Have you recently come home at the end of the day and realised you were living on autopilot? You did not breathe properly (or focus on breathing at all) and were not aware of yourself. You are not alone.
As we return to our pre-lockdown lives, we get excited and might be tempted to jump from one thing to another without taking the time to pause and take in the present moment.
It happens to a lot of us. We get so deeply connected to our daily routines, so fixated on what’s next on our to-do list that we disconnect from ourselves. We forget to stop and smell the roses, so to speak.
However, there’s a way we can hit the pause button and take control of ourselves and our surroundings, and it’s called mindfulness.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a topic that receives mixed reactions. Some people dismiss it entirely, others are curious, and some mistake it for something it’s not (“Oh, I’m not a spiritual or religious person so this isn’t for me”).
Mindfulness practice is a very practical way to regain control of your thoughts and feel calmer and more aware of the present moment. It’s a practice that can benefit people from all walks of life and it can take on many forms.
Mindfulness means paying attention to the present moment or, in other words, “the focus on being intensely aware of what you’re sensing and feeling at every moment without interpretation or judgement“. That means living in the now, not worrying about the future or fixating on the past.
It’s the art of being present, right here, right now, focusing on your immediate surroundings and state of mind.
Benefits of mindfulness meditation
The practice of mindfulness has been around for thousands of years with roots in Buddhist meditation. It entered the Western mainstream in the 1970s when professor Jon Kabat-Zinn developed the “Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction” (MBSR) program at the University of Massachusetts Medical Centre.
It used a combination of mindfulness meditation, body awareness and yoga to help people become more mindful.
Since then, several recent research studies have linked mindfulness practices to a staggering collection of health benefits.
- Reduce stress and anxiety
- Improve our concentration and memory capacity
- Reduce pain
- Make us more compassionate
- Improve our physical and mental health
- Reduce depression risk
- Help us to sleep better
Sounds good but still impossible? Our minds are not used to slowing down, and it seems to be hard to just “switch off” and be aware. Right?
The good news is that mindfulness is not about stopping your thoughts. It’s about watching them.
How to be mindful in everyday life
When practising mindfulness, the aim is to watch your thoughts without being attached to them. It sounds strange, but the truth is we are not our thoughts.
There is another part of our mind that can turn in and observe itself. When you watch your thoughts, you give yourself a more objective standpoint and can more easily deal with negative or stressful feelings.
The not-so-good news is that mindfulness requires patience and practice! There are many ways one can practice mindfulness, and as you get started on your journey toward better self-awareness (or perhaps you are already well along the path), you will find which mindfulness techniques works best for you.
Here are some of our tips for getting started on your mindfulness journey:
- Bring awareness to your daily life. Be aware of the smells, sounds and senses around you, and enjoy them.
- Pay attention to your breath. Breathe in deeply and breathe out slowly, being aware of your body and your feelings.
- Practice! Start with meditation apps like Calm and HeadSpace, and try some guided body-scan meditations . They are really helpful and easy for beginners.
- Know that you can do mindfulness exercises anywhere, anytime! You can practice mindfulness for one or two minutes on your commute home, or if you work in an office, at your desk at work. Even the smallest commitment can help you decompress. Micro-commitments are also an easy way to build a new habit into your routine. The Calm app we mentioned has commuting and walking meditations. Give them a try!
Our tip is to take your time! Don’t rush yourself and enjoy each step of your mindfulness journey. Try what you are comfortable with and keep an open mind.
You never know what you can learn and discover.
Easy mindfulness and meditation for a calmer workday
Quietening a noisy mind can be difficult at the best of times. Yet the benefits of mindfulness are clear, with research showing reduced stress, rumination, fretting, depression and anxiety.
Think of mental health like a muscle; the more you practice, the stronger it gets. Mindfulness is like a gym session for your mind. You might struggle to nail the techniques to begin with, but over time you will improve, becoming better at building on your mindfulness muscles.
Here are a number of guided meditation videos for you to enjoy.
Short Meditations | Under 5 Minutes
Mindfulness Minute #1 – Winding Down
Had a busy day? Just feeling a bit tense? Take a minute to be mindful and wind down from your day. All you have to do is press play and watch the screen or close your eyes as you listen to the instructions.
Mindfulness Minute #2 – When you’re overwhelmed at work
We can all feel overwhelmed from time to time, but when it feels like there’s too much going on at work, it can be hard to know what to do.
Just take one minute to be mindful by listening to the instructions in this video.
gPause – Google Meeting Starter
Ran at the 2014 Happy Workplaces, a surprising hit was the Google-led meditation meeting starters prompting many organisations to consider starting internal meetings with this guided meditation.
Medium Meditations | Under 10 Minutes
Good Morning Medication | 8 Minutes
Looking after yourself is more important than ever. That’s why we’ve created a guided meditation series, Present, to help bring a little calm to your day. This morning meditation helps you start your day with energy and intention.
Email Pause Meditation | 8 Minutes
This stretch and relaxation meditation encourages you to take a gentle break from emails to find a moment to get into the body and breath.
Calm Your Nerves (before a presentation, audition, test, or interview) | 10 Minutes
Meditate and relieve some anxiety before you walk into an audition, interview, test, or maybe just an awkward conversation. Meditation can help you walk into the room fearless, with confidence and clarity!
Body Scan Meditation | 6.5 Minutes
This body scan meditation focuses on gently guiding awareness through the body to encourage a deep sense of relaxation and peacefulness.
Long Meditations | 20 Minutes +
Beginner Meditation | 19 Minutes
This simple meditation is perfect for those new to the practice of meditation.
The wrap up
The good news is you don’t have to be a yogi expert to get the benefits of practising mindfulness and meditation in your daily routine. It doesn’t cost anything and can be done from almost anywhere in the world.
The guided meditation videos are a great way to get started and learn what style works best for you.
Bupa is a private health insurance partner to Employment Hero and provides discounts and other corporate benefits to members.
If you would like to learn more about the Bupa benefits available to Employment Hero users, click here.
Download the Wellness at Work Index