Today I'm enjoying a day off for President's Day. I plan to stay in the moment with my kids, enjoy the beautiful South Florida weather and make the most of the day because it's so easy to let the stress of work take over our lives.
My guest blogger today provides some great insight into staying in the moment through a practice called mindfulness, giving us tips on how to use it in the workplace to stay zen instead of stressed. Charles A. Francis is the author of Mindfulness Meditation Made Simple: Your Guide to Finding True Inner Peace (Paradigm Press), and co-founder and director of the Mindfulness Meditation Institute. He also leads workshops and mindfulness meditation retreats through his company, MindfulnessMeditationInstitute.org.
These are simple techniques he shares but they can make a big difference in how we feel about work life balance.
4 Ways Mindfulness Can Beat Workplace Stress — It’s as Easy as Taking a Walk
Workplace stress is an epidemic. The World Health Organization calls it a leading health problem in the United States. Stress takes a toll on productivity, memory, and concentration, and can trigger health, mental and emotional problems, turning a day at the office into an anxiety-ridden routine. But employees can break that pattern by practicing Mindfulness, even for a mere ten minutes, just a few times a week. It’s as simple as changing the way one breathes, walks, listens, and talks.
Mindfulness is a 2,500-year-old practice that trains the mind to become calm and focused. Based on straightforward techniques, it doesn’t take years to master. Employees can practice it during the most basic activities at work. Not only will it quiet the mind and improve performance and concentration, it has a great effect on office dynamics as well.
Here are four simple tips for beating workplace stress:
Take a breath.
Mindful Breathing slows down those racing thoughts and moments of agitation. It can be done anywhere, at anytime. First, stop what you’re doing. Then, take three to five breaths. As you take each breath, pay close attention, shutting out thoughts of anything else. Focus on the feeling of the air you’re breathing in and breathing out. Count each breath. It will put you back in the moment, but in much calmer state.
Go for a walk.
We walk way more than we think we do, even at work. Practice Mindful Walking, and every walk you take is a chance to get calm and centered. Heading to the water cooler? As you walk, focus on each step, shutting out the rest of the world. Focus on the way your foot falls, and on the time it takes. Do this for three to ten steps, counting as you walk and being deeply aware of each step. And slow down: by slowing down your body, you force your mind to follow.
Stephen Covey once said, "Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply." Deep Listening radically improves communication as we learn to focus on the conversation, instead of being distracted by second-guessing or getting a word in edgewise. First, start by looking into other people’s eyes as they’re talking. Pay close attention to what they’re saying. Fight the temptation to let your mind wander. By showing sincere interest in what the other person is saying, you’re also doing wonders for the relationship.
Choose words carefully.
The consequences of saying something thoughtless or regretful can be profound in the work environment. Mindful Speech is a way to choose the words that can create harmony instead. When responding to what someone’s just said, take a moment to reconsider the words you’ve chosen. Ask yourself: Are my words too reactive? Are they going to worsen an already tense situation? Try to choose words that are respectful, and kind. Just like Deep Listening, Mindful Speech can help heal the stressful workplace, replacing tension with transformation.