Feb 5, 2016 — TrackFive

Practicing Mindfulness in the Workplace

When you’re at work, appointments and family obligations are running through your mind. And when you’re at home, meetings, projects, and other work responsibilities are cluttering your brain. It is not uncommon for someone to have trouble focusing on the task at hand, so how do we overcome this work-home balancing act? Simple. Begin practicing mindfulness—a growing movement that is buzzing among Millennials and Baby Boomers alike.

So what is mindfulness, you may ask? According to Psychology Today, mindfulness is a state of open, active attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience.

Practicing Mindfulness in the Workplace

Mindfulness is more than a philosophy. This modern movement is derived from ancient Buddhist roots, and since then, there is strong scientific evidence that backs up the notion that mindfulness actually changes the way the brain works. Through mindfulness, individuals can improve their work-life balance, and mindfulness is something all leaders in the workplace should know about.

From a study, it was determined that eight different areas of the brain are affected as a result of mindfulness, two of which hold significant interest to business professionals.

The Brains Behind Mindfulness

  1. The anterior cingulate cortex, or ACC, helps self-regulate tasks and activities. If the ACC were to become damaged, the individual will act impulsively and hold onto ineffective problem-solving strategies, and the lack of mental flexibility will make it difficult to adapt to new methods of behavior. The ACC also helps with decision making and learning from past experiences.
  1. The hippocampus is buried inside the temple and is associated with emotion and memory. In addition, the hippocampus is covered in cortisol receptors, which can be damaged by stress and stress-related disorders such as depression and PTSD. Essentially, the hippocampus regulates how resilient the brain is to outside stressors.

Practicing mindfulness can improve:

  • Perception
  • Body awareness
  • Pain tolerance
  • Emotion regulation
  • Introspection
  • Complex thinking
  • and a sense of self.

While it is fairly new to introduce spiritual methods in the business world, mindfulness is slowly making the transition from a “nice to have” trait to a “must-have” way of thought among executives.

Some Means of Mindfulness in the Workplace

Embrace your surroundings: Sink into your chair, breathe in the scents around you, take a good look at the office decor. Allow yourself to make use of all of your senses from the time you brew your cup of coffee in the morning until the moment you exchange goodbyes with your coworkers.

Replace complaints with gratitude: Each time you feel the urge to complain, take a moment to reflect on all there is to be thankful for. No job or working environment is perfect (although it can come pretty close), so embrace all the good surrounding you instead of feeding negative thoughts.

Keep a list or journal: Making a list can be utilized to jot down thoughts without distracting yourself from work, whereas taking a few minutes at the beginning and end of the workday can alleviate stress and give you the freedom to let your innermost thoughts loose.

Remember to breathe: Too often, we become overwhelmed with tasks and planning. Whenever this happens, make use of meditation techniques. It’s amazing how much peace a few moments of mindful meditation can bring.

Easy enough, right? As Lao Tzu once said:

“If you are depressed you are living in the past.

If you are anxious you are living in the future.

If you are at peace you are living in the present.”

I think it’s safe to say that the ancient poets and philosophers were way ahead of their time.

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