Practicing some degree of mindfulness at work can help you focus on your job, get along better with co-workers and management, and give you confidence, thereby reducing job stress.
Greater Good:The Science of a Meaningful Life website defines mindfulness as maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment. It involves acceptance of our thoughts and feelings without judging them as they occur in the present moment. Mindfulness has its origins in Buddhist meditation, but a popular secular version of mindfulness is Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) first introduced by Jon Kabat-Zinn.
Benefits of Practicing Mindfulness
Greater Good outlines some benefits of practicing mindfulness:
- It’s good for our bodies, because it boosts our immune system.
- It’s good for our minds, because it increases positive emotions and reduces negative emotions and stress.
- It helps our brains with learning, memory, emotion regulation, and empathy.
- It helps us focus by enabling us to tune out distractions and improve memory and attention skills.
Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction and Reaction Control (MBSR)
According to Will Baum, LCSW in the Psychology Today web article, “Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction: What it is, How it Helps” the key to MBSR is learning to control our reaction to stress. The author quotes psychiatrist Viktor Frankl as saying, “Between stimulus and response there’s a space, in that space lies our power to choose our response, in our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
There is a moment of choice before we react to stress and pain. Most of us are unaware of this space between stimulus and response because we use habitual patterns of reacting to stimulus. The MBSR technique helps people to become aware of negative habitual reactions and choose positive ways to react.
Using Mindfulness to Reduce Work Stress
According to author Carolyn Gregoire in her article, “Mindfulness at Work: 5 Tricks for a Healthier, Less Stressful Work Day” the majority of employed Americans are stressed out by their jobs, but these five mindfulness techniques may make people feel more in control of their everyday work lives:
- Practice strategic acceptance by accepting the way you currently feel.
- Take a three minute breathing space. Stop what you’re doing and concentrate on your breath and sensations at the moment.
- Tune into distractions around you. By paying attention to the sounds around you instead of ignoring them you can become aware of the effect they’re having on you and control your reactions.
- Taking regular breaks during the workday can boost productivity and creativity.
- Find a time to unplug. Staying connected to the internet and email all day (in and outside of work) could make us distracted, impatient and forgetful. Taking even short breaks from technology can lower stress and boost productivity.
Practicing mindfulness helps you learn a lot about yourself. By practicing it just a few days I’ve learned what stimuli make me happy and which make me sad and why. This has allowed me to learn to control my reactions. It has also helped me to tune into other people and their needs and greatly improved my ability to focus. The most important benefit for me has been not just trying to emulate the positive qualities I see in others, but being able to accept myself for who I am and really liking myself.
About the Author: Linda Barnes is a management and program analyst with the Federal Government where she specializes in human resource and administrative matters. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Marketing from Northeastern Illinois University and a MPA degree from American Public University.