By Your Headspace Mindfulness & Meditation Experts
The workplace can often be a source of intense stress, anxiety, and burnout. However, it can also be an ideal place for mindfulness and meditation. Meditating at work can reduce stress and frustration, while also boosting focus, compassion, energy, and productivity. At a time when so many of us spend a large portion of our lives at our jobs, the office may actually be the easiest and most consistent place to schedule meditation into our calendars! Learn how meditation while working can lead to a happier, healthier, and more productive workplace.
1. Less stress.
Need proof that meditation can significantly reduce stress in the workplace? A 2018 study found that people who used Headspace for only 10 days reported an 11% decrease in stress. After 30 days of using Headspace, they reported a 32% decrease.
Here’s how meditation can reverse the impact of stress on our minds and bodies:
It helps us regulate our emotions. When we practice meditation and become more comfortable with unpleasant thoughts and emotions that arise because of challenging situations, we learn how to react calmly, thoughtfully, and empathetically when faced with stress and challenges (which can be particularly valuable in the workplace).
It changes our brains, rewiring them to be more resilient to stress. Specifically, meditation can decrease neurological connections to the medial prefrontal cortex — the part of the brain responsible for fear, stress, and anxiety — while building new pathways to the parts of the brain responsible for focus and decision-making. Moreover, research shows that two key parts of the brain — the gray matter (responsible for emotional regulation, planning, problem-solving) and cortical thickness (learning, memory) — both increase with regular meditation practice. Alternatively, the amygdala (responsible for stress, fear, anxiety) decreases in size.
It improves stress biomarkers. When we meditate, the parasympathetic nervous system is stimulated, which can positively affect a range of stress-related biomarkers including lowered heart rate, reduced blood pressure, and fewer spikes in cortisol (the stress hormone).
2. More focus and productivity.
It’s true: research shows that completing just one 15-minute session of mediation (not using Headspace) resulted in 22% reduction in mind-wandering, and four weeks of using Headspace daily resulted in a 14% increase in focus. Imagine if we’re able to leverage the benefits of meditation at work — the more focused we are, the more productive we will be.
3. Easier teamwork.
Meditation has been shown to have a positive effect on employees being more collaborative and more compassionate at work. A 2015 study found that three weeks of using the Headspace app resulted in a 23% increase in compassion. Additional studies found that meditation reduced aggression by 57% and irritability by 27%. If your team is suffering from a lack of trust and poor communication, meditation could help turn things around.
4. Improved job satisfaction and engagement.
There’s a positive correlation between mindfulness and engagement at work, according to research. In a 2018 study published in the American Journal of Medicine, nurses who used Headspace for 30 days had significant improvements in job satisfaction. These results make perfect sense when you consider that mindfulness helps foster the characteristics that lead to enhanced engagement and job satisfaction, such as better relationships with coworkers, lower stress, and increased emotional balance and positivity.
Now that we’ve described some of the big benefits you can reap from meditating at work, you may be wondering how to begin. Follow these easy steps.
First, schedule some time for meditation, preferably at the same time every day. Try to block out some time earlier in the day, that way if you have a last minute conflict, you can reschedule it for later in the day.
Next, find a quiet place. This could be an empty conference room, a windowless office, a nearby park, or if space is at a premium, even your car. It doesn’t matter where you choose, as long as it’s quiet and there are minimal distractions.
Speaking of distractions, be sure to close email apps, and turn off digital notifications. People in most professions are able to step away from work for 10 to 15 minutes without dire consequences. You may be hesitant to do this in your office, but it’s an essential step to getting the most out of your practice. And think about it this way: the 10 or 15 minutes you spend meditating at work will make you more productive and effective at your job in the long run.
If your office’s location and the weather makes it practical for you to go outdoors for a walk, consider trying one of Headspace’s walking meditations, which can help you create a short, beneficial break in the middle of your workday. There are currently 10 meditations for walking, including Hit Reset (six minutes), Get Motivated (eight minutes) Connect With Your Body (eight minutes), Calm Your Nerves (nine minutes), and more. Now, put your headphones on, head out the door, and get started.
So, who is currently meditating at work? Thousands of people, including those who work at companies including Google, LinkedIn, Adobe, General Electric, Unilever, and biotech company Genentech have access to Headspace through their workplaces. These companies realize the value of taking their employees’ health seriously and have made a commitment to embracing mindfulness tools — specifically, Headspace — to reduce stress and increase physical and mental well-being.
“Beyond learning the fundamentals of meditation, people are using Headspace to get better sleep, to help manage stress and anxiety, to relax and to be more mindful in their daily lives,” wrote Nancy Vitale, Senior Vice President of Human Resources at Genentech. All 14,000 employees of Genentech have free access to the Headspace app.
It’s no surprise so many companies are turning to meditation given the staggering financial impact that stress, presenteeism, and poor mental health can have on business. According to the American Institute of Stress, companies experience as much as $300 billion in lost productivity annually, almost $200 billion in stress-related-illness expenses, and one million workers being absent every day.
Think your company might benefit from integrating mindfulness training for employees? Share this article and the Headspace for Work site with your company’s HR team.
By implementing mindfulness programs , companies across diverse industries are reaping the benefits of improved employee wellbeing. For example, one year after health care company Aetna implemented a mindfulness program (not using Headspace), healthcare costs fell 7%, saving the company over $6 million. Aetna’s study also found that mindfulness increased job effectiveness, with employees gaining an average of 62 minutes of productivity per week, ultimately saving the company $3,000 per employee per year.
Sounds too good to be true, right? It’s not though. Here’s one to try...
If you’re looking to relieve some work-related stress, a good place to start is this simple guided meditation. The teacher (Andy Puddicombe, co-founder of Headspace and an expert in mindfulness and meditation) leads you through the steps of a basic relaxation meditation technique.
At the end of the meditation, Andy asks you to check in with your mind and body, and notice if you feel more relaxed and calmer. If you do, that’s great! Try bringing that feeling of calmness into the rest of your workday. And if not, that’s perfectly normal, too. Don’t worry, you have tomorrow to show up and try it all over again.
Headspace has an entire library of meditation content that can help you develop mindfulness, release stress, improve focus, and harness your full mental potential in the workplace. When you’re ready, press play on Headspace’s 10-day beginner’s course on mindfulness basics — available with your membership or free trial. Jump into your new practice with the essentials. Once you get comfortable with the basics of meditation, the Meditation for Anxiety course may be a no-brainer, particularly if you’re experiencing stress at work. And the Meditation for Focus course could also be valuable.
Headspace also has meditations for specific life stages and situations, including work and performance. If this resonates with you try giving the following meditations a try: Letting Go of Stress, Prioritization, Finding Focus, and Creativity
Feel less stressed. Sleep more soundly. Bring more joy to your day. Sign up for a free trial.
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