As a busy career woman, I thought I could do and have it all. And I did, to a point, holding down a demanding full-time job as a GP, while being a mom and wife and completing a master’s degree in my evenings and weekends.
Are you like me and so many other people finding yourself drowning under the pressure? Our times are challenging. We have only been on this earth for approximately 200 000 years and the last 15-20 years we´ve been living in an increasingly changing IT-society that cause us to be more distractible.
Our jobs occupy many of our waking hours, pay the bills and can even give our lives meaning. However, for many, the place we go to, to earn a living is frequently a cause of substantial stress, anxiety, and discontentment: deadlines, emails, phone calls, meetings, and demanding conversations to deal with. No matter what your job, work can be anxiety-provoking.
Looking a research data in the work place researchers found a strong lack of engagement. Only 13% of people are engaged in their work and a quarter of people are actively disengaged. This also translates into daily living. People do not live their lives any more, they just exist. This means that that people are extremely unhappy while at work and at home.
Being calm and mindful is not something we typically associate with the workplace. But in recent years, a number of well-known companies have implemented mindfulness programs for their employees. For example: Apple, Google and Nike even developed their own mindfulness training programs for employees and started teaching mindfulness in the office.
One way mindfulness can help is simply by letting us improve our focus. When we regularly dart from one task to another, the quality of our work can drop off. Mindfulness — paying attention to the present moment in an accepting, non-judgmental way — is a simple practice available to all. It’s a way of reprogramming your mind to think in healthier, less stressful, ways. By practicing mindfulness — simply coming back to the present moment over and over again — we can train ourselves to become more focused. Research has shown it is also a reliable method for reducing the stressors in life, including at work. Harvard scientists found that mindfulness conclusively and positively changes your brain structure. Neuroscience shows that this daily exercise can improve the areas of the brain that have to do with attention regulation.
When you are experiencing a particularly stressful moment and feel that you are losing your focus, a popular mindfulness exercise known as S.T.O.P. can be helpful.
So try it. Right now.
- Stop. Just take a momentary pause, no matter what you’re doing.
- Take a breath. Feel the sensation of your own breathing, which brings you back to the present moment.
- Observe. Acknowledge what is happening, for good or bad, inside you or out. Just note it.
- Proceed. Having briefly checked in with the present moment, continue with whatever it was you were doing.
Along with the overall benefit of improved focus that comes from mindfulness, there are a number of other benefits that add to overall well-being at work.
Mindfulness reduces levels of emotional exhaustion, stress levels, psychological distress; reduce depression and anxiety, as well as occupational stress. Furthermore it improves sleep quality, enhance creativity, and increase occupational self-compassion and relaxation, in addition to personal accomplishment.
Here are a few more ways you can inject mindful moments into your day so you can de-stress and reduce the impact workplace stress can have on your mind and body.
Tomorrow morning when you get to the office, take 10 minutes at your desk to boost your brain with a short mindfulness practice before you plunge into your day. Close your eyes, relax, and sit upright. Place your full focus on your breath. Simply pay attention to the experience of breathing: inhale, exhale; inhale; exhale. To help your focus stay on your breathing, count silently at each exhalation. Any time you find your mind side-tracked; simply release the distraction by returning your focus to your breath. Most important, allow yourself to enjoy these minutes. During the course of the day, other people and competing urgent things will fight for your attention. But for these 10 minutes, your attention is all your own.
There are many more ways to cultivate mindfulness at work, including:
Being a Single-Tasker. Nobody can actually multi-task. In reality, your brain is madly switching from one thing to the next, often losing data in the process.
Taking a mindful walk during the day and paying attention to your walking by slowing your pace and feeling the ground against your feet
Eating your lunch mindfully. Avoid eating at your desk, in front of a computer, or in your car. Find a place where you can comfortably sit down and focus your energy on your lunch. Then, slow down and really taste your food.
Spend at least 5 minutes each day doing nothing
Get in touch with your senses by noticing the temperature of your skin and background sounds around you
As the day move on and your brain start to wear out, mindfulness can help you stay sharp and avoid bad decisions. After lunch, set a timer on your phone to ring every hour. When the timer rings, stop what you are doing and do one minute of mindfulness practice. These mindful performance breaks will help keep you from resorting to autopilot and lapsing into action addiction.
Finally, as the day comes to an end and you start your to go home, end your day as you started it. Mindfulness shouldn’t stop as soon as you close your laptop or leave the office for the day. For 10 minutes, turn off your phone, shut off the radio, and simply be. Let go of any thoughts that arise. Simply pay attention to the experience of your breathing: inhale, exhale; inhale; exhale. Doing so will allow you to let go of the stresses of the day so you can return home and be fully present with your family.
According to the Harvard Business Review, Mindfulness should no longer be considered a “nice-to-have” for executives only. It’s a “must-have”: a way to keep our brains healthy, to support self-regulation and effective decision-making capabilities, and to protect ourselves from toxic stress. Mindfulness is not about living life in slow motion. It’s about enhancing focus and awareness both in work and in life. It’s about getting rid of distractions and staying on track with your own, as well as organizational, goals. When we take a seat, take a breath, and commit to being mindful we have the potential to be changed.
So start today. We at Zenzile Life would like you to take a few mindfulness breaks at your desk each day. Stop what you’re doing, close your eyes, relax, and take a few deep breaths. Breathe in… Breathe out... Smile. That’s a great place to start and you can build from there.
This post is for informational purposes only. It should not be considered therapy. This blog is only for informational and educational purposes and should not be considered therapy or any form of treatment. We are not able to respond to specific questions or comments about personal situations, appropriate diagnosis or treatment, or otherwise provide any clinical opinions. If you think you need immediate assistance, call your local doctor/psychologist or psychiatrist or the SADAG Mental Health Line on 011 234 4837. If necessary, please phone the Suicide Crisis Line on 0800 567 567 or sms 31393.