How can mindfulness reduce stress at work? Here’s 3 great places to start.
Stress. It becomes part of our lives from the day we start school and, if you look around, it only seems to get worse as we get older.
It appears that the more successful you become, the more stressed you get.
But what if we told you it doesn’t have to be that way? That there’s something you could do every day to reduce stress at work?
Introducing mindfulness, the ultimate stressbuster.
Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention in the present moment, non-judgmentally. It teaches your brain to slow down and focus on the present moment with full awareness, even in a world filled with busyness and distractions.
The most obvious and perhaps most important benefit of mindfulness is its power to reduce stress. And when your career is just starting out, how you manage stress could mean the difference between skyrocketing or crashing and burning.
Here’s what you need to know about how mindfulness can reduce stress at work, and some strategies to implement today.
How mindfulness can reduce stress at work
We all know what it feels like to be stressed. Your heart pounds, breathing quickens and palms begin to sweat. It might mean you struggle to sleep or focus on one thing. Some people even struggle to string a sentence together when stress hits.
Saying that mindfulness can reduce stress seems too good to be true. Does it really work?
Science says yes.
Lots of research has proven that mindfulness has a positive impact on stress. A 2012 study shows that eight weeks of mindfulness training can reduce social anxiety, depression and stress more effectively than aerobic exercise. Added to that, research at the University of Cambridge has shown that mindfulness training can reduce levels of distress in university students during exam periods
How does mindfulness work?
It all comes down to controlling your mind (but not in a Jedi way).
The Harvard Business Review explains that brain activity is redirected from the limbic system to the prefrontal cortex – in other words, from the reactionary part of your brain to the rational part.
This means we change the way we react to everything, relying less on impulse and more on considered actions.
The upshot is that even in the most challenging situations, whether at home, work or in traffic, you are able to think clearly and not allow stress to take over.
How long does mindfulness take to work?
That depends on how much you practice. Meditation has been scientifically proven to help relieve stress after just eight weeks of a regular practice.
The trick is to be consistent. The more you can train your mind, the better it will respond when you find yourself in stressful situations
The sooner you get started, the sooner you can reap the rewards.
Here are 3 ways to start practicing mindfulness today:
#1 Pay attention to your senses
Our senses are the way we interpret the world around us. The problem is, we’re often too busy or distracted to pay attention.
Use this quick 5,4,3,2,1 exercise to bring your mind back to your senses:
- Notice 5 things you can see. Look around and focus on things you can see. Really look and pay attention to the small things.
- Notice 4 things you can feel. Can you feel a cool breeze, the soft carpet under your feet?
- Notice 3 things you can hear. What are the sounds – close and far away?
- Notice 2 things you can smell. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know what they are (sometimes it’s better that way!), just notice them.
- Notice 1 thing you can taste. It might be the faint taste of your morning coffee or toothpaste.
#2 Take a quick time out
Perhaps the simplest thing to do is find a way to come back to the present moment throughout the day, andt doesn’t have to mean finding a space to stretch and do some Ohmmmmms.
Think about it as pausing for short moments, multiple times throughout the day. Let’s say you’re waiting for your computer to start up. Rather than take out your phone and scan Instagram, try a pause with purpose:
Check in with your body.
- Some people find meditation difficult, so try listening to a YouTube video that takes you through a body scan. It’s simply a way of checking in with different parts of your body and focusing the mind.
- Did your mind start to wander as you did this? Bring it back to your breath.
- When you’re ready, go back to your activity.
#3 Just S.T.O.P.
When you are experiencing a particularly stressful moment, try this popular mindfulness exercise known as S.T.O.P:
- Stop. Take a moment to pause, no matter what you’re doing.
- Take a breath. Feel the sensation of breathing in and out, which is the easiest way to bring you back to the present moment.
- Observe. Acknowledge what is happening, inside you or out. Just note it – no need to do anything.
- Proceed. Continue whatever it was you were doing.
Over to you
Don’t wait until your career is melting down to try these simple mindfulness exercises. Add them to your routine now, practice every day, and by the time you apply for that next promotion you’ll be able to leverage mindfulness to manage stressful situations like a boss!
Mindfulness isn’t the only way to manage stress – discover even more strategies to try in Hodie app, for free, today!