What is mindfulness and how can it benefit me?
Mindfulness and meditation have been around for centuries but only recently gained widespread popularity—mindfulness even landed itself on the cover of Time. These days it's hard to go a week without hearing someone tout the benefits of meditation, yoga or mindfulness. But what exactly is mindfulness and how can you use it to your benefit at work and at home?
Mindfulness is about being present and in increasingly difficult in a world full of distractions. How many times have you finished reading a document only to realize you can't remember any of it because you were thinking about something else or gotten home and realized you can barely remember driving there? Some say that roughly 70,000 thoughts run through our brains each day, that's almost 50 thoughts every minute! When these thoughts become stressful and make it difficult to concentrate on the task at hand, mindfulness can help.
You don't have to become a yogi or dedicate hours to silence and mediation to reap the benefits of mindfulness. A few minutes a day of silent reflection can help you de-stress and increase your focus on the task at hand.
● At the start of the day, use your time in the shower to just be. Sometimes our best ideas crop up at the strangest of times, but allowing for a few moments of peace at the start of the day can change your entire outlook.
● Take a few breaks throughout the day to stop and focus on your breathing. Close your eyes and focus on how you feel. Count your breaths and bring your attention back to your breathing anytime it wanders. Doing this for five minutes when you get to the office and before and after lunch can be a great way to prepare yourself for what you'll be doing next. Allowing yourself to let go of any stresses from your commute or experiences from lunch can help you focus more fully on your work.
● On your drive home, focus only on the driving. Trying to solve work problems on your way home can seem like a good idea but it can mean that you get home with more worries than when you left work. Allowing yourself time to unwind from work on your way home helps you transition quickly to home life and spend more quality time with your family and friends.
Make sure you aren't using mindfulness to escape from thinking deeply. The answers to your problems won't fall into your lap while you're practicing mindfulness. So, use mindfulness to help you relax and transition from one activity to the next. It will help you focus and do better work during the day and have quality time with loved ones at night.