Specialist trainer and executive coach, Karen Barr offers practical advice and tips in answer to our latest Ask the Expert question.
“My line manager has suggested I try practising mindfulness as they think it would benefit me personally and improve my work performance. At the moment I’m so busy at work I can really do without taking time out to attend a course that I can’t see the relevance of. Am I missing something, how would learning mindful techniques benefit my work performance?”
Before we can make a decision as to whether mindfulness is right for us or not, we must fully understand what it is. Mindfulness is like a mind gym. While we understand that we need to keep our bodies healthy and fit, so we also need to look after our mind. Mindfulness is the antidote to support us in keeping mental ill health at bay and can be especially helpful in the current climate where we are having to cope with working from home or managing others remotely. Practising mindfulness will help us build resilience and skillful resources towards life stresses.
Recent research by Harvard University suggests that we are only aware of ourselves and our situation around 48% of the time – we have all had that experience of eating something without really noticing, or driving to a place without remembering getting there – this means that 52% of the time we revert to our habitual ways of thinking and doing things that are not always supportive of how we are now.
Mindfulness has been defined as “Being fully in the present moment, without judgement” (Kabat Zinn), which simply means being aware of all our senses and thinking at any time.
Adopting a mindfulness practice into your life has been proven to:
- Reduce stress and create higher levels of well-being
- Increase personal awareness which enhances emotional regulation
- Bring greater compassion for ourself and others
- Increase concentration and reduce distraction
- Promote calmness and peacefulness in difficult situations
- Reduce insomnia
- Improve cognitive flexibility and ability to focus
- Improve concentration and creativity
Mindfulness practice doesn’t only help at work, it supports our wellbeing wherever we are. Right now we can take a few deeper breaths and immediately feel better – try it now!
I understand how busy we all are, and I often hear people saying that they are too busy to attend a full 8 week course, (mindfulness is often taught over a period of time to help embed the habit of meditation practice), yet we can lose hours of the day being unproductive and unfocussed. Perhaps a shorter course will give you a flavour of how to practice mindfulness and if it might be helpful for you. Imagine if you could claw back some of that 52%!
However, before you dive into any mindfulness training it would be worthwhile having a conversation with your line manager to discuss why he/she thinks it might benefit you.
This Ask the Expert Q&A appeared in our Autumn newsletter, if you would like future editions of our quarterly workplace wellbeing newsletter to be sent directly to your inbox, you can sign up here.
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