Mindfulness is a term we all see pop up a lot nowadays. But what does mindfulness actually mean, why is it useful and how can we encourage and practice mindfulness at work?
Let’s start with some common definitions of mindfulness:
The Oxford dictionary defines mindfulness as: “A mental state achieved by concentrating on the present moment, while calmly accepting the feelings and thoughts that come to you, used as a technique to help you relax.
Mindful.org says “Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us”
And the American Phycology Association says mindfulness is “…a moment-to-moment awareness of one’s experience without judgment. In this sense, mindfulness is a state and not a trait. While it might be promoted by certain practices or activities, such as meditation, it is not equivalent to or synonymous with them.”
Mindfulness is about being fully aware in the present moment. It can manifest in practices such as meditation, but you can practice mindfulness doing day to day tasks. It’s not about emptying your brain of thoughts, but rather acknowledging thoughts with non-judgmental awareness.
So why is being mindful a beneficial thing to practice? What good does it actually do?
Being mindful helps support attitudes that help you live a more fulfilling, calmer life.
Let’s take gratitude, for example. By paying attention to the present, you give notice and appreciation to things around you that you otherwise wouldn’t. The warm sunshine on your face, the colours of a flower garden on your way to work, the flavours of your meal. We’re so overstimulated that we often forget to slow down, appreciate moments and practice gratitude, all of which do a great deal to improve your mood.
Mindfulness has also proven to be a highly effective tool for those living with mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. Being truly present means we aren’t caught up in the worries of the future or the regrets of the past. Mindfulness encourages deep feelings of calm and contentment, which helps people sleep better, relieve stress and feel more confident.
Why mindfulness at work is particularly important:
We spend a lot of time at work, which is usually where most of us lack mindful behaviour…
Work switches us into autopilot mode. We get up at the same time each day, take the same route to work, sit at the same desk, get coffee from the same shop. We have a lot on our plate. We’re worrying about the things we need to get done and we’re questioning whether the things we’ve already done are good enough.
Practicing mindfulness at work can help you become more focussed, calmer, happier and more confident. Here’s our top four tips for practising mindfulness in the workplace.
#1 Create mindfulness cues
Even if we intend to be mindful at work, it’s easy for stress and overwhelm to distract us. One way to realign and remind yourself to return to mindfulness is to create personal cues. For example, everytime you take a sip of water, or everytime you hear a car honk – can be your cue to come back to the present moment.
#2 Rethink Productivity
We’ve been fed a false misconception that productivity is related to the length of time you spend working on something. However, being truly productive is not about the amount of time you spend doing something, rather your mindset and the quality of the work you’re producing.
In order to produce high quality work, you need to be mindful. Be aware of how you’re feeling, and ask yourself what it is you need to complete your task to the best of your ability. Is it a walk in nature? A conversation with a colleague? Or a power hour of solid focus? The key to unlocking productivity is to tune into the present moment, and give yourself what you need. It’s unlikely that locking yourself up and putting your head down for the whole day is the answer.
One of the most popular ways to practice mindfulness is by meditating. Work, for many people, is a hub of stress, anxiety and burnout, but it doesn’t have to be. You can avoid these unwanted feelings by introducing meditation to your workplace, jumping on the bandwagon of many progressive companies like Google, HBO…and LKO!
#4 Educate & Practice
To truly master mindfulness at work, you need to put in the time. Read about the methods of mindfulness, practice them and start a conversation with your colleagues about how you can introduce mindfulness into your workplace. Maybe it’s a group meditation session each day, a course you can take together, a guest speaker or a group membership to a mindfulness app.
We spend so much of our time at work, and it’s important that we put in the effort to make it a place of calm, fulfilment and happiness. Through practicing mindfulness at work, we can take big steps to achieving those goals.
Want to know more about running a business that puts wellness and mindfulness at the forefront? Get in touch!