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Marek Struszczyk

Co-Founder ManagerUp


Mindfulness is the practice of teaching your mind to be fully conscious. To be aware of your surroundings, yourself and your responses. But today we’re not asking what mindfulness is, but rather why practice mindfulness? And why you should start practicing it at work.

It’s simple really. Mindfulness doesn’t just make you more aware of yourself and your environment, but it also provides various other health benefits too.

Why is mindfulness important for executives? It helps them combat the negative effects of stress and anxiety on the body. Not only is stress taxing, but it also increases inflammation and can lead to chronic diseases of the brain and heart.

Countless people practice mindfulness to relieve stress and anxiety and enhance mental focus. Not to mention, mindfulness can help you cultivate positive habits and emotions, such as a positive frame of mind and perspective, self-consciousness, healthy sleep cycles, and sometimes even enhanced pain thresholds.

All these are incredibly valuable traits for anybody working in a busy modern-day office.

Why practice mindfulness at work

Most of us know firsthand that anxiety and worry can substantially impact the brain and body. Excess stress increases the body’s inflammatory responses and can lead to chronic cardiovascular and brain diseases.

Studies at firms such as Google, Aetna, and Intel have demonstrated that increasing mindfulness in the organization can reduce stress. And beyond that, it can also aid in boosting focus, attentiveness, decision-making skills, and overall health.

The science behind how mindfulness affects the body

Why practice mindfulness at work?

Practicing mindfulness at work can induce a relaxation response that activates the parasympathetic nervous system. It reduces heart and breathing rates, cardiac output, and muscle spasms. Which returns the body to a normal state following a stressful reaction.

Signs and symptoms of chronic stress are linked to an increased likelihood of grave disorders such as high blood pressure, heart abnormalities, trouble sleeping, fibromyalgia, gastrointestinal problems, mental illnesses, reduced reproductive capacity, and insulin resistance.

Studies show that mindfulness acts on different physiological markers related to anxiety and stress by reducing C-reactive polypeptides, interleukin six, and corticosterone.

The brain

Mindfulness meditation can induce neurocognitive changes in the activity and structure of the human brain.

Using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), researchers and experts have been investigating the physiological impacts of mindfulness and meditation.

They have discovered that the nervous system is capable of modifications throughout the adult years, even into old age. New connections can be formulated, and nerve cells develop whenever anyone discovers a new skill, challenges themselves intellectually, or simply workout.

This emerging view, that the brain is capable of being consistently molded through perspective, has overtaken the long-held belief that the brain’s biological path was essentially one of decline after the initial years of existence. This process has been dubbed neural plasticity.

On top of this, research on the brain indicates that mindfulness training may cause neuroplastic changes in the mind’s structure and operation

Studies using MRI revealed that mindfulness meditation stimulates a system of brain areas, including the insula (linked with kindness, compassion, and personality), the putamen (knowledge), and segments of the anterior cingulate cortex (which manages blood pressure, pulse rate, and other autonomic functions) and the cerebral cortex (the regulator of complex thinking skills such as executing, analyzing and managing social behavior).

The heart

Mindfulness can benefit physical health by lowering heart strain. Increased blood pressure provokes the heart to beat faster and pump more blood. This can lead to poor cardiovascular function as time passes.

Hypertension – or high blood pressure – caused by stress contributes significantly to coronary artery disease, or artery shrinking, which can result in a stroke or a cardiovascular event.

According to one study, different types of mindfulness meditation produced comparable blood pressure modifications. Mindfulness appears to reduce blood pressure in portions by soothing neural pathways that synchronize the cardiovascular system, vasculature tension, and the “fight-or-flight” response, which increases alertness during extreme events.

In a meta-analysis of 12 studies involving nearly 1000 participants, researchers observed mindfulness to reduce blood pressure. This method was more productive in elderly volunteer groups and individuals who were already patients with high blood pressure.

Other benefits of practicing mindfulness for executives

On top of the health benefits for your body, mindfulness also packs quite the punch when it comes to your mental health and well-being.

Mindfulness has been linked to improved cognition. Reducing the instances of forgetfulness, confusion, and mistakes. It may even contribute to enhanced team effectiveness and fewer errors because of this. Intensifying mindfulness in the office can result in increased commitment and involvement.

Not to mention, supporting the mental well-being of your employees can be an effective recruiting tool. Which would you prefer: a corporation that invests in its staff’s well-being or a firm that does not?

Intensifying mindfulness in the office can result in increased commitment and involvement. Which can reduce the costs associated with staff turnover.

Not to mention, supporting the mental well-being of your employees can be an effective recruiting tool. Which would you prefer: a corporation that invests in its staff’s well-being or a firm that does not?

Mindfulness case study

To see this in action, let’s look at a specific case study.

John, a leading software sector executive, had started working for a startup company.  The pressure of the job led him to suffer from long-standing worries, irrational work habits, and intense health concerns.

Mindfulness helped change his perspective. It helped him focus on the exciting challenges and opportunities around him rather than the issues and obstacles impeding his achievements.

Through a combination of executive coaching sessions, meditation and yoga practices, his ability to reframe self-perceived issues as possibilities have grown.

Companies that implement mindfulness

Google

Google is, without a doubt, among the most innovative corporations on the planet. They are at the forefront of technological development. From their cutting-edge optimization technique to their sleek hardware implementation.

However, you may not be aware that Google is also at the forefront of an emerging psychological motion known as positive psychology.

Google has invested a lot of time, energy, and funds in positive psychology. They offer courses and training programs to employees to keep them focused and alert.

The results are unquestionable: more conscious employees are more efficient and innovative. It’s reassuring for both the individual and the corporation.

General Mills

General Mills suggests employees practice mindfulness exercises at work as a core component of the organization’s mission to foster a balanced work environment.

The company offers numerous programs to help employees develop mindfulness habits, including an on-site mindfulness room and quarterly lunchtime presentations.

Intel

Intel has adopted a mindfulness program which they hope will establish a more welcoming and productive workplace community.  As an added bonus, it is expected to boost productivity, increase efficiency and lower medical costs.

Employees who were part of the mindfulness program reported increased creativity. Many employees even find that it assists them to be more prevalent and concentrated at work, while also being able to cope more effectively with work-related anxiety.

The bottom line

Mindfulness allows employees to reflect and be observant. This encourages mental acuity, adaptability, and self-awareness. Furthermore, mindfulness can help you learn how to cope with stressful situations, reducing the negative effects that stress can have on the body.

In short, if you came into this article asking, “why practice Mindfulness at work?” then we hope you’re coming out satisfied. Why not start practicing mindfulness at work today?

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