create more innovative solutions to business problems. For example, in one experiment, researchers found that subjects who practiced mindfulness meditation just 10 minutes before a brainstorming session generated ideas in nine different categories, while the control group had only five categories.
Key points; Mindfulness involves being fully aware of your thoughts, feelings, and actions. It means being in the present moment and paying close attention to what is happening right now rather than worrying about the past or the future.
You can raise awareness by following these five steps:
1. Meditate regularly.
2. Watch your surroundings.
3. Slow down.
4. Pay attention to routine work.
5. Accept your feelings for what they are.
Practicing mindfulness has a number of benefits. It can benefit your mental and physical well-being and reduce stress in your work life, improve focus and concentration, increase stamina, aid creativity, and boost your emotional intelligence.
You may be interested in: Increase your resilience: 3 ways to become more flexible
Darwin, (2015) Emotional Intelligence and Mindfulness
Davidson, (2003) Changes in brain and immune function induced by mindfulness meditation, Psychosomatic Medicine
Schootstra, (2017) Can 10 minutes of meditation make you more creative?
Shapiro, (1998) Impact of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction on Medical Students and Medical Schools, Journal of Behavioral Medicine
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