Sometimes, while working at an intense pace, we don’t notice the passing of hours or even days. We may find ourselves so occupied with work that our thoughts are consumed by it, even when we are not actively working. Many of us view work as a process that must be endured in anticipation of better days yet to come. However, when we internalize this point of view, we can allow life to roll on by without living it to the fullest.
We can reframe our work lives from a tool we only tolerate in order to get by or to save for the future to a resource that brings us joy, energy, and even nourishes us.
Sometimes we may feel so overwhelmed by our jobs that we can’t imagine doing this again and again each day. We may spend time scrolling through new job postings on career websites in the hopes of finding something better, or even just something different. Practicing meditation is a strategy to increase awareness that can help to create that relaxation and refreshment we crave without having to change our jobs.
So, what are some of the direct benefits of meditation on our career lives?
Many of us crave positivity and joy in our lives, wanting to avoid intense or stressful periods. Who doesn’t want a carefree and peaceful life, right? Though this is a common desire and totally understandable, often the periods in which we learn the most valuable lessons are those where we experience hardship. It can sometimes be difficult to stay in those challenging moments and having the patience to do so when all we may want is to be free of them is almost half the battle. One of the ways we can begin to manage our stress is by staying in the present moment and observing our emotions.
A study conducted at Uludağ University showed that people who regularly practice mindfulness exercises such as yoga and meditation reduce their stress levels, often have higher paying jobs, and greater life satisfaction compared to those who do not. Another study conducted with academics showed that as mindfulness practices increased, so too did happiness as well as the ability to implement strategies to cope with stress.
In light of these findings, taking a break on a busy or stressful work day, even just for a couple of minutes to give mindfulness a try can have a great impact. Try starting with some relaxing breathing techniques!
We’ve all had bad days at work. Sometimes, when we’re experiencing challenging moments at work, it can have an even more intense impact on us, especially if we’re already stressed in our lives outside of work. It can be helpful to recognize that this is temporary, that you will not feel like this forever, allowing yourself space to build up your mental resilience. A study showing workplace mindfulness intervention improves psychological well being and productivity
. In other words, the suggestion is that the more one practices mindfulness, the stronger one’s psychological resilience will be.
At first, it can be hard to believe that stress is temporary, accepting the intense and challenging situation as it is. However, you can develop this acceptance and patience through regularly observing your body and thoughts without judgment.
One of the most common feelings we may face in our work lives is that of inadequacy. Since childhood, we may have had goals to achieve, obstacles to overcome, and stairs to climb. We may have felt the need to cross a threshold, progress, or be better than others in order to believe we are successful or that we are good enough. Especially nowadays, demonstrating efficiency and success have become even more important criteria. Because of this, we may have a hard time accepting ourselves as we are as we’re too caught up in the desire to be efficient and successful.
If this situation sounds familiar to you, don’t worry you’re not alone. Remember, you are worthy no matter what you deserve to feel good. You don’t need an excuse or an achievement to be compassionate to yourself. Sometimes meditation can be a safe space to remind yourself of your worth when feelings of inadequacy creep up on you. Over time and with practice, you can reach a point where you embrace and accept all of yourself. You can look at yourself from a more objective and compassionate perspective when you’re feeling unsuccessful or inadequate.
We often realize too late that we need to rest. We may delay addressing that need, letting our energy drain without realizing it. Sometimes we’ll ignore even our most basic physiological needs like drinking water, moving our bodies, going to the bathroom, and more. You may realize that you become aggressive or nervous during such moments, reacting differently than you would otherwise. Mindfulness practices can help you identify and address your needs by checking in with yourself from time to time. Taking a break, even if for a brief moment, can help to fulfill both physical and mental needs when you’re feeling stressed and irritable.
Being aware of your boundaries can also help you to create space for rest when you need it. It can be difficult to balance boundaries between work and personal life, especially if we work from home. Research shows that there are positive relationships between mindfulness and work/life balance as well as mindfulness and job performance. This research indicates a positive relationship between workplace mindfulness and job performance and negative relationship between workplace mindfulness and turnover rate. That is, the more mindfulness we practice, the greater our performance and the less mindfulness we practice, the more we may see an increased turnover rate.
When practicing mindfulness and sticking to your boundaries can help you to perform more freely, with joy, and in accordance with your own capacities and desires.
The sector or institution you work for may require you to be in connection with various people throughout the day. You may work with a lot of people you don’t know well or with whom you don’t have deep connections. Sometimes, you may establish unhealthy patterns of communication when you’re experiencing challenging or stressful business relationships. Maybe a comment or reaction from a coworker or supervisor makes you upset and it may feel difficult to express yourself and maintain your boundaries.
By practicing compassion and acceptance, it is possible to be yourself despite challenging relationships and to establish patterns of communication through respecting both your own and the others’ boundaries. Your colleague is a person with strengths and weaknesses, just like you. Realizing this can enable you to evaluate the behaviors that upset you from a more objective perspective. Mindfulness practices can help you prioritize yourself, identify and communicate your needs and what you will and will not accept. Thus, you can name those situations that upset you and clarify your needs, providing clear feedback while also contributing to a pleasant work environment and team spirit.
Without a doubt, one of the major factors impacting our job performance is the ability to focus. In a study conducted in 2020, after two years of mindfulness and attention education, a significant increase was observed in the attention spans of students participating in the experiment. In another article examining the concept of mindfulness, findings were compiled showing that mindfulness contributes to focus, emotional regulation and intelligence, job performance, and constructive conflict resolution processes. Based on these results, we can see that mindfulness practices open the door to possibilities of a happier, productive, and creative business lives.
We all may experience the loss of motivation and enthusiasm in our working lives every once in a while, feeling disconnected from what drives us. In such moments, it’s important to treat yourself with compassion and to gently remind yourself that this is temporary. When you think about the past few weeks, in which of the above areas do you think you’re having the most difficulty? Remember, recognizing your needs is the first step toward fulfilling them.
Now, let’s take a look at some of our content that will help you adapt to your work pace and increase your motivation!
Translator: Ebru Peközer