Do you find yourself overly stressed with the burdens of family and work responsibilities? Do you forget where you placed your keys? Does your mind wander too much? Do you find yourself overreacting emotionally in benign situations? If you’re like millions of Americans, then the answer is probably “yes” and we have a solution that just might improve those areas of your life.
Mindfulness is an age-old meditation practice that has become popularized over the past decade or so.
Practicing mindfulness can promote mental health in positive ways by:
- Promoting self-control (emotional balance)
- Promoting self-awareness
- Improving concentration
- Improving your relationships
Moreover, research has proven that mindfulness, when practiced by psychotherapists, promotes (see Didonna, 2009 and Baer, 2006):
- Counseling skills
- Decreased stress and anxiety
- Better quality of life
Mindfulness is about bringing one’s attention to experiences that are happening in the present, on a moment-to-moment basis. Through meditation and other activities, mindfulness practices can be performed anywhere, and in almost any situation. Being aware, on purpose, will help you to focus on the present moment rather than worrying or stressing about something that may have happened in the past or could happen in the future. Constant rumination can contribute to stress and anxiety, and although mindfulness won’t replace negative (or stressful) thoughts, the moment-to-moment awareness will help you deal with those thoughts. It will help you to overcome those negative impacts that everyday life stressors can bring and can help make a happier life for you.
Mindfulness is associated with good mental health outcomes and overall well-being. It can reduce anxiety and stress levels which can help with better job performance and a better family life.
Mindfulness Can Benefit Your Company and Employees
Incorporating mindfulness practices into your daily routine can be beneficial and can help to create a more stress-free work day. Work, for some people, is a big stressor. You can practice mindfulness first thing in the morning, before going to bed at night, on your walk to work, during your lunch break, and even right before a big presentation or meeting.
Benefits of Mindfulness
- Mindfulness helps with Decision Making – you can make more rational decisions by using the information you have available to you in the present moment, while foregoing thoughts and concerns about the future.
- Mindfulness helps you to Focus – you remain in-the-moment, you’re not on autopilot, and you’re also not as focused on the past or present. You’re paying attention to what you’re doing while you’re doing it which allows you to become more efficient.
- Mindfulness helps reduce Stress – becoming more aware of thoughts allows you to step back and acknowledge that they are just thoughts which can stop the stress response before it begins. It gives you a moment to center yourself by relaxing your body/mind/muscles.
- Mindfulness improves Relationship Skills – by increasing your emotional and social intelligence, your relationships will improve and you’ll be able to deal with conflict more effectively; you will also notice an increase in self-awareness which will help you to relate to others (and one’s self) with more kindness, compassion, and acceptance.
- Mindfulness can help you Sleep – better sleeping habits will improve your health and will increase your overall well-being.
- Mindfulness makes you Happy – in the end, doesn’t everyone just want to be happy? The more mindful you are, the happier you will become!
How to Practice Mindfulness
For some people, practicing mindfulness can feel daunting, overwhelming, time consuming, and even challenging. But it doesn’t have to be! A quick, easy start to practicing mindfulness is to simply focus your attention on your breath. You can do this anywhere, at any moment and it will relax your body and calm your mind.
Focus on your breathing. This can be done anywhere and only needs to take a minute. Take a moment to breathe and pay attention to the process. Start by inhaling deeply through your nose and focus your attention to the rise of your belly, and when you exhale through your mouth, move your attention to feel your stomach relax. Repeat the process a few times, take a moment and allow your body and muscles to relax, and notice how calm you feel.
Daily practice. Pick one thing you do every day to practice mindfulness. It can be something as simple as brushing your teeth. Turn your attention to the process of what you’re physically doing, and how you’re feeling instead of making to-do lists in your head, or worrying about that meeting or presentation you might have. If you notice your mind starting to wander to a thought, notice it, but bring your attention back to the process of brushing your teeth.
Note: you can do a lot of activities mindfully; eating breakfast, walking, listening to a friend, etc., as long as you are paying attention, moment-moment, you’re being mindful
Feel your feet on the ground. Once seated at your desk, plant your feet firmly on the ground. Bring attention to your feet, feel your feet on the ground and slowly work your way up to your legs, your body, your arms and then your head. How does your body feel, is there tension anywhere? This is a quick version of a body scan that can help when you first arrive at work to relieve the traveling energy you might feel once you arrive to your workplace.
“To be your best, start by being mindful.”