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Mindfulness in the Workplace

Simple Approaches to Develop Resiliency – Part 1: Mindfulness

Resiliency does not come to people as naturally as it seems – all people have challenges with being Resilient – from the small nagging voice of doubt in our head to overcoming life or career altering events; all people are prone to biases that challenge us to thrive under stress and despite the best of circumstances. But, the good news is that Resiliency can be learned and fortified with training, strategies, tools and resources to help people build and maintain Resiliency during times of challenge.

Why is this important? Because Resilient people can flexibly respond to challenges.  They can not only bounce back from a challenge but can also find opportunities within those challenges to “bounce forward”.

According to research, there are a few things that can be done to increase resiliency that are surprisingly simple:

To Develop Resiliency, Start with Mindfulness

Mindfulness is described as focusing attention and awareness on the present moment.  Humans spend time reliving the past and ruminating about the future.  Our brains produce repetitive, often negative, thought patterns about ourselves and others that really aren’t helpful.  Originally our brains evolved with this type of thinking to help us plan tasks, review the past and improve future behavior.  However, as the brain continued to evolve, some of these functions now cause rumination and suffering.  One way to combat this tendency is to live in the moment.  When you’re mindful, you focus on the present experience, you can observe your thoughts and feelings without judging them as good or bad.  Meditation can often help with mindfulness – people who take time to meditate demonstrate a pattern of brain activity that is associated with feeling safe and comfortable in the world. Meditation doesn’t need to be achieved by sitting on a cushion or in formal classes. Even simple timeouts throughout a day to pause, breathe and intentionally let go of tension can be meditative. Meditation has shown to reduce stress, enhance empathy, slow the aging process and sharpen the mind.

Aside from formal meditation, other ways to develop more mindfulness at work may include:

  • Breathe mindfully – Being fully engaged in the moment and thinking clearly requires oxygen. Its the most basic and simple principle of mindfulness – just breathe!
  • Monitor your “continuous partial attention”: Most of the time, we pay only partial attention to things and people.  Recognize this, become aware of it, and counteract it by focusing fully on the person or task at hand.Be in the present moment.
  • Cancel unnecessary meetings – They are a distraction from your focus and productivity and can trigger unnecessary stress. While it can be hard to say “no” at work, remember you are there to be the most productive you can be in your role – any activities that are interfere with optimal performance should be “let go”
  • Exercise – Even 15 minute walks lead to greater energy. Invite a friend or your team to join you for a stroll.
  • Take breaks from technology – Turn off the email notification, put the phone away. Schedule specific times for checking email, texts and messages instead of responding to them as they occur. When there is important or stressful work to complete, reduce distractions to make the best use of time and energy.
  • Be social, schedule time for daily interactions – If you work alone or in particle isolation, schedule a time every day when you will visit someone. Be proactive about being social – social support and having strong connections with others is a big part of becoming Resilient.
  • Learn and study new things – Learn for its own sake. Understanding new things brings about changes in thinking and behavior, and its fun to be curious.
  • Substitute a new routine every now and then – Change something, even if it’s very minor, such as the time you grab coffee in the morning. This engages the mind.

While these approaches to becoming more Resilient may seem simple – or even obvious – people who take time to breathe, focus, take breaks and socialize with intention find more balance become a part of their day – when major issues arise at work or in life, simple mindfulness techniques can help prepare people to confront the challenge with a greater sense of calm.

This blog was provided by TRACOM’s friend and Resilient client, Nancy Evans.

Read Part 2 of “Simple Approaches to Develop Resiliency” here.

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