Headaches, digestive issues, insomnia and fatigue, irritability, poor work performance and a loss of initiative. These are some of the way work-related stress can affect us
Mindfulness is gaining popularity as a stress reducer among individuals who would typically not look to meditation as a form of therapy. It has been shown to be able to relieve workplace stress while also reducing frustration and burnout.
If you’re feeling symptoms of work-related stress, you should consider incorporating some mindfulness techniques to your workday. In addition to reducing on-the-job stress, it can help you maintain a greater degree of focus, build self-confidence and prevent distractions from slowing you down.
Mindfulness has its origins in Buddhist meditation traditions, but you don’t need to study with a Zen Master to learn how to reduce work-related stress. As it relates to modern psychology and therapeutic techniques, mindfulness refers to the ability to be aware of your moment-to-moment experiences without letting them become the center of your attention. You instead relate to your experiences in a non-judgmental manner and with a sense of curiosity.
Employers have noticed the benefits of mindfulness in the workplace. When employees can reduce or eliminate stress, their performance improves and productivity increases. This means less absenteeism, a reduction in employee turnaround and an overall increase in workforce morale. It’s not hard to see why companies such as Aetna, General Mills and Google have implemented employee mindfulness programs.
Here are a few ways you can incorporate mindfulness into your everyday workday:
Limit or eliminate the time you spend multi-tasking
You may feel like you’re more productive while multi-tasking. However, it has been shown you are actually less efficient. Work on one thing at a time and focus your attention on the details of what you’re currently doing.
Don’t let your mind wander from what you’re doing
Resist the urge to follow a train of thought that’s removed from what you’re working on.
Be aware of what’s going on inside you
Focus on how you feel about what you’re doing, but don’t be judgmental. Observe your actions and feelings and take notes mentally. Don’t categorize anything as good or bad.
Focus on what’s going on outside of you
Remain aware of the physical sensations of your actions, such as the movement of your hands on a computer keyboard or the sensation of the chair you’re sitting on.
Turn off all the distractions you can
Text messages, emails and phone calls can pull your focus away from what you’re doing. Don’t check for messages until you’ve gotten to the end of the time you’ve allotted for the task at hand.
Don’t give in to the fight-or-flight impulse
When things appear challenging or overwhelming, stop and review your options without reacting automatically.
Spend at least five minutes concentrating on one of your senses
This can be the sensation of deep breathing or an undistracted snack break. Concentrate on nothing but the air entering and exiting your lungs or focus your undivided attention on what you’re eating.
Dan Gellman is the Director of High Focus Centers, a provider of outpatient substance abuse and psychiatric treatment programs in New Jersey.