What’s the difference between being mindful at work compared to at home? Mindfulness for work has been shown to improve our productivity and overall health.
Are you looking for ways to become more productive at work? Mindfulness has been proven to improve focus, concentration, creativity, productivity, happiness, and even physical health and wellbeing.
In this article, we cover how mindfulness can benefit your career by propelling your productivity in the workplace through simple techniques you can implement today.
Let’s start with…
What is Mindfulness?
- Mindfulness is a state of awareness where your attention is focused on the present moment without judgment, thoughts, or interference. When done correctly, mindfulness improves focus, increases creativity, decreases stress, and leads to increased happiness and well-being.
- Mindfulness has been rising in popularity over the last few years. This is largely thanks to the growing number of meditation apps such as Headspace or Calm. These apps provide guided meditations to teach you to practice mindfulness.
- Mindfulness is considered one of the best ways to stay calm and in control when you feel stressed out. The goal is to learn how to be present in the moment rather than thinking about the future or past. Mindfulness is extra beneficial when you are having trouble sleeping at night or feeling anxious during a difficult situation.
- Mindfulness is about accepting things as they are. This is similar to meditation, except that in meditation there is a focused attention on the breath. Mindfulness can help us to avoid making bad decisions when we’re stressed out. Many people practice mindfulness through yoga or meditation.
- Mindfulness is a state of awareness, where we observe our thoughts, feelings, and sensations without reacting to them. Being mindful helps us develop better relationships, be more successful at work, help others resolve conflicts, become happier, and live longer. The power of mindfulness lies in its ability to transform negative emotions, such as fear, anger, and jealousy into positive emotions, such as serenity and compassion.
The link between mindfulness and job performance
“Mindfulness should no longer be considered a “nice-to-have” for executives. It’s a “must-have: a way to keep our brains healthy, to support self-regulation and effective decision-making capabilities, and to protect ourselves from toxic stress. It can be integrated into one’s religious or spiritual life, or practiced as a form of secular mental training. When we take a seat, take a breath, and commit to being mindful, particularly when we gather with others who are doing the same, we have the potential to be changed.” –
Harvard Business Review
Studies show that there are a wide range of benefits of mindfulness at work. It cultivates an environment that looks after employee well-being while reducing work-related stress. However, perhaps one of the biggest reasons why companies like Google invest so heavily into mindfulness is because they know that it has the potential to directly impact their employees’ productivity which allows them to perform better at their job and further creates an environment of mindful employees.
So let’s take a look at the role of mindfulness and the benefits it has in the workplace…
10 Benefits of Meditation or Mindfulness in the workplace
1. Elevating your focus and minimizing distractions
As mentioned above, mindfulness helps us focus on what matters. This means that if you’re trying to get something done, you’ll be more likely to stay focused on the task at hand rather than getting distracted by things like email notifications, phone calls, etc. This translates into mono-tasking rather than multi-tasking which provides for better quality and more efficient completed work. It decreases the “doing a lot at once but getting nothing done” type of working style.
2. Increases creativity, innovation, and divergent thinking
As we know meditation is a mindfulness practice. A recent study by researchers at Stanford University found that those who meditate regularly are more creative than non-meditators. In fact, they found that meditation increases creativity by up to 50%. While not all types of meditation lead to increased creativity, it seems that certain styles of meditation are especially conducive to creativity. For example, Transcendental Meditation has been shown to increase creativity in artists, while Zen Buddhism encourages creativity through a process called koans.
Mindfulness cultivates a positive frame of mind which enhances the parts of our brain that controls creative thinking and self-expression. When we focus on the present moment (or the task at hand) we create a free-thinking and open-minded mental state which increases our capability to think innovatively. We are also more receptive to others’ ideas and can then effectively bounce ideas off of them.
3. Higher emotional intelligence
Emotions are a part of life, and they are not always positive. However, if you are able to manage them effectively, then they become less overwhelming. In addition to managing emotions, mindfulness also increases emotional intelligence, which means that you are more aware of what you feel and why you feel it. You are able to understand yourself and others better, and you are more empathetic. These two qualities are essential to leadership because they allow us to lead with compassion and empathy.
Mindfulness meditation helps increase emotional intelligence in three major ways: It improves your ability to comprehend your own emotions; It helps you learn how to recognize the emotions of other people around you; It strengthens your ability to govern and control your emotions. He also notes that mindfulness improves a person’s ability to use their emotions effectively by helping them determine which emotions are beneficial when undertaking certain activities. (behavioralessentials.com)
4. Easier and efficient communication
Through the practice of being in the present moment, we increase our ability to be attentive listeners and therefore observant communicators. We approach conversations or even business deals with a lot more compassion, empathy, and kindness which makes people feel heard and feel like they can trust you. We naturally, therefore, practice more effective ways to negotiate and come to better understandings of who we are doing business with and how to handle the energetic and financial transaction with sensitivity.
5. Reduces work-related Stress
This is an obvious one and one of the biggest benefits that mindfulness meditation offers us. Chronic stress is a huge global problem within the modern world and it has led to the rise of many mental health issues. Mindfulness-based stress reduction as well as other mindfulness-based interventions are growing ever more popular. Research has shown that mindfulness reduces stress levels. In addition, a recent study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Medicine found that mindfulness meditation may reduce blood pressure more than traditional relaxation techniques.
6. Helps You Be More Productive
In his book “Deep Work,” Cal Newport cites research showing that people who practice mindfulness are able to complete tasks more efficiently because they’re less distracted. They’re also able to stay focused on a task longer without getting bored.
7. Making conscious choices
When we become present and more focused we can rationally and mindfully think about the choices we should be making. Mindfulness enhances our decision-making and rational thinking.
8. Decreases chances of burnout or emotional exhaustion
Meditation on a biochemical level creates a happier brain as it releases a lot of neurotransmitters such as oxytocin, dopamine, and endorphins while decreasing stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. A healthy and happy brain means a less stressed out brain and a less stressed out brain results in an overall positive mental state. Burnout is caused by excessive stress so when we decrease our overall stress we decrease our chances of developing mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion or burnout.
9. Cultivates a work-life balance
Meditation or mindfulness also taps into the concept of introspection. We start to realize a lot about ourselves and the way we live our lives. We come to notice what matters in order for us to lead our most abundant lives. This creates a much healthier work-life balance and we know that rest and time off are just as important as working.
In fact, this can often make us more productive in the long run. It is high time that the ideas pertaining to “grind-culture” are dissolved. Busyness does not equate to success. We learn to enjoy life beyond the office and also pursue careers that truly make us happier and healthier. It also separates our professional and personal life which is important to distinguish between as we then don’t wrap our identities in our work or what we do.
10. Can create everlasting change
With more and more companies moving into introducing mindfulness programs or mindfulness training into the workplace, business and the way companies are being run is changing. Health and overall employee wellbeing are coming to the forefront. The great thing about positive change is it leads to a snowball effect of more positive change and therefore can lead to changing our work environment (where we spend on average 40 hours a week which is a huge chunk of our lives) and mindset towards it can create a huge change in other aspects of our lives which could further have a positive impact on others.
So then how practically can this be achieved?
8 ways to practice mindfulness for work and improve mental health
It seems like mindfulness would be an excellent thing to practice at any time, but how do you actually go about doing so when you’re already too stressed out from trying to get everything done before leaving for home?
In addition to dealing with email, phone calls, meetings, and presentations, you might need to handle customer service issues too. Of course, your own work too! As you’re trying to get through all that, how can mindfulness help you be more aware and present, and at the same time be productive?
Meditation doesn’t necessarily mean sitting cross-legged for hours each day. It means focusing attention deliberately on one thing (such as breathing) when experiencing stress. Here are some ways you can inject mindfulness moments into your daily work life so you can relax and be at your best.
1. Be present
The first step is to make sure you’re consciously present when you’re working. This means not checking email or social media while you’re on the job. It also means not multitasking, which is often done by switching back and forth between tasks. Instead, focus on one task at a time and try to complete it fully before moving on to the next thing. When you’re conscious about what you’re doing, you’ll find yourself less distracted and more focused.
2. Implement mindfulness exercises
If you want to practice mindfulness at work, try using short exercises throughout the day. These could include taking three deep breaths, focusing on an object such as your desk, or simply noticing your physical sensations. Many people find that a quick five-minute exercise helps them stay focused and calm. For example:
Breathe slowly and deeply through your nose. Focus on each breath as it comes in and out.
When you focus on one thing at a time, you’re less likely to be distracted by external stimuli. By focusing on one task at a time, you’ll also be less stressed because you won’t be worrying about anything else. It’s important to note that multitasking doesn’t necessarily lead to increased productivity. Instead, it leads to decreased productivity because you aren’t fully engaged in any given activity.
4. Set a reminder
Setting a ‘mindful reminder’ shakes you out of auto-pilot mode. Try these reminders:
Set an alarm on your phone – even if it’s just a vibration.
Every time your phone vibrates, breathe deeply and relax. You don’t need to react right away when you receive an incoming text message; instead, take some time to stop and think before responding. In every situation, there’s an opportunity for us to return to our senses and be fully aware of ourselves and our environment. When faced with demands, tasks, and/or challenges, instead of reacting by immediately doing something, pause for a moment and think before acting.
5. Take Breaks
Taking breaks during the day is essential for maintaining your productivity. It’s important to take regular breaks throughout the day, whether you’re working at home or at an office. Taking regular breaks allows your body to relax and rejuvenate, which improves your focus and concentration. It also gives you time to reflect on what you’ve been doing.
6. Slow down
When deadlines are on the table and work needs to get done we tend to rush in order to complete what we need to do. Slowing down however and taking your time is a way more efficient way to increase productivity.
Being in a panicky rush leads to bad decisions and is a misuse of energy. Instead, pause, focus on listening, stroll rather than run, and generally take your time when at work. Effective leaders, workers, and entrepreneurs slow down and reflect to make the best decisions and actions they slow down to speed up. That’s a mindful way of working. (mindful.org)
7. Change the narrative around stress
Make Stress Your Friend
Recent research conducted at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, asked 30,000 people the same question: “Does the perception that stress affects health matter?” The results were astonishing.
The researchers found that people experiencing high levels of stress but who believed that stress was good for them had among the lowest mortality rates. Whereas highly stressed people who believed that stress was bad for their health had the highest chance of dying. Your beliefs about stress clearly affect how they impact your health and well-being. Another study even found that the blood vessels constricted (as is seen in those with heart disease) in people who believed that stress was bad for them, but stayed open and healthy in those who believed that stress was good for them.
To get rid of stress, you must first learn to see it for what it really is—a signal from your brain telling you something needs attention.
With mindfulness, you can learn to perceive things differently. When faced with challenges at work, pay attention to how your body reacts when things get stressful. You may be surprised by what you find out! After observing these responses, change your approach so that instead of responding negatively, you respond positively.
Being thankful for the stress response helps us cope better when we’re stressed out. Your body is preparing itself for an upcoming physical challenge by increasing its blood flow through your muscles. A faster heartbeat sends more oxygen throughout your body. Being grateful for the fact that the process sharpens your senses and boosts your immunity. When viewed through this lens, any stressful situation becomes an opportunity for self-growth rather than something to be avoided. A positive attitude has been proven time after time to be one of the most important factors for success in both personal and professional lives.
8. Adopting a growth mindset
Mindful means “paying attention” or having an attitude of openness toward change and this can teach us to adopt a ‘growth mindset’. Being mindful means paying close attention to the current situation without judgment, and being receptive to new opportunities. Recognizing your innate talents. If you adopt a growth mindset when working, you’ll be less bothered by receiving criticism from others because you’re willing to learn from any mistakes. You enjoy taking on new responsibilities because they provide you with an opportunity to learn something new.
You expect and move toward challenges because they’re an opportunity for personal growth. That’s the essence of mindfulness at play when we believe that we can improve and grow through our experiences, facing challenges head-on, living in the present, and growing by discovering new things about ourselves and each other.
Here are 5 quick tips for mindfulness and work:
1. Take a break from work every hour or so.
2. Walk around the office and move your body, even if it’s just for five minutes – especially if you find yourself getting distracted.
3. Meditate before you start working.
4. Eat a healthy snack like fruit or nuts when you get hungry.
5. When you have an important meeting, take some deep breaths beforehand.
5 minute meditation at work – Meditation on success
So all in all mindfulness can elevate us and our careers to new levels and all it takes is a few minutes of conscious effort within our daily lives in order to reap the benefits.