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How to use Mindfulness to Manage Stress
Using Mindfulness to Help Manage Stress at Work
Mental health problems, such as stress and anxiety, are one of the biggest causes of absence in businesses1. When you’re managing a busy schedule with targets to meet and managers to please, it’s common to feel overwhelmed sometimes.
Mindfulness is a growing trend; with more and more people becoming aware of the benefits and how it can help you to manage stressful situations in your professional and personal life, Bupa UK have shared some tips on how you can get started.
Stress in the Workplace
Everyone reacts to stress differently. Most people have their own tried and tested methods for dealing with it. Whether they involve taking it out on the treadmill, or going to the pub after work, everyone seeks a release in their own way.
It’s normal to feel stressed, and in some circumstances it can be good for you. Feeling pressure can help you to prepare for challenges in your life. However, being stressed for a long time can lead to physical and emotional problems with your health. 2
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is mind-body based training that uses different exercises and techniques to help you to live in the present.
The different methods will teach you to manage your feelings and thoughts, which can be particularly useful when you’re feeling stressed. Meditation, yoga and breathing exercises are all ways of practising mindfulness.2
Your physical and mental wellbeing is affected by the way you think and feel. So tuning into them and becoming more aware can help you manage them and cope with situations better.3
Benefits of Mindfulness
When you’re mindful on a regular basis, it has been proven that it can have an impact on your overall health and wellbeing. 3
Some of the benefits of mindfulness include:
- control to deal with your thoughts in a balanced way
- improved levels of concentration
- reduced levels of stress and anxiety
- more control of addictive behaviour
- mindfulness-based cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can help with depression 4
Being mindful can have a positive effect on some physical conditions, such as heart disease and chronic pain.
Where Do I Start?
Like with anything, it can be difficult to know where to start when you’re changing the way you think.
It sounds like a lot of work, doesn’t it? It doesn’t have to be.
The key is to take things one step at a time so you don’t feel overwhelmed at any point.4
Here are some easy starting points to consider:
Attend a Yoga Class
If you’ve never been to yoga before, why not attend a beginner’s class to see what it’s all about? It’s also a win-win situation because yoga is good for your physical health as well as your mental health.5
Try to be more conscious of your thoughts and feelings
Simply paying attention to what you’re thinking and feeling can help you to start being more mindful. The key is not to think about the past or the future – just be in the present moment.3
Take note of what’s around you
Our senses are there for a reason, but often we forget to use them. When you’re out and about, try being more conscious of your surroundings; what can you see, touch, taste and smell?
Give mindfulness a try when you’re on the move
With more and more people becoming aware of the benefits of mindfulness, some businesses are making it easy for you to try guided mindfulness meditation. Apps like Headspace and Calm teach you breathing exercises from your smartphone.
Jane Bozier, registered nurse and mindfulness expert at Bupa UK, recently recorded these mindfulness podcasts about giving it a try in everyday situations.
Mindfulness at Work
Now you’ve got a better understanding of the benefits of mindfulness and how you can start adopting some of the techniques into your everyday life, it’s time to start thinking about trying it at work.
People often think that they’re too busy at work to try mindfulness, or that they’ll find it too distracting. Here are some simple steps you can take to feel more conscious of your feelings during your day.
Paying attention to what you’re eating can help you to enjoy your food more whilst being mindful. It can also stop you from overeating, which can benefit your overall health.6
Dr Pablo Vandenabelle, Bupa UK’s clinical director of mental health, shares his eight top tips for loving your food more with mindful eating.
Go for a Walk
Going on walks can help to calm the mind and gain perspective on things, especially if you’re having a stressful day. Try taking a walk on your lunch break or walking to and from work, if you’re able to.5
Be Mindful While You’re Waiting
If you’re waiting for something – whether you’re in the lift or you’re waiting for a colleague to arrive for a meeting – try using that time to do some breathing exercises and be mindful. When you’re having a busy day having to wait for something can be frustrating; making use of this time to do some quick exercises can help you remain calm.
It’s easy to fall into the habit of not taking breaks, but it’s important that you do. Letting your mind rest for a while can help to boost your performance and productivity.3 If you work in an office, try having a digital detox during your lunch break and let your mind wander.
If you notice that you’re starting to feel stressed about something, acknowledge it. It’s a really important step in taking the path to tackle it. If you’re feeling tired, under the weather, have headaches or tense muscles – ask yourself if it could be the result of stress. Don’t shy away or ignore the signs.2
Giving Mindfulness a Try
There are plenty of benefits to being mindful.
Taking small steps to try and change the way you think while practising different mindfulness exercises can have a positive impact on the way you feel and act in stressful situations, in both your professional and personal life.
For more mindfulness information and advice, read Jane Bozier’s tips for positive mindfulness.
About the Author
Sophie Mellor is a digital content writer for Bupa UK. The team at Bupa want to help people live longer, healthier and happier lives by sharing useful, easy to adopt tips on health and wellbeing. Read more in the Bupa UK blog.
2. Stress. Mental Health Foundation., accessed 13 November 2015
3. About mindfulness. Oxford Mindfulness Centre., accessed 13 November 2015
4. Mindfulness. Mental Health Foundation., accessed 11 November 2015
5. Let’s get physical. Mental Health Foundation., published 2013
6. Timmerman GM, Brown A. The effect of mindful restaurant eating intervention on weight management in women. J Nutr Educ Behav 2012; 44(1): 22-8. Doi:410.1016/j.jneb.2011.03.143. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3259454/