In the fast-moving digital culture we work in now, staying connected minute-to-minute has become the norm – so much so, that burnout is on the rise, and we rarely get to time away from looking at screens to give our brains a break from the information overload around us.
So it’s no surprise that mindfulness has become even more important to improve our overall wellbeing. Scientific research suggests that online mindfulness programmes can be particularly effective as a coping tool through the pandemic that can reduce stress, depression and anxiety, as well as boost mental health.
To understand the importance of mindfulness for working women, I spoke to Jolawn Victor, Chief International Officer at Headspace Health and she shared her advice on how to incorporate mindfulness at work.
So, what exactly is mindfulness?
“Mindfulness is all about learning how to be fully present and engaged with yourself, in a moment or in your surroundings, while focusing on your mind and body,” said Jolawn.
“Mindfulness encourages us to acknowledge inner thoughts and feelings that we may have previously suppressed, giving us the space to understand them and learn to move on.”
It might seem like incorporating mindfulness into an already hectic workday is impossible – but even small practices for just moments here and there, can lead to steady habits over time. What’s more, mindfulness can even help you perform better at work.
With influential companies like Google, Nike and Apple offering mindfulness and mental wellbeing support to their staff, mindfulness is much more than a buzzword. Mindfulness is a practice shown to improve mental wellness and alleviate stress, and positively impact workplace outcomes, such as resilience, social relationships, memory, task performance and commitment to work tasks, according to research.
Jolawn said: “Mindfulness is so important as it can help us to understand ourselves, our colleagues and scenarios at work in a clear and focussed manner, free from judgement, ultimately reducing stress and increasing overall happiness in the workplace.
“Mindfulness can also help us to be more present at work -– there’s so much benefit in taking a moment to tune out of the high-stress energy so often found in the office and allowing yourself to be present and dedicated to each task as it comes. This can also give us the space to tap into our own potential in the workplace, which is hugely important for working women who often juggle so many additional responsibilities both in and out of the workplace. Having a greater understanding of the power of your mind and body through practising mindfulness in the workplace can be life-changing,” she said.
“Women are stereotypically labelled as multitaskers and can often find themselves with overwhelming workloads"
No matter whether you work full time or part time, as a freelancer, permanent employee or business owner, each of us can incorporate mindfulness at work and at home.
“Women are stereotypically labelled as multitaskers and can often find themselves with overwhelming workloads, which can seem impossible to get through. Mindfulness teaches you how to channel your focus into one thing at a time, dedicating attentiveness and consideration for each thing you do, while reducing the stress of an ever-increasing to-do list,” explained Jolawn.
Whether you’re a mindfulness novice or a meditation master, all it takes is a few minutes throughout your day to dedicate back to yourself. Here are Jolawn’s top tips to practice mindfulness at work:
1. Focus on your breath. Breathwork can really help you to identify how you’re feeling and is definitely the easiest and most inconspicuous way to practice mindfulness in the office. We’ve just launched a guided breathwork collection led by mindfulness meditation teacher Dora Kamau, which teaches you how to harness your inhalation and exhalation in order to reclaim your calm in a variety of situations.
2. Actively listen. Be fully present and mindful of what your colleagues are saying, as this can help to silence your own erratic thoughts and strengthen relationships with those around you.
3. Take regular breaks. Taking breaks from work may feel impossible or even like a luxury, but they’re essential for practising mindfulness at work. Regular breaks throughout the day can be used for short meditations and breathwork exercises, which can not only lead to reduced stress levels, but a calmer and clearer mind for you to produce your best work each day.
4. Practice gratitude. Everyone has bad days at work — the trick is to use those as an opportunity for mindfulness. The next time you’re feeling a little down at work, try a gratitude meditation and write down one or two things you like about your job. This can serve as a brilliant reminder, even on the most difficult days.
5. Use your commute to mindfully unwind. It’s important to unplug at the end of the workday and set boundaries, so you can be truly present at home. The commute can be an ideal time to make this transition. Try being fully present in surroundings, practising breathwork and gratitude. This will allow you to acknowledge any thoughts of work stress and help you let them go.