Updated: Jan 16
A study done by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA), showed that 60% of employees in the Netherlands feel regularly or extremely stressed, compared to 50% in the entire EU.
In addition, 17% of employees in the Netherlands have experienced burnout symptoms in the last year.
A percentage which is increasing significantly each year, and cost the health care approximately €34 million in one year alone.
“Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally”. – Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder of the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) 8-week course
It’s worth taking the time to explore mindfulness techniques, that have been developed and tested through scientific studies in the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) 8-week course.
These have been proven to help reduce stress, improve overall well-being, as well as increase productivity.
Why Practice Mindfulness Meditation?
We spend most of our waking hours at work, and so if we’re not mindful and aware of this time we are missing out on a large portion of our lives!
In addition, the majority of us face a certain level of stress during our work.
This makes it imperative for our well-being and peace of mind that we have the necessary tools available to manage stressful situations at work and be more resilient.
We need to learn how to manage the stress we undergo at work in order to have more energy—both inside and outside of work—in order to live more fulfilling lives.
A side benefit of mindfulness practices is that they also improve our ability to focus and concentrate.
This can make us more efficient and successful at our jobs, and improve our work-life balance.
By learning how to better deal with stress at work, it will allow you to have more energy outside of work to focus on other things and people that are important to you.
Now we know what is at stake from stress at work, and what benefits mindfulness practices can bring professionally and personally—how can we get started?
Five Easy Ways to Practice Mindfulness When Working
1. Plan short mindful moments into your day
New habits are difficult to form, so make sure you set yourself up for success. Start with an achievable goal—perhaps planning three five-minute breaks during your work day.
One of the biggest challenges when starting something new is to remember to do it.
Try planning these three mindful sessions into your agenda at work, or at periodic times like just before your morning coffee break or lunch.
That way you’ll be less likely to forget. During this break stop what you’re doing and take a few deep breaths.
Observe how your body feels, and what your current thoughts, feelings and emotions are. And then proceed with the rest of your day.
2. Challenge a colleague or friend to join you practicing mindfulness
It’s easier to achieve success with your goals and intentions if you share them with others around you. It’s been proven that by sharing your commitments with others, you’ll be more likely to stick to them.
If you can, find someone else that shares your interest in being more mindful and resilient at work. That way you can motivate each other to practice mindfulness.
By surrounding yourself with people that have similar interests you’ll be able to share the benefits and challenges that bringing mindfulness into your day brings.
3. Pick a short, simple guided mindfulness practice to get started
Another challenge when beginning mindfulness is knowing what or how to practice.
Mindfulness techniques found in the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) 8-week program are relatively simple, such as observing your breath or becoming aware of sensations in your body.
However, as a new mindfulness practitioner it can be challenging to focus your attention on one of these aspects when at the same time you are getting distracted by other thoughts.
Guided mindfulness meditation practices are a great place to start, since you don’t have to guide the exercise yourself.
The three-step breathing space meditation is particularly useful since it is just 5 minutes long, making it easy to find time for even if you’re busy.
4. Build in some time for longer mindfulness practices before, after or during a work day
Once you have integrated shorter mindful moments into your day, see if you can sometimes find time for longer mindfulness meditation practices of around 20 – 30 minutes.
During these more formal mindfulness practices—that can be done sitting, lying or standing—you will get the opportunity to become aware of your feelings and thought patterns, internal dialogue and natural tendencies when reacting to positive and negative events.
By practicing regularly, over a longer period of time, you’ll also be able to tune into daily fluctuations and make better judgements on how to organize your day to best suit your present mindset and energy level.
Again, if you’re new to these mindfulness practices it can be helpful to start using guided recordings.
The bodyscan is the first long mindfulness meditation taught in the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) 8-week program, and a great practice to start with. It focuses on scanning your attention slowly through your body.
5. Use mindfulness techniques at moments of stress and uncertainty
Once you have some experience of bringing mindful moments into your work day, you’ll be able to more readily use these techniques during moments of stress and high uncertainty.
This is where the benefits of mindfulness for resilience and stress reduction really come into play.
It’s one thing to create the routine and discipline to practice informal and formal mindfulness techniques regularly, but quite another to be able to use these mindfulness techniques in moments of high stress and anxiety.
Once you’ve built a foundation of having regular moments of mindfulness throughout your day this will become much easier to tap into these resources when you really need them.
How can you learn more about mindfulness?
As you can see, these five ways to practice mindfulness at work are possible to do on your own and don’t require joining mindfulness drop-in classes or corporate mindfulness program.
However, we often find that it’s challenging for those new to mindfulness to find the motivation to integrate these practices alone.
Therefore if you are interested in having a mindfulness class or program set up for your company or organization, to encourage staff to practice mindfulness and become more resilient find out more about what we offer for mindfulness in the workplace and get in touch.
Good luck and happy practicing!
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