mental health

Mindfulness and Work

Working is the perfect time for mindfulness. You’re already wrapped in a project, paper, or meeting. You may or may not be miserable doing so. But you can turn the experience around by being mindful. It’s turning a negative into a positive.

A brief overview of mindfulness is a mental state achieved through being fully engaged in the present. It can include calmly accepting one’s internal emotions, thoughts, and feelings. Kind of think of it as a more active form of meditation.

In today’s society, mindfulness is crucial. People wake up in the morning in a race to get ready, yet multitask on their phones until they are running late. They rush to work with their music blaring, getting stressed out by 8:00 am rush hour. At work they lose energy and motivation as the day drudges on. They don’t get as much done as they’d like, yet still come home exhausted and in need to spend all evening on the couch watching Netflix or browsing the internet. What happened? Do people even remember their work day?

Sadly, almost 50% of the time people are thinking of something else other than what they’re doing. Therefore, a significant amount of our time is spent on autopilot. What’s worse is that people are losing their ability to concentrate and focus due to this issue. Stress builds up.

Well, it’s all a mess. Unfortunately, it’s the norm for a significant amount of Americans.I feel the missing link is the faulty approach to work. We see work as a source of stress that must be endured. However, mindfulness can even make you happier at work. I’m a firm believer of this.

Mindfulness can ease the hardships of jobs, or make your work be joy. Taking a moment to concentrate how the pen feels in your hand, how the seat of the office chair feels, the murmuring of chatter in the hallway — it can be revitalizing. Being deeply involved in what you’re doing is simply relaxing. Forget on whether or not you want to be at work, as in that moment you have the option of a mini relaxation session.

 

When working, trying first focusing on your breathing? Are you breathing through your chest or your stomach? Take slower and deeper breaths. What are your thoughts? Are they negative or positive? Acknowledge each thought, then let it drift away. What are you doing? Are you writing or typing? Feel the keyboard underneath your fingers, or the pen in your hand. Relax your fingers and hand. Then relax the rest of your body. Finally, really throw yourself into what you are doing.

While writing this post, I am actually doing this. I already feel better — at ease.

Here’s a different example of mindfulness from my own life. I’m taking a summer college class that requires about 3-4 hours a day of work on an online lab. The lab work is dull and hard to get into because all I’m doing is labeling anatomy parts on cadaver images. Interesting for the first thirty minutes, but eventually you get bored as hell.

What changed my attitude is being mindful while working. I feel the breeze of the fan blowing on my back, the slickness of the shiny paper in my very expensive textbook, how my fingers curl around the pencil. When reading the text either on the screen or in my textbook, I read thoughtfully. Occasionally I’ll close my eyes and pay attention to my breathing, Once I identify the anatomy part and label it, I linger on how nice it is to be able to learn a significant amount about the human body. After the study session, I feel impressively happier. Grateful even — I had an opportunity to sit down and relax a while, even if it was doing work.

I could’ve had a rotten attitude. But I wasn’t going to waste precious time of my day cursing underneath my breath thinking of how I’d rather be anywhere but there at my office desk.

Mindfulness can be done anywhere. Work is stressful — thus try being mindful at work. You can either take breaks to focus on your breathing or hyperfocus on a task. A change in awareness can cause a profound inner shift. It leads to a calmer attitude, and eventually you might become a generally mellow person once you get skilled at mindfulness.

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