But the struggle is real and the pressure on today’s workforce is greater and more demanding than it has ever been.
Typically one wakes up to the blare of the dreaded alarm, rushes through or skips breakfast, jumps into a car or train and heads to work. You’re either too hot or too cold, have to deal with late trains, traffic jams and generally struggle to find a place to park. You may even have answered a few emails or taken a conference call en route, and it’s probably not even 9am yet! You’re exhausted and feeling frantic — and the day has barely begun. And then the bombardment of requests begin before you’ve even hung up your coat or grabbed a cup of coffee. Sound all too familiar?
We live in a day and age where lifestyle, increasing life pressures and ongoing expectations add up and are taking their toll. Fortunately, there is a simple way to manage the daily cycle of mental stress more efficiently. And if you’re not already doing so your mind and body will thank you for it.
It’s called being mindful, an easy to adopt art and science requiring a few minutes a day of commitment and ongoing practice. It’s highly topical through all forms of press and media at the moment, due to a massively increased focus on mental health awareness. It also aligns with our organisation, Asemblr’s core value which endorses streamlining processes within the workplace to alleviate pressure and stress.
To start, what is "Mindfulness"? And better yet, what is Mindfulness not?
Mindfulness is a basic human ability to place one’s mind in the present moment, to be aware of what we’re doing, where we are and remove any thoughts which overwhelm us. It suggests that the mind is fully focussed on what’s currently happening through all 5 senses, which enables the brain to slow down, take cognisance and reboot. That might seem trivial, but it’s fairly difficult to practise with success initially. Our minds take flight, we lose touch with the present situation, and pretty soon we’re engrossed in a mountain of requests and to-dos, limited by unrealistic timescales.
Ultimately this drives distress and resulting excessive cortisol release (the “bad” stress hormone). Elevated levels of cortisol in the body interfere with learning and memory, lower immune function and bone density, increase weight gain, blood pressure, cholesterol, heart disease and also increase the risk for depression, mental illness, and a lower life expectancy. Statistically one in every four of us suffers from some kind of mental health challenges at any in the workplace at any given time, and this is the reason why. Increasing workload pressures and ongoing expectations add up and take their toll. It’s a vicious cycle, needing intervention or inevitably your mind will crash and burn. Practising mindfulness can help one stay grounded throughout the demands of the workday. It will help you to find balance, decrease stress, improve sleep patterns and even increase satisfaction and happiness in life.
Mindfulness is not about pushing your thoughts aside but learning how to accept them, and let them pass by. Picture your mind as the sea; You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn how to surf!
Here are a few ways to recognise opportunities to incorporate mindfulness into your workday, without it taking too much time or much effort at all.
Jason Allen Scott, founder of Calisthetics shares his insights:
1. Practise from the moment you wake up
Mindfulness practice first thing in the morning helps set the ‘tone’ of your nervous system for the rest of the day, increasing the likelihood of other mindful moments.
2. Practise mindfulness during routine activities
For instance, pay more attention as you’re brushing your teeth, taking a shower, eating breakfast or walking to work. Zero in on the sight, sound, smell, taste, and feel of these activities. You might find the routine activity is more interesting than you thought.
3. Keep sessions short
Our brains respond better to bursts of mindfulness. So being mindful several times a day is more helpful than a long session or even a weekend retreat. While 20 minutes seems to be the gold standard, starting at a few minutes a day is OK, too. Like any journey starts with a single step, start with 1 min of mindfulness. Start from the bottom, you can tune into your body, such as focussing “on how your feet feel on the ground as you walk around, first thing in the morning.
4. Practise mindfulness while you wait
In our fast-paced lives, waiting is a big source of frustration – whether you’re waiting for a train, bus or in line but while it might seem like a nuisance, waiting is actually an opportunity for mindfulness. When you’re waiting, bring your attention to your breath. Focus on the flow of the breath in and out of your body, from moment to moment and allow everything else to just be, even if what’s there is impatience or irritation.
5. Let your mind wander
Your mind and brain are natural wanderers – much like a crawling toddler or a puppy, Lucas said. And that’s a good thing. Having a busy brain is actually an asset. The beneficial brain changes seen in the neuroscience research on mindfulness are thought to be promoted in large part by the act of noticing that your mind has wandered, and then non-judgmentally – lovingly [and] gently— bringing it back.
6. Pick prompts to remind you to be mindful
Choose a cue that you encounter on a regular basis to shift your brain into the mindful mode. For instance, you might pick a time, and set alarms on your phone to remind you to take a moment and meditate.
7. Set aside time for mindfulness
If it’s lunchtime, get outside and go for a walk. When your to-do list is lengthy and you’ve got a ton of responsibilities, it’s very normal to feel overwhelmed and tense. But taking just 10 minutes out of your work day to do a few mindful and physical exercises your headspace and the quality of your work will improve. When you’re walking try to be aware of the things you see around you. Maybe try and mentally note 5 things on your walk that you find beautiful, inspiring or simply make you happy.
If all this is new to you, or you struggle to focus on the present without distraction or runaway thoughts we recommend downloading the app Headspace where sessions only last 3, 5 or 10 minutes of meditation.
Hopefully, these tips on how to introduce mindfulness into your day will set you up for a peaceful night’s sleep and a happy, healthy mind.
Michelle heads up the Marketing department at the Asemblr.com headquarters and thrives on creating engaging marketing initiatives and content to resonate with our community and industry at large. She loves blogging, networking, decent coffee and anything photography related.
Jason Allen Scott
Jason is VP of Strategy for Asemblr.com and is also the founder of Calisthetics, a practice that includes the incorporation of Mindfulness, Movement, Nutrition, Calisthenics and Athletics into one’s life. The Calisthetics Games is a sporting event that takes place in corporate spaces to workers of all ages with a baseline test and talks and round table conversations teaching the fundamentals you can start implementing immediately.
If alleviating workplace stress is something you’re looking to implement then consider using Asemblr.com to automate your corporate event planning. The platform is free to use and allows you to plan your event quickly and easily.
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