Mindfulness is part of mainstream life and also has a modern workplace role.
‘One of the reasons mindfulness is becoming popular in the workplace is because we need it more than ever before,’ says clinical psychologist and mindfulness expert Dr Paula Watkins. ‘Our brains are craving it.’
Science backs up the important role of mindfulness in the workplace. Research links meditation with making more rational decisions, higher employee morale, greater happiness levels, better teamwork and higher productivity.
Below are some ideas for incorporating mindfulness into your working day:
Take on a meditation practice
You can’t undertake mindfulness without an understanding of what it is or how to best use it, and this is where meditation practice comes in.
‘Meditation is mind training,’ says Watkins, ‘and we’re training our minds to experience different levels of awareness.’
To Watkins, mindfulness and meditation are different ways to achieve this awareness. Meditation is mind training practice, while mindfulness is how you put that practice into place in real life.
‘We have ample research that people who practise meditation are more aware and mindful during their day,’ she adds.
Incorporate this practice into your working day
‘You don’t need to have a mindfulness or meditation guru in your office,’ Watkins says. Instead, she suggests holding a mindfulness activity each work day with a set 10 minute break for your team, using an app such as Headspace. This is similar to meditation practice, and is a great way to make mindfulness a little bit social.
‘Be mindful of the day ahead and set your intentions,’ suggests Watkins. ‘At the start of the day, look ahead at your schedule and, as you shift your attention from one item to the next, be mindful of your reactions to the things coming up in your day. You might detect some excitement about one meeting or some annoyance, stress or anxiety about another activity.’ It isn’t about changing your reaction, but being aware of it and using this to plan your day’s actions.
Let go of the unnecessary
Set a reminder to check in with yourself, what’s happening in your mind and find your physical tensions. ‘Do a body scan from head to toe, and take notice of what you can let go of,’ Watkins says. ‘Often there’s some unnecessary tension, perhaps in your jaw, shoulders, face or hands.’ Let go of this tension: you don’t need it.
‘We set the pace for ourselves internally by how we move,’ Watkins explains, ’so you can walk with more purpose and intention.’ If you’re rushing, that’s okay so long as you’re mindful this isn’t your normal pace.
Do one thing at a time
While multi-tasking was the buzz term for a long time, science now tells us focusing on one thing at a time is better for productivity and our brains. ’Multi-tasking degrades our performance,’ Watkins says.
Take mindful breaks
‘Be mindful that you’re taking a break and indulge in that, rather than taking a break with your head still at work,’ Watkins says. This can create a better bond with colleagues who are also on a break, and helps refresh your mind.
Be present with others
Communication is an important team work factor, and this can be improved with mindfulness. When you’re speaking or listening to someone, be focused on that one conversation. ‘Meditation, particularly a form called compassion meditation, affects your empathy by using an area of the brain called the pre-frontal cortex,’ Watkins says. ‘This empathy is your ability to read others and understand others, and this is important in life and in business.’
Review your day
At the end of the workday, check in with yourself again to see how it went for you. ‘Review what you’ve accomplished that day, and take the chance to plan ahead for the next day,’ Watkins says.
Transition from work to home
Monitor how you’re feeling at the end of your day: ‘Are you exhausted? How are you feeling? How‘s your posture? What’s on your mind?’ asks Watkins. ‘Although we don’t often give a lot of attention to these transitions, it allows us to be more present in the next chapter of our day.’
Mindfulness and rationality: http://pss.sagepub.com/content/25/2/369.abstract Accessed 29 January 2018.
Mindfulness and teamwork: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S014976340900195X Accessed 29 January 2018.
This article was provided by SuperFriend®, a national health promotion foundation that helps ‘all profit to member’ super funds to promote and support improved mental health and wellbeing for their members, through the workplace. SuperFriend provides easy to understand information about mental health and mental illness, tips on how workplaces can create supportive work environments and importantly, where to find reliable help if you or someone you know needs assistance