For busy employees and managers with barely enough time in the day for a decent meal, the last thing they’d want to do is slow down and take a breather. When deadlines are at the top of your priority, and back-to-back meetings are your life, ain’t nobody got time to be mindful.
But by not being mindful, you could be self-sabotaging yourself instead!
Rooted in Buddhism, the definition of mindfulness is best interpreted as a meditation practice where a person focuses solely on what they’re feeling in the moment. No judgement, no explication – just sensing everything around you, there and then.
From the warmth of your fingertips and the feel of your breath, to the hum of the air purifier and birds twittering outside: The practice of mindfulness involves simple breathing techniques, guided imagery, and other methods to help your body relax and destress.
Hustling to get the job done is applaudable, but can cause mental health issues such as anxiety, stress, and depression to surface. In Great Britain, 50% of work-related ill health cases in 2020/2021 were attributed to depression or anxiety.
At the core of mindfulness are two components to provide mental health relief: 1) Awareness of your emotions and, 2) An open, accepting attitude that lets you accept what arises instead of pushing it down and away.
For starters, it can enhance your overall well-being, performance, attention, sleep, and decrease burnout, depression, anxiety, and stress, among others. A 2014 workplace study found that employees who joined an online mindfulness program were less stressed, more resilient, and more energetic than employees who didn’t take the class.
It can also transform you into a better employee, team lead, manager, company director, and overall person. By being mindful, we can suspend judgement and approach experiences with kindness and empathy – both to ourselves and others.
Like other practices, mindfulness can be built and strengthened. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and likewise, the benefits of being mindful only start becoming measurable after 100 minutes of practice. There are no shortcuts: Just patience, acceptance, and simple mindfulness exercises you can do whenever you’re feeling tense.
1) Sit in silence
Bookmark this easy practice as a quick, 1-minute mindfulness meditation that can be done anywhere as long as you’re seated.
More than just being tuned into your thoughts and emotions, mindfulness is about being aware of your body too. The best time to stretch is right after you wake up, but it can be done anytime during the day to wake your muscles up.
3) It’s okay to S.T.O.P.
When you’re under stress, know that it’s okay to stop. And by STOP, we mean:
4) Slower speed, maximum efficiency
Busy bees may not be eager to spend time being mindful because that means wasted time and efficiency. Wrong. By slowing your pace or completely taking a pause, levels of efficiency, productivity, happiness, and even resilience at work can increase.
Perceive mindfulness as quality rest or sleep. Without it, your efficiency dips down below and could lead to hasty, impractical decisions. Highly functional employees, leaders, and entrepreneurs slow down to reflect and produce better solutions. That’s mindfully working.
5) Feel gratitude
"Make one mistake and everyone will remember it. Make countless good deeds and no one will." This is our ingrained ‘negativity bias’ speaking. Unfortunately, that means we adopt a constantly negative, unbalanced school of thought.
The cure? Gratitude. Practising gratitude daily can impact your health, relationships, creativity, output, etc. postively. In other words, sometimes it’s about looking at the glass as half-full instead of half-empty; reframing our outlook to positivity.
6) Take and savour your lunch
Ready for the most revolutionary lunch idea ever? Here it is: On your lunch break, eat your lunch.
It’s one hour mandatorily allotted (in most countries) for you to take a break and feed yourself. Don’t fiddle with your phone or think about work. Just eat and savour your food. When you respect your lunch hour, others will too, so set an example for a healthy work environment!
By integrating mindfulness as part of your daily routine, you’ll be able to stay grounded and manage your emotions better. It doesn’t need to take up a huge amount of time either – just a few minutes will do.
The key to mindfulness, however, is continuity and consistency. Dedicate a few minutes in the morning to mindful practices, or channel it between tasks at work to get your focus back on track.
1) Smiling Mind
Cost: 7-day free trial. Subscriptions begin at $14.99/month, $69.99/year, or a lifetime membership of $399.99. Teams of five or more get a 15% discount.
Apple App Store: Download here
Google Play Store: Download here
4) The Mindfulness App
If you need even more encouragement to be mindful, know this: Even big conglomerates such as Intel and Google are all aboard the mindfulness train!
At Intel, employees slow down to speed up as part of the Awake@Intel program. Incorporating yoga and mindfulness practices, employees were at first sceptic but reported positive results after attending the program.
Spearheaded by Google in 2007, the mindfulness program, Search Inside Yourself, focuses on attention training, self-knowledge, creating mental habits, and emotional intelligence. It’s so popular among Googlers that it has a six months waiting period for enrollment.
1) What does mindfulness feel like?
There is no definite answer. Mindfulness is not a particular experience or state your mind and body falls into. Rather, the deepening of the feeling of the experience you have at the moment. It could be good or bad – but it’s about acknowledging and accepting your feelings and thoughts.
2) Is there a difference between mindfulness and meditation?
Meditation is just one way to practice mindfulness, so yes, there's a difference. Mindfulness is something you can practice anywhere, anytime, and with anyone. Whereas meditation is mostly a seated practice focused on opening your heart, breath, and focus.
3) Is mindfulness a religious practice?
No, because although mindfulness stems from Buddhist traditions, the practice of mindfulness is spiritual rather than religious. It does not rely on cultural or religious beliefs, and can be practised by anybody with faith, or without!
4) Is mindfulness suitable for me?
Everyone has their preference, so don’t sweat it if mindfulness doesn’t seem like your thing. If you would like more control over your thoughts, being mindful could help instead of letting your thoughts control you.
Your problems won’t magically disappear by being mindful, but it allows you to acknowledge, accept, and see past them with a better perspective.
5) Who can practice mindfulness?
Anyone! Kids, teens, adults, senior citizens – literally anyone can be mindful. It’s never too late to teach an old dog new tricks, and mindfulness can better your thought process, relationships, and how you perceive yourself too.
The human body is like a well-oiled machine; full of gears and wires and bits and bobs that keep us going. When one component starts to break down, it affects the other parts and processes.
Incorporating mindfulness and taking care of your emotional health is one way to keep yourself and your mind well-rested and well-balanced. For employees, sometimes going to work every day and having fun is a way to lift your mood, productivity, and stay at the top of your game. After all, all work and no play makes Jackie a dull person!