Mindfulness and Stress
As part of our corporate wellness program, I listened to a webinar on stress.
Here are some of the things the speaker shared:
- It’s understandable that so many of us feel stress at work and at home because the demands on our time and our energy continue to increase, but our capacity does not.
- Multitasking work environments kill productivity, dampen creativity, and weakens our minds.
- Resilience—bouncing back from challenges and adapting to address them so we thrive—is a trainable skill.
- Stress comes from the fight or flight mode. A part of our brain (the amygdala) shuts down and we tend to go into survival mode. We have the same response to real or perceived threats. For example, 99% of the time a loud noise in the woods is just a twig, not a bear, yet we still get our guard up. Or in the workplace we have a severe reaction from an email, despite it being a perceived threat, not an existential one—and then we react from anger or fear which results in fight or flight.
- The thinking brain is slower than the emotional brain. If we take the information and respond mindfully, we will be more resilient.
- Forty-seven percent of the time our minds are not in the present moment. We’re thinking about the future: the way things may or may not be. Or we are thinking about the past: fretting about things that have already happened. It is helpful to cultivate the ability to pay attention to the present moment, to be present with openness and kindness.
- A mindfulness practice helps lower blood pressure and the cortisol levels. (Cortisol is known as “the stress hormone”.) It can be as simple as just breathing in and out to the count of six for one minute to calm and relax you. Try to focus 100% of your attention on the breathing. Your mind will wander. When you realize it has, return your attention. You will be alert, but relaxed; upright, but not rigid. You will have quieted the fight or flight part of the brain.
- Creating a present moment awareness is simple, but not simplistic, and not easy. It takes practice.
Do you use a mindfulness practice to help you have less stress at work? Please join the conversation with your comments…