There have been numerous studies done that illuminate the benefits of mindfulness in the workplace… but what about while working from home (WFH)? Now that more people are working from their kitchen table, the benefits of mindfulness are being put to the test of helping people maintain balance between personal time and professional tasks. Lucky for us, whether you’re at your office or on your couch, the benefits of mindfulness are still in full effect and are, if anything, even more important.
Here are a few important benefits of mindfulness that contribute to overall wellbeing while you’re working from home (WFH):
Reduces Stress & Anxiety
Mindfulness makes perfect sense for dealing with any stress and anxiety you may be experiencing due to the pandemic because it takes you out of fight-or-flight mode and brings you into a relaxed state of mental clarity and calm. Scientifically, mindfulness practices reduce activity in the stress initiating part of your brain called the amygdala and activate the relaxation response in your body.
“After the great recession, I started meditating and now begin every day with 12 minutes of meditation. That routine has helped me stay mindful, pragmatic and put out positive energy. In the midst of a crisis, you need to personally embody the attitude that you want your team and your own business to demonstrate.”–Sharat Sharan, CEO, President & Co-Founder of ON24
Improves your Focus & Productivity
Studies show that meditation training can improve your ability to focus on one thing at a time and help curb our tendency for distraction. This ability to focus will start to translate to everything you do at home, whether it be working or doing the dishes. It helps you to avoid multi-tasking, and places an emphasis on mono-tasking. After all, a focused mind is a productive mind.
Not only does mindfulness improve our focus and attention, it also translates to those around us in wonderful ways. According to Shauna Shapiro, an internationally recognized expert in mindfulness and compassion, “mindfulness is more than moment to moment awareness. It is a kind, curious awareness that helps us relate to ourselves and others with compassion.” In today’s climate, we all need compassion and research shows that by practicing mindfulness we can increase our capacity for empathy and compassion for others and our self. In a recent study, Shapiro and her colleagues examined the impact of mindfulness training on counseling psychology students and discovered that it significantly increased self-compassion—which, in turn, led to declines in stress and negative emotion and increases in positive emotion. In addition, another similar study demonstrated that how we treat ourselves is highly correlated with how we treat others: When therapists rated how compassionate they were with themselves versus how critical and self-blaming, their ratings correlated highly with how they related to their patients.
“What we practice becomes stronger. If you think about it, we are relating to ourselves 24 hours a day—we are practicing this way of relating constantly. So if mindfulness truly does, as I believe, involve a kind, open, curious attitude toward yourself, it builds the self-compassion that helps foster compassion toward others. “-Shauna Shapiro
Increases Emotional Intelligence, Resilience & Patience
According to Peerayuth Charoensukmongkol, mindfulness meditation helps increase emotional intelligence in three major ways: It improves your ability to comprehend your own emotions; It helps you learn how to recognize the emotions of other people around you; It strengthens your ability to govern and control your emotions. He also notes that mindfulness improves a person’s ability to use their emotions effectively by helping them determine which emotions are beneficial when undertaking certain activities.
Archana Patchirajan, successful CEO and Founder of Sattva, shared that in her early years as a leader, she wanted things to happen how she wanted them to happen and on her schedule. “I didn’t tend to understand what my team was going through. I would just get angry if they did not perform according to my expectations. Thanks to meditation I have developed patience,” Archana says. ”I have a better relationship with my team. Best of all, I maintain my peace of mind.”
We live in a world full of distractions, especially now. With the constant influx of news, tweets and texts, many of us have lost our ability to actively listen and be present. By incorporating mindfulness into your day, you can retrain yourself to focus on the present moment and truly listen to people with compassion and kindness. Not only does this have a positive impact on the people around you, it makes your day more interesting because you are engaging in active conversations with your loved ones and colleagues.
As seen, bringing mindfulness to your work from home (WFH) routine has the potential to decrease stress and anxiety through heightened awareness, which in turn leads to improved productivity and overall wellbeing. Also, perhaps most importantly from a leadership perspective, mindfulness encourages presence. Being fully present as a leader — even on a zoom meeting — will make everyone on your screen calmer and more connected.
So how can you start? Take a few mindfulness breaks at your desk each day. Stop what you’re doing, close your eyes, relax, and take a few deep breaths. Breathing in I know that I’m breathing in, Breathing Out I smile. That’s a great place to start and you can build from there.