Mindfully written by Sherry Blair
I can hear you now. Who has time for that? I am too busy, too overworked, too behind already, too pressured….blah, blah, blah. If you read this far, I would bet that you need to check this out—your inner guide is calling.
Compassion fatigue runs rampant in many fields, general burnout plagues anyone in any workplace, and vicarious traumatization causes significant distress in many people. An overall focus on workplace well-being, in addition to your personal commitment to well-being, is recommended. Here are some tips and reasons why mindfulness at work may change your life.
Don’t Jump Right Out of Bed! Experts say that from the moment our alarm or inner clock wakes us up for work, our cortisol levels begin to rise. We automatically start thinking about what we need to do to get going for the day. Instead of jumping out of bed, take 2 minutes (that’s it—2 minutes), breathe, and notice your body’s calm energy. (Now don’t go blaming me if you fall back to sleep;). As the 2 minutes comes to an end, notice yourself and nurture your heart by recognizing your commitment to self-care.
Don’t Jump Right in When You Get to Work. Follow the practice of 2 minutes that you read about above, but don’t lay down on the floor and pretend you are snuggled in your bed or your co-workers may call 911;). Take 2 minutes (yes only 2 minutes and you don’t have to be in lotus pose!) and be aware of your surroundings and your body as you breathe. This practice is no different than an attempt to gather your thoughts to start your day. 2 minutes people! That’s it! Finish this off with a mindful recognition about yourself such as “I notice I am practicing something new and that means I am open-minded to the idea of being mindful at work.”
Don’t Believe the Hype about Multitasking. “Humans are not effective or efficient parallel processors (computers are). Neuroscientist, educational researcher, and author JoAnn Deak, Ph.D., notes that multitasking typically ‘doubles the amount of time it takes to do a task, and it usually at least doubles the number of mistakes.’” (Fernandez, 2016). Start your day by being a mindful MONO-TASKER. Organize your tasks in a one-at-a-time strategic and prioritized list. You will find you get more done with a quality over quantity outcome. As you complete each task, take a mindful moment and recognize the excellence and determination that you demonstrated.
STOP Being an On-Demand Channel! You will be hard-pressed to mono-task and succeed if you are constantly checking your personal cell phone, instant messages and any other form of the electronic notifier. While you are focused on being present in the moment to complete a task at work, turn notifiers off completely. Commit to checking emails and other message boards periodically as opposed to thinking you MUST answer immediately. Take a mindful moment to notice that you stopped giving into being an on demand channel for anyone that is reaching out and remind yourself that this shows your commitment to reducing the stress in your environment. (Note: For those of you in an on-call position, limit all the other notifiers and if necessary, revisit what urgent or emergent is to help find balance with the use of on-call services.)
Work Smarter Not Harder
Neuroscience reveals that we can re-train our brains with mindfulness—and maybe as often as we wish. How cool is that? We can create new thinking habits to increase resiliency and productivity at home, work and play. Wisdom Labs found that leaders and teams increased performance, collaborated and handled stress better. Be a mindfulness warrior and bring your team and co-workers in. You have much to lose—but greatness to gain. Recognize yourself for being a conscientious collaborator showing a commitment to excellence in performance and workplace well-being.
These are just a few tips about mindfulness that you can do at home, work and play and enough to get you started. Here is a great article if you want to learn more from the mindfulness guru, John Zabat-Zinn: Mindfulness.
Note: Everything in green are ways to apply the Nurtured Heart Approach® to yourself at home, work and play.
- Achor, S., and Gielan, M. (2015). The busier you are, the more you need mindfulness. Harvard Business Review.
- Congleton, C., Hozel, B.K., and Lazar, S. (2015). Mindfulness can change your brain. Harvard Business Review.
- Fernandez, R. (2016). Help your team manage stress, anxiety, and burnout. Harvard Business Review.
- Goodman MJ1, Schorling JB (2012). A mindfulness course decreases burnout and improves well-being among healthcare providers. Int J Psychiatry Med. ;43(2):119-28.