With many of us experiencing more stress and anxiety because of our work than ever before, it’s crucial that we take action to protect our mental and physical health.
While far from a magic pill, meditation, and mindfulness are two ways that we can reduce our stress levels at the workplace and obtain greater satisfaction from the work we do.
Background: Work and How it Can Create Stress in Our Lives
Whether it’s work functions, deadlines, or other responsibilities, it’s really no secret that work is a significant source of stress for many people around the world.
Some of us work in less-than-ideal environments, with lots of interpersonal drama and politics. This can leave us wondering how to survive our next office party, or make it through the workday without ending up in some form of conflict with a colleague or superior.
Many of us also know that these environments aren’t healthy for us to be in, but, given that we must work to live, we don’t have much say in the matter. The same is true of jobs that are inherently high-stress, like working in the legal or medical fields. Even when we have healthy, supportive workplaces, we can be exposed to extreme stress thanks to the very nature of these occupations.
It probably goes without saying that being stressed, especially for prolonged periods, is hardly good for your health. Stress can predispose us to various physical and mental health issues, as well as affect us in other, subtler ways.
For instance, experiencing chronic levels of high stress can raise the level of cortisol in our bodies. Over time, this can predispose us to develop a number of serious physical and mental health issues, including cardiovascular disease, anxiety, depression, digestive problems, and challenges with our weight.
How Mindfulness and Meditation Can Help
Fortunately, even if we have very stressful lives, there are ways we can reduce our mind and body’s response to these circumstances. This is very important for both our physical and mental health and can help us stay grounded even in the most toxic of workplaces.
Mindfulness and meditation are two practices with foundations in Buddhism that anyone can pick up and learn with some patience. There are many forms of meditation, but the most typical involves focusing on the in and out-breath. Mindfulness involves bringing our awareness to the present moment, which is often assisted by concentrating on our breathing, body, surroundings, and so on.
While it isn’t exactly necessary, incorporating some element of philosophy into the practice of mindfulness or meditation helps many people feel an even greater sense of fulfillment and peace in their workday. You could study the religion of Buddhism, for instance, or memorize some quotes or proverbs whose meanings you find especially profound.
Incorporating Mindful Moments into Your Workday
One of the great things about mindfulness is how versatile and flexible the practice is. At any point during your workday, you can use mindfulness to ground yourself and come back to the present moment, which is helpful not only in reducing any stress you might be feeling regarding your work but also in assisting you in being more fully aware of what you’re doing.
You can basically practice mindfulness at any point during the workday; you don’t even necessarily need to set time aside to do so or must have more than a few seconds available. In essence, you can simply choose to focus on your breathing momentarily – even if only for a few breaths, this will allow you to bring yourself back into your body and be present in the moment, which is the essence of mindfulness.
With this, you might find it easier or more helpful to incorporate regular mindful moments into fixed points of your workday.
For instance, you could choose to set aside 10 minutes after your lunch break for some meditation or try to always be mindful when you wash your mug or dishes during the day.
While having a consistent routine as part of your approach to mindfulness isn’t a necessity for many people, making the practice into a habit can assist many people in being more consistent with it. The benefits speak for themselves; mindfulness can reduce our overall levels of stress, help us concentrate on our work, and be happier and more present in every waking moment.
Regular Meditation Practice Can Help You Stay Grounded in Challenging Moments
One of the great things about practicing meditation is how much it can change the way we think and feel throughout the course of the day; its benefits go far beyond simple stress reduction and management.
Meditation can help us create a healthier, more disciplined relationship with our thoughts and feelings, allowing us to observe them before we react or respond to them out of impulse.
This is especially helpful when we have a stressful job or work in a less healthy environment. Meditation can help us be more mindful, which, in turn, assists us in being more grounded and less reactive in intense, challenging moments.
Naturally, the more you practice meditation, the more benefit you’ll see from it. Don’t be disheartened if you don’t notice any major changes overnight; time and consistency are key if you really want to see dramatic changes in your day-to-day life.