Being Mindful at work

We might think that meditating for 30 minutes a day is what we need to do to instil a calm presence in ourselves and our lives.  There is screeds to research to back up the fact that meditation calms and protects our spiritual, mental, emotional and physical health. But there are other ways of bringing stillness into our day – especially during a challenging work day.Being MINDFUL is one such way.

For those of you who haven’t dipped your toes in the mindfulness pool yet – Mindfulness is all about being in the present moment, staying in it, not forward into the future nor back into the past but just staying right there – in the moment.

Mindfulness practise allows you to just observe the flow of your thoughts, emotions, what your body is doing – no judgement – just observing and allowing them to be, we notice external sounds too, we use other senses to notice things we might not normally have noticed.

Think about the calm you would feel if you weren’t focussing on what might happen (but usually never does) next week or something that happened 10 years ago.

Mindfulness practises are so helpful for taming anxiety and panic attacks and regulating the nervous system – which of course means everything else works so much better including the gut – which has a nervous system especially built into those undulating folds of the digestive tract.

According to the Harvard University mindfulness team, the proven benefits of mindfulness include:

  • Increasing your capacity for mindfulness supports many attitudes that contribute to a satisfied life.
  • Being mindful makes it easier to savour the pleasures in life as they occur, helps you become fully engaged in activities, and creates a greater capacity to deal with adverse events.
  • By focusing on the here and now, many people who practice mindfulness find that they are less likely to get caught up in worries about the future or regrets over the past, are less preoccupied with concerns about success and self-esteem, and are better able to form deep connections with others.
  • helps relieve stress
  • treats heart disease
  • lowers blood pressure
  • reduce chronic pain
  • improve sleep
  • alleviate gastrointestinal difficulties
  • substance abuse
  • eating disorders
  • couples’ conflicts
  • anxiety disorders
  • obsessive-compulsive disorder

Some experts believe that mindfulness works, in part, by helping people to accept their experiences—including painful emotions—rather than react to them with aversion and avoidance. (Mindfulness, 2016)

One way to incorporate a litle mindfulness into your day is to practise some simple techniques at work. You’re reading this and thinking – well how do I do that?  I’ ve  got emails to answer, phone calls to make, and my co-worker will not stop talking, I have to (insert your own task here) …. I get that. It’s like that here in clinic.

I’ve found the easiest way to incorporate a little stillness is just to do one of the steps below every few hours, they literally take a few minutes – who can’t afford to take a few minutes out of their day for self-care?. For those who say they can’t I say “who can’t afford to take a few minutes out of their day for self-care” if you get my drift…

 

  1. TAKE TIME TO BE PRESENT

It’s about being aware of your surroundings and where your fit into that – it can be as simple as stopping and feeling the chair you are sitting in against your butt! Seriously. It is acknowledging things right down to what’s going on directly  around you and within you. 

  1. One way to do this is to follow this little exercise:
  • Name 3 things you see
  • Name 2 things you hear
  • Name 1 thing you feel or smell
  1. Give each task your full attention. Each time your mind wanders, and it will, or someone or something disturbs you just bring the focus back to what you are doing
  2. Make that clear commitment that you are going to do this – give it a week and see how you feel at the end of it
  3. Giving full attention to even mundane tasks like washing the dishes, washing your hands, taking a few deep breaths at your desk is a mindfulness break in itself.
  4. It’s not realistic to be able to take a 30-minute meditation break in the middle of a busy working day so this is where short practises can be so helpful as they help to rebalance your nervous system – this means you will be calmer and more alert. By slowing things down like this we stop releasing excess adrenalin and cortisol – our nervous system is more at rest. We wander into the realms of “rest and digest” instead of wired and tired”.
  5. It can be helpful to set a time reminder on your laptop or phone- in the early days of my learning mindfulness I set a temple bell sound on my phone to ring twice hourly and scared the heck out of myself, and anyone nearby, when it rang so now I’m used to silently being aware that I need a short break. Choose your own reminders,: bathroom breaks, every time you hang up the phone, every 2 hours…
  6. You might not think that slowing down will make you more calm, productive, or efficient when you are so busy – but over time it will. Your resilience to stress will grow, you will get through the day with more energy. Mindful working is: pausing, listening, walking slowly with intent, taking your time. You will notice when you are under pressure at work your breathing quickens, your heart beat speeds up – mindfulness practises are the antidote to this
  7. Within mindfulness lies acceptance – accepting the present moment as it is- which means accepting yourself right here right now – that can’t be a bad thing, surely?

Some helpful resources to try include the writings of Eckhart Tolle, Kristen Neff and Christopher Germer or one of the readily available phone apps like the Headspace app, though I must say my favourite app is @calm.

If you’d like to see a naturopath, you can find me at My Remedy in Milford, and we can discuss this a bit more!

Till next time, Go Well

 

By Joanna Vinsen Loveys BNatMed HbT

Puraty Naturopath


Joanna Loveys
Joanna Loveys

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