Professionals in offices across the country are under more stress at work than they’ve ever experienced before. Twenty years ago professionals who were office workers had real offices. We had desks and doors that closed. We had a shared admin to handle the administrivia that drives us all crazy. These days...not so much anymore.
Now we work in cubicle farms, with row upon row of connected metal desks with fake walls and no doors. The processes and policies established to help us successfully perform our jobs often add more stress and irritation to our lives. They become hoops to jump through instead of supportive structures to help get things accomplished.
And the people. Let’s not forget about our coworkers who sometimes bring joy to our workday and on other occasions, they just seem to bring the pain. Sometimes we’re even a victim of micro-aggressions, those little things that people do, sometimes without even realizing it, that can offend and create divisions between colleagues on the job.
All of these people, process and policy concerns can create a less than optimal work environment. Sixty percent of American workers reported they liked their job in 1987, according to a survey by the Conference Board, a non-profit research firm. But by 2014 those numbers had flipped and over 52 percent of workers indicted unhappiness at the job.
Some leading-edge organizations are implementing wellness programs for their employees to help increase job satisfaction. But for the majority of American workers, you’re on your own to develop strategies to overcome the effects of unhappiness at your job. One component of wellness programs that delivers for a lot of people is mindfulness.
Mindfulness is simply learning to focus all your attention on the present moment. A mindfulness practice helps you develop awareness. It combines deep breathing with a process to clear your mind. Believe it or not, this simple practice can help to improve your workday and offer the following benefits:
1. Improve Health
A study at Northern Arizona University found that a regular mindfulness practice strengthens your immune system. Office workers who practice mindfulness use fewer sick leave days and experience less severe colds or maladies when they do feel ill.
2. Sharpen Focus
The act of clearing your mind during a few moments of mindfulness has been characterized as “swooshing all the clutter out” of our brains. It makes sense then that being mindful prior to meetings or working on a big project leads you to sharpen your focus and become less distracted by the thoughts that constantly pop into your mind.
3. Stress Relief
The biggest benefit of developing a mindfulness practice is that it reduces stress in just about everyone who sticks with it. A lot of times we stress ourselves out because we let thoughts distract us and have too much power over our actions and behaviors. Mindfulness helps you to recognize that it’s just a thought and to “swoosh it out” and keep things moving forward.
Have you thought about adding a mindfulness practice to better deal with job issues?
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