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Being Mindful at Work

Think you’ve got to bend your legs like a pretzel and sit for hours to achieve mindfulness? Think again. This once obscure Buddhist concept is growing in popularity—no yoga mat required.

The timing couldn’t be better, either. Recent research indicates we’re more stressed-out than ever. In fact, stress rates have skyrocketed in the past six to seven years, a timeline that roughly corresponds to our ability to “hyper-connect” to work via smartphones, says executive coach and American Management Association expert Scott Eblin, author of Overworked and Overwhelmed: The Mindfulness Alternative.

The Gift of Presence

Mindfulness can get us back to center. At its heart, mindfulness is observing what is happening in the present without calling it good or bad. Observing without judging keeps us out of a past we can’t change or a future we can’t control.

When we practice mindfulness at work, we think more clearly. We respond rather than react. We take events less personally. We make better decisions. In short, our brains slow down. We reduce our stress levels while simultaneously increasing our effectiveness.

Mindful Without the Mat

The latest research shows you can gain mindfulness benefits anytime. Here are a few activities to get you started:

  • Take a walk. Walking’s repetitive motion immediately relaxes you, says Eblin.

  • Stretch. Step away from work for several minutes. Roll your shoulders, reach for the sky, and get your blood flowing. Remembering your body brings you back to the present.

  • Lunch well. Enjoy the tastes, textures, and smells of your food. Avoid junk food, which can hurt your brain and disrupt your focus.

  • Breathe. Put your hand on your belly and take three deep breaths, Eblin suggests. Increasing oxygen and the moment-by-moment awareness of this most basic life-sustaining act will help bring you back to now.

 

 

Date Last Reviewed: 1/19/2015
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