The benefits of practicing mindfulness in the workplace
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benefits of practicing mindfulness in the workplace

The month of May marks a time to re-evaluate wellness within one’s daily life. In the United States, the career-oriented goals that drive people’s busy schedules can add a substantial level of stress to already existing challenges. While ambition and personal tests can drive an individual to accomplish great things, especially in the workplace, excess stress can bring about the exact opposite. Some jobs can also have an environment that breeds social hostility. When these external stressors weigh on a person over a prolonged period of time, psychological and physical symptoms will begin to manifest and impact one’s work performance in a variety of ways.

To combat this business-related trend, various companies like Intel, Google and many other Silicon Valley organizations have incorporated wellness practices into their workplace curriculums. Out of all the different rituals, one particular therapeutic strategy outshined them all: mindfulness. The practice of mindfulness was first brought to a larger, American audience in the 1970s through Jon Kabat-Zinn, a professor of Medicine Emeritus and a student of renowned Buddhist and Zen meditation teachers. In his book, “Mindfulness Meditation for Everyday Life”, Kabat-Zin defines mindfulness as, “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.”

By paying a greater attention to each passing experience as it happens, the practice aims to heighten the awareness of other meaningful ideas. A person will learn that life is made up of different moments and experiences. By engaging oneself in the present, the concepts of value, possibilities and growth become much clearer. In its most natural form, mindfulness is an integrated element of meditation.

Over time, mindfulness has also been adapted to address more focused problems. Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is a variant of the meditative process that is conducted in groups and spans periodic sessions lasting from eight to ten weeks. At its core, this structured version shares all the key concepts of normal mindfulness, but it is utilized more for treatment rather than maintaining daily wellness. Numerous studies have reported that mindfulness alleviated symptoms in individuals with chronic disorders that affect the body and mind. Benefits included lowered stress and anxiousness, reduced blood pressure, improved memory and stabilized moods.

While one’s workplace may seem like the least desirable location to perform meditative practices, the true beauty of mindfulness is its portable nature. Mindfulness can actually be done quite easily and without expending much effort. In just a couple of minutes, an individual can take some needed time out of the work week to get in touch with his or her senses and relation to the environment. Office buildings can be transformed into peaceful temples by simply following these suggested guidelines from Kabat-Zin’s framework:

  • Reminding oneself  that “this is it” and acknowledge that whatever happens, happens.
  • Go outside, if possible, and observe natural occurrences such as moving clouds, dawning light and warmth, cooling breezes or other stimuli.
  • Practice allowing positive events to unfold without forcing them to happen or resisting negative events from happening.
  • Notice when impatient or irritated feelings arise and try to view the situation that caused those emotions in a different way.
  • Try to be generous to others without feeling as though it is a resource that can be exhausted.
  • Recognize when experiences are labeled with restrictive or harsh words, as words are too limited to fully describe life’s precious moments.

The fact that mindfulness strives to keep itself simple adds to its potential at a busy job. In a fast-paced, high intensity environment, one of the most useful tools is the concept of non-action. Non-action is distinct from just relaxing or zoning out of one’s assigned tasks. It takes a conscious effort to shut out the constant interference of work. Instead of having assignments and deadlines floating around one’s thoughts, a person must be able to create a still and peaceful mind clear of clutter. While this may take a certain level of concentration, anyone has the ability to meditate. It is also important to take mental breaks from time to time to strengthen one’s productivity for the rest of the work day.

At Sovereign Health of California, treatment options are available to clients for their respective afflictions. Centers are located in communities all across the state and offer an ever-increasing collection of information that can aid people in managing wellness in their lives. If stress, anxiety or other psychological ailments start to impact your job performance or that of a loved ones, contact our team of consultants online or call (866) 819-0427.

Written by Lee Yates, Sovereign Health Group writer

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