One of the great by-products of the movement to reduce workplace sitting is that it has introduced the idea that healthful practices are not only for after-work.
Flex Your Mindfulness Muscles:A Practice to help you cope, focus and stay calm
One of the great by-products of the movement to reduce workplace sitting is that it has introduced the idea that healthful practices are not only for after-work. You can be productive — maybe even more so — and make healthful choices throughout the workday.
A great example of this is mindfulness. It really is a terrific strategy for recharging and getting you out of worker-bee autopilot mode — and it doesn’t have to take a lot of time. So what is mindfulness exactly? At its simplest, it is being present and alert in the moment. The purpose of mindfulness is to make you aware of your thoughts so that you are better able to keep them from getting chaotic and disruptive. Mindfulness training can help reduce stress and anxiety in everyday work scenarios, and allow you to better focus, process and retain information, and perform in the moment.
When you’re feeling stressed is the ideal time to hit the pause button and practice mindfulness. For example, before you say something to a colleague or press “send’” on an email you may regret, take a few deep breaths and respond or reflect thoughtfully rather than impulsively.
Think of mindfulness as a brain break that you can do at your desk. Mindfulness is your mental training gym; it’s training the brain and re-charging the mind with breathing and body relaxation exercises. One example of a mindfulness break is a body scan. While standing, sitting or lying down, “check in” on yourself from head to toe (or vice versa). Mentally travel from one body part to the next, noticing how it feels, without judgment, and focusing all your attention on it. You’ll find you come out of it feeling recharged and energized. And science backs it up: research shows that those who practice mindfulness have increased gray matter density in the hippocampus (which is responsible for memory; learning, encoding and retrieval of information) and decreased gray matter density in the amygdala, where decision making and emotional reactions such as the fight/flight response, fear and anxiety originate.
There are lots of ways to incorporate mindfulness into your workday. Here are some favorites:
- Yoga: Practice a range of standing and seated poses that underscore breathing, balance, harmony, patience and focus.
- Mindful walking: Slow down and walk without anywhere to go, noticing and appreciating the sensation of the body moving, and enjoying the calming effects of the practice.
- Breathing Exercises: Focus on the sensation of breathing, paying attention to your belly expanding and contracting while breathing in and out through your nose.
There are really no rules about mindfulness: it may take some time for you to find what works best for you—give yourself license to pick and choose and enjoy the process. When you notice your mind wandering, simply refocus on your breathing. The key is to slow down and give yourself some “white space” – time to think, reflect, process information and experiences, be silent and just be — as you define it.
Mindfulness is a life tool that, with practice, is readily accessible to you, anytime, any place. Even one-minute micro-breaks can help you re-energize, re-focus and de-stress.
Curious about ways to fit mindfulness micro-breaks into your workday? Have a look at our video library.
Standing up for good health,
Move of the Month
- Reserve “white space” for yourself during your busy workday – no different than reserving a short break or time to eat lunch.
- Be a serial mono-tasker. Multi-taskers make twice as many mistakes when parallel processing compared to performing one task.
- Take a digital detox break to disconnect from technology to reconnect with yourself, your surroundings, and your colleagues.
- Try an app to guide you through meditation and yoga practices.
- Flex Your Mindfulness Muscles: A Practice to help you cope, focus and stay calm April 23, 2017
- Walk the Talk on a Treadmill Desk March 15, 2017
- I Love Interval Training February 11, 2017
- Rebalancing Act: Fallen off the Wellness Wagon? Here’s How to Get Back on Board January 14, 2017
- Giving Depression the Runaround December 12, 2016