How mindfulness can help at work

It’s no secret that many of us are stressed out at work. Looming deadlines, high workloads, rude customers and more all contribute to a stressful, and sometimes unfavorable, work conditions.  We spend a third or more of our lives at work. Spending that much of our lives means that we should make it as positive of an experience as possible, right? The term “mindfulness” in the stress-reduction capacity means being aware of your stressors. If you’re one of the 80% of Americans that report they’re stressed at work, you may be interested in mindfulness techniques to regain and maintain control of your life at work. Many of our stressors originate in our thoughts — and practicing mindfulness at work can keep you grounded in the present, saving you from the worry and preoccupation of things that you could worry about.

Roll with the punches. Much of our stress comes from an aversion to a bad situation. We can hide from a bad situation, and shy away from or totally avoid it. However, accepting a situation for what it is allows you to take inventory of what is causing the stress — and once you have accepted what the issue is, you can work on solving it and moving forward.

Just breathe. If stress is getting to you, there’s nothing better than forcing your mind to take a break and reset. Take a few deep breaths to clear your mind. Do this whenever you’ve felt like you’ve met “the point.” You know it — it’s when you mind is spinning and you feel like you are being pulled in too many directions. Taking time to take a few deep breaths will infuse your body with oxygen, helping to relax you, and the moment of clarity will allow you to refocus your efforts.

Take a break. Sometimes, getting away is the only situation. Along with taking a few breaths, getting up from your desk helps you see the big world out there — not just the one that’s on your computer monitor. Taking time step away lowers stress, spurs creativity and process information.

Detach. A recent story in the New York Times shows that constantly being plugged into your work email, and being constantly available to your job is bad for your health. Combat this by leaving your phone, and therefore your work email access, back at your desk when you go to lunch. Even better, consider turning your phone off when you leave work once in a while. This unplugging can mean worlds of difference to reduce your stress levels and improve your health.

Spring is springing (for some of us, at least) and with the change in the seasons is it a renewed appetite for exercise. Birds are singing, days are longer and with warmer weather, we’re lacing our running shoes, hitting the volleyball court and pumping up the bike tires. No matter what your sport is, meditation can benefit you. Already popular in the NBA (Phil Jackson personally has used our Omni Ergonomic Meditation Bench to help his athletes!) meditation can help you with one of the most important aspects of any athletic activity: the mental aspect. So, in no particular order, we’re bringing you ways meditation helps athletes:

  • Meditating gets you mentally ready. By putting you in a relaxed mind state, meditating can get you ready for the biggest hurdle in your workout: making your mind cooperate. By promoting mental clarity, you can visualize crossing the finish line or scoring the goal. It helps you focus on the game at hand, and helps you block out all the other worries, stresses or preoccupations one tends to dwell on.
  • Meditating helps you stay well. Meditation has been shown to improve and bolster your immune system. Your immune system not only helps keep you from getting sick, but when you do get a cold that you can’t shake, it helps you get better, quicker. And the faster you get better, the faster you can get back to training.
  • You can train more. Meditation may support muscle recovery. By recovering more quickly, an athlete can make bigger training gains during the course of a season. By putting yourself in a relaxed state, your body responds by tempering the pain found with training. As we all know, dealing with pain is one of the biggest obstacles that prevent athletes from training.
  • It keeps your head in the game. Ever hear of an athlete blowing a crucial shot, maybe costing him the game? Meditation prevents that by training your brain to focus. That mental focus and clarity can be used when you’re faced with being exhausted to keep your head in the game, and keep you focused on how you should be performing.
  • It’ll help you sleep. A good night’s sleep is crucial for any athlete, in any sport. The reduced stress levels that come with a meditation regimen will help you get your 7- hours of restorative sleep that your body requires.

Having a deep interest in meditation for more than 30 years, I’ve learned a few things. One of the most important, though, is how actively meditating has helped me every step of the way. A simple google search will result in everything from simply more relaxing to nearly curing the common cold (your results may vary). However, I’d like to share some of the benefits that I’ve personally experienced. Because of these benefits, I believe that everyone needs to meditate – that is everyone that wants to see improvements in health, mental focus and overall well-being. So, basically — everyone.

  • Improved mental focus: We have many distractions on a daily basis. Our way of life is to constantly be bombarded by external stimuli. Just like a newborn baby, we, as adults, are also susceptible to overstimulation. Worse yet, overstimulation is taken for granted, so much that we are unable to detect when we are overstimulated. As a creative thinker, I am painfully aware of the most grievous result of overstimulation — which is a lack of mental focus. By meditating, I can leave the external influences behind, and focus on regaining mental clarity.
  • Regain perspective: Getting stuck at a red light. Grounds in your morning cup of coffee. A tough day at work. All of our annoyances, anxieties and stressors that we encounter on a daily basis have a cumulative effect. Remember what your parents told you to do as a child, when you’re angry? That’s right, take a deep breath and count to ten. That sounds similar to a meditation mini-session to me. As an adult, that’s still what I do — however, my equivalent to counting to ten is now a 30-minute meditation. By meditating, I’m able to focus on myself and my being in the universe, which helps distract me from the “little things” that can have a negative but profound effect on my life and well-being. This also segues into my next point.
  • Less stress: Stress is a very toxic element of our busy daily life. I know many people who have been warned by their doctor to decrease the amount of stress in their lives. It can cause myriad adverse health effects, from chronic sleeplessness to heart disease. Meditation results in a deeper relaxation and a feeling of refreshment that can help reduce stress. Not only can a lower amount of stress in your life lead to a happier life, it can lead to a longer life as well.

My reasons are few, but profound. If you’re looking to start meditating, there’s no better time to start than now! And now you have three excellent reasons to give it a try. In an upcoming post, we’ll delve into how to get started in meditation.