By Crystal Shepherd
It can sometimes feel as though if we want to participate in contemporary life, stress is just a part of the package deal. In order to be accomplished and productive in the working world, we must feel pressured. If your to-do list does not cause anxiety, you are not doing enough. Stress can be felt in many ways: emotional stress, physical stress, and the classic stress about how much stress we have. These are all toxic views on life, work, and productivity. Stress, anxiety, and negative pressures are not the only ticket to “real life.” In fact, we need to rework the entire idea of productivity, because stress is not the way to accomplish our goals.
A proven way to reduce stress at work is to practice mindfulness. The idea behind mindfulness is to increase moment-to-moment awareness. It reprograms our mind to think in healthier, less-worried ways. Mindfulness is not about living in slow motion, but rather about living a more conscious life. When we increase our focus and awareness, stress and anxiety naturally decrease. If you need even more reasons to begin, the following are some amazing additional health benefits for people who practice mindfulness: lower blood pressure, decreased depression, improved memory.
Now, how do we practice mindfulness daily, especially at fast-paced work environments? Practicing mindfulness throughout the day first requires us to ask ourselves what tries to demand our attention to distract us. Mindfulness boils down to the idea of giving the task at hand the attention it deserves and shutting other distractions off. So, rather than responding to emails as they fly into your mailbox, try setting aside time intervals dedicated to checking them. This prevents task exhaustion and ensures that both your daily assignments and emails are tended to at a higher quality.
Once we’ve accomplished being a “single tasker” by removing extra distractions, the next step is to train our brain to increase its focus and attention, which is where mindful breathing techniques come into play. The idea behind it isn’t to have an empty brain, but rather, focus on the quiet inhale and exhale of our bodies. When the mind starts to wander, recognize the distracting thought, then bring the attention back to breathing. There is no “right time” to do mindful breathing, and can be fit in whenever the schedule allows it. Find space for mindful breathing in the morning before getting ready for the day, on the commute to work, or in your office space prior to returning from lunch. We can find small pockets of time all around us once we start looking.
We shouldn’t have to feel overwhelmed to feel productive, and we shouldn’t feel as though life is a balancing act that could easily fall apart. We don’t need to be hyper-stressed in order to live an active, productive, goal-crushing life. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. So, let’s all join the Mindfulness Revolution and rework the way we approach productivity to one of increased mental awareness and focus.