Under Pressure: Expert Tips To Find Your Focus & Calm at Work

 

On September 10th, New Hampshire had its first Mindfulness in Business Conference and the room was filled close to capacity.  As conference organizers, we intended to connect the number of pockets throughout the state where mindfulness has come into play; either as its already being practiced or in that the buzz about its positive effect on health, productivity and employee engagement had piqued a company’s interest.  Over the course of the morning, we heard about how mindfulness works, the research that validates its impact and how its been integrated it into existing organizational cultures.  We also talked about how the individual employee can realistically bring mindfulness into his/her work life for better focus, calm and engagement.  Below are some tips and strategies:

  1.  It’s better to meditate for two minutes than not at all.   A practical way to bring a mini-meditation into your day is to take a restroom break to disconnect from your computer and to connect into the breath.  Simply notice the sensation of the movement of air filling your lungs and the feeling of the air flowing back out.  If your mind wanders in that two minutes, bring it back.  Every time you catch yourself and shift your focus back to the breath, you are building the “mediation muscle” and your nervous system’s capacity to better calm itself.
  2. Think of an activity you perform regularly and take a few moments to pay attention the way it “feels to do it while you are doing it”. This, by the way, is the essence of mindfulness:  present moment awareness.  For instance, while you are driving to a meeting, notice the feeling of your hands on the steering wheel and become aware of the vibrations of the road.  Another thought is to try this on your coffee break.  There are many sensations you can place your awareness on including: the warmth of the cup, the aroma, the taste that splashes all over your tongue, the feeling of swallowing and following the sensation of the coffee as it moves down your throat.
  3. If multitasking has left you feeling scattered and ineffective, allow yourself to focus on what is just in front of you.  For example, take your next meeting and commit to listening to what is really being said.  If the urge to check your texts comes up, acknowledge it and let it go.  As you continue to keep letting it go and coming back to listening, you’ll find that your focus and comprehension improves as you take in all that is being communicated, both verbally and through body language.  You might also notice that this focus is maintained when moving onto the next task.
  4. Allow the mindful practices to help you down shift.  Slowing down might sound like something you don’t have time for, however doing so allows your brain to process more effectively.  Mistakes, accidents and miscommunications can be avoided while stress levels can be decreased.