Reducing stress with mindfulness has already been a way to cope with pressure. Depression patients, adolescents who need mental support or patients with prolonged problems due to the nature of their illnesses use the mindfulness technique. Stress can be a part of work life for most of us however, it’s possible to cope with stress through mindfulness exercises.
Mindfulness is the utter awareness of being in the moment that we are. Mindfulness meaning is basically about paying close attention to what is happening where you are, watching the flow or the people with close attention and not making any judgements whatsoever. You can do the related exercises by yourself and conduct mindfulness meditation simply by engaging in the right practices with the right attitude.
While reading this article, pause for a minute and turn your eyes to another direction. Pick an object around you and try to focus on that item. It’s completely up to you what this object can be. Let’s imagine you decided to focus your entire attention to a potted plant in the room.
Examine this plant as you haven’t seen it before. The colour, shape and the frame of the leaves, what are they like? Are the leaves wide or narrow? Is it blooming or is it green leaves all over? Try and see more details. Then approach and smell it. Does it have fragrance? If so, is it weak or strong?
There can be many other questions you ask to yourself about the plant. None of the questions make you pass a judgement or critique the plant. You are only in the moment and you’re observing a situation -a plant in this case- with no bias from moment to moment. While doing this, you’re still thinking but you’re heavily involved in the present moment. This is basically the utter definition of awareness of our thoughts.
Mindfulness can be a tool to reduce and eliminate stress at work
Mindfulness is paying attention in three particular ways: on purpose, in the moment and without judgement. There are several items to practise mindfulness such as breathing, eating, bodily sensations (scanning the parts of your body), thoughts, emotions, communication (listening and speaking) and walking and other activities (pilates, yoga, or tai chi).
Mindful practices can reduce symptoms related to anxiety, stress, chronic pain, depression and insomnia. Also, mindfulness exercises can improve memory and attention and decrease inflammatory biomarkers such as cytokines. There’s clinical evidence supporting this. Imaging studies have shown that mindfulness practices can actually change the brain to increase the size and activity of areas associated with executive function. The areas where executive functions take place change with mindful practices meaning clarity, cognitive function and effectiveness are increased.
In order to cope with stress at work, you have to know what causes it, where the source is. Working over-time, conflict with colleagues and/or other problems, deadlines and work load or being underpaid are the familiar reasons that you can think of when it comes to work-related stress.
How do we cope with all this? You might be wondering how an exercise like the one we mentioned above could be any help for you at work. But think of it this way, an exercise like that is the first step of approaching thoughts, ideas, situations and habits with a non-judgemental attitude. Getting rid of judgemental thinking allows you to stop judging your own self and start building self caring.
Stress actually roots from not being in the moment. It’s either about the past or the future. Stress related to the past makes it difficult for you to resolve a problem at that moment because of a past experience you had. Similarly, stress about the future makes you miss the moment because you worry about something that might happen but hasn’t happened yet. Some mindfulness exercises use breathing techniques to cope with this kind of anxiety. It’s primarily about focusing on your breathing.
Mindfulness allows you to get rid of judgemental thinking and teach you to stay in the moment. Once you master these things, you’ll see your stress levels decrease at work. While it’s perfectly possible for yourself to achieve it, you might find it easier to get involved in cognitive therapy and attain mindfulness through therapy sessions.
Many medical schools have designated departments teaching and studying mindfulness practices. University of Massachusetts Medical School is one of them where clinicians study mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) and mindfulness based cognitive therapy (MBCT). Talking about mindfulness based stress reduction it would be unfair not to mention the scientist who is unknown for the practice.
Jon-Kabat Zinn is a scientist, writer, and meditation teacher internationally known for his work in bringing mindfulness practices into the mainstream of medicine, healthcare and society. Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is now an aspect of mental health and thanks to Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn further studies are being done on mindfulness based cognitive therapy.
Mindfulness and Awareness
Mindfulness and awareness seem to be quite similar to each other conceptually but there is a difference between the two. Just as mindfulness, awareness requires you to be aware of the situation surrounding you. Mindfulness is about observing that situation without passing a judgement. Hence the positive state of mind following the objective observation.
Mindfulness is not a concept created according to the “current wave”. If you look at history and cultures built throughout history, you’ll find that every culture had traditions which included some form of mindful practice. Christians and Muslims pray, Buddhists meditate. People in Asia practise yoga. Native Americans perform sweat lodges and there are more examples…
Why do so many different communities evolve some sort of practice dedicated to helping people clear their minds? Why do they create some kind of activity to access deeper levels of awareness and consciousness? Because in every culture, the wisest people understand one profound truth: the quality of our thoughts create the quality of our reality, thus our life.
Although mindfulness and awareness include religious understandings, not all mindfulness practices are tied to religion. They do not have to take the form of prayer or meditation either. They are actually simple activities with the intention of cultivating mindfulness.
Mindfulness, truth vs false
Mindfulness does not work by ignoring the negative and not thinking anything at all. This is incorrect about mindfulness. It’s about focusing on the moment you are in and seeing everything as they are. In other words, it is not wishful thinking.
Mindfulness is not a religion, neither relates to any religion nor to any culture. It’s a global understanding of looking at life in a certain way.
Mindfulness exercises work in a way that make the person feel good. However, the objective is not to relax, it is to stay in the moment.
Best way to get an idea about mindfulness is to try these five simple meditations and simply be in that moment. First, be aware of your breathing. Watch the flow of your breathing and pay attention to it. Second, scan your body.
Take time to feel parts of your body while practising breath awareness. Do mindful listening. Focus on what is being spoken in a way that you pay attention to every aspect of it. Be mindful of your emotions. And finally eat mindfully. Breath awareness, body scanning, mindful listening, mindfulness of emotions and mindful eating.
Speaker Agency works with experts in the field of mindfulness and mental health if you are wondering how work-related stress is affecting you and wish to know more about mindfulness practices to reduce or eliminate stress and anxiety.