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Mindfulness to Improve Your Happiness and Well-Being

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Mind-full or Mindful?

After celebrating the end of 2020 with great enthusiasm, we are back to reality. The stress and anxiety that have plagued us since March are creeping their way back now that the holiday festivities are over. Our minds are left full of questions, thoughts, and worries.

The biggest one being: Will 2021 be better?

What if we told you that you can start making this year better right now? You’d probably think that is impossible given the circumstances. You’re working from home while your kids are remote learning, unsure about the stability of your job and finances, worrying about the health of your loved ones. How can you possibly feel at peace at a time like this?

There is a solution: implementing daily acts of mindfulness can make this volatile environment feel less stressful. We’re here to walk you through how to make these small changes and why it is so beneficial.

Why Practice Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is the ability to be fully present and aware of how you feel at a given moment. It may seem simple, even trivial, but being more mindful is scientifically proven to benefit your mental and physical health. This in turn creates a healthier and more productive workplace.

Here are just a few of the reasons why you should add mindfulness into your daily routine:   

  • Reduced stress, anxiety, and depression: Putting space between you and your stressful situation can help alleviate anxiety. In addition, learning to redirect your negative thoughts to something positive can be a successful way of treating depression. Studies show that meditation actually causes the amygdala, the part of the brain in charge of fear, stress, and anxiety, to shrink.   
  • Improved cognition and working memory: As mentioned above, meditating everyday actually changes your brain, which can improve memory in addition to reducing stress. One study showed that practicing mindfulness for 8 weeks increased the volume of brain regions in charge of learning and memory, such as the hippocampus. 
  • Reduced tendency to get distracted: Just a couple of weeks of daily meditation can improve your focus and concentration. Research shows that it decreases mind wandering by reducing activity in the brain region known as the default mode network. This helps us stay focused and redirect our thoughts quickly when we do get distracted. 
  • Improved emotional regulation: Stressful situations, especially unexpected ones, can leave you feeling frustrated, angry, and anxious. Practicing mindfulness helps reduce emotional reactivity, allowing you to shift your focus away from the negative situation. 
  • Improved immune function: By reducing your stress levels through meditation, you can actually help your immune system. This is vital in the midst of this global pandemic. 

Mindfulness While Living in a Volatile Environment

The pandemic has created a high stress environment for many people. Lay offs, excess workload, decreased social interaction, kids learning remotely, financial stress, etc. After almost a year, it has really taken a toll on everyone’s mental health. Therefore, learning to redirect your thoughts through meditation can be so beneficial for alleviating the stress and anxiety.

Not only has our new, ever-changing environment brought on excess stress, it has also added even more distractions, This can lead to decreased productivity in the workplace. Most living rooms have switched from a place to relax, to an office, conference room, and classroom all rolled into one. You cannot focus on work when your kids are running around playing. Nor can you unwind on the couch at night when your mind is racing with thoughts about work. While practicing mindfulness will not get rid of these distractions, it will teach you how to focus on the task at hand and separate work time from “you” time.

How to Practice Mindfulness

Now that you know why you should practice mindfulness, here are some ways you can start practicing right now:

  • Meditate: Close your eyes and focus on the sensations of your body and breath. Notice any thoughts that may come up and then redirect your attention back to your breath. 
  • Find joy in the little things: Reading a book, talking to a friend on the phone, and your morning cup of coffee are all simple things that can bring you joy. 
  • Write down things you are thankful for every morning: By starting your day on a positive note, you’ll be less likely to focus on any negative thoughts that come up. 
  • Put away your phone while working: This will reduce mindless scrolling through social media and distractions.
  • Be aware of your emotions as they arise: When you experience a stressful or frustrating situation, pay attention to your emotions. You will be able to feel your anger or anxiety rising and can then redirect your thoughts to something positive or look at the situation from a new perspective. 
  • Set boundaries: Working remotely means we could be online and available 24/7. Choose to take time away from answering emails or thinking about work so you can be fully present in other aspects of your life. 

Start Slow and Give Yourself Time

While mindfulness is not a panacea, research shows that you can reap many benefits by practicing it a little everyday. However, it is important to remember that the point of mindfulness is to reduce your stress. So don’t get frustrated with yourself if your mind keeps wandering off in the middle of your meditation session. It may take you a little while to get the hang of it, but stay positive. 

In the words of Buddha, “Our life is shaped by our mind, for we become what we think.” 

Corporate Wellness

The Untapped Power – Mindfulness Meditation

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Let’s rewind to 2014 for a moment. B.Komplete was just getting started and I was just beginning to develop the wellness programs you see from us today.  While researching comprehensive wellness programs, one of the keys to well-being that I discovered was the power of mindfulness and meditation. Well-being is far more than physical health – mental and emotional health are also vital to overall wellness. With this in mind, myself and my team developed a variety of stress reduction tools to guide anyone to a healthier mindset. B.Komplete now offers life coaching, yoga, meditation, chair massage, acupuncture, stress reduction stations, stress reduction seminars, workshops, and stress reduction challenges.

Fast forward to 2017 when I had been away from the “front lines” for a bit too long, and knew that I had to get out there.  I decided it made sense for me to personally teach one of our stress reduction workshops. At this point I was practicing yoga frequently and had learned a little bit about meditation and how to use it. However, I had never really focused on becoming mindful myself, and I had definitely never committed to doing so on a consistent basis. I am a firm believer that in order to be the most effective teacher you can be, you must have personal experience with the subject matter. I wanted to experience the power of mindfulness and meditation for myself, and be able to share my experience with others. Here’s a little bit more about my journey to unlock my power through mindfulness meditation…

Life Before Mindfulness Meditation

Life before mindfulness meditation…

I have been a high stress person throughout my entire life. Stress has always been a major factor in my life, and probably always will be. Soon after starting graduate school I noticed I was losing large clumps of hair. I was obviously alarmed, and saw my doctor. The doctor told me, “you need to chill out a little bit, don’t let the school kill you.” Like I said, stress was a major factor for me. I noticed other physical changes in my body during periods of great stress. My body weight would fluctuate, my jaw would be sore from grinding my teeth, I had dark circles under my eyes. I could tell my body was not happy with the way I was handling stress.

 

How My Journey Began

I started with a 30 day mindfulness meditation practice. I practiced between 5 and 8 minutes daily and it was perfect. I found that it was really helpful to practice first thing in the morning, before starting work.

The changes I experienced during the first 30 days…

First of all, I gained an awareness that I had not been very mindful at all before starting this practice. As I made my way through the first 30 days I grew a whole new view of the world around me. I appreciated the nature, the scenery, and the leaves on the trees so much more. My world became much more vivid, more beautiful, and more inspirational, as I became more mindful.

My overall impression of my mindfulness and meditation practice…

It blew my mind! It totally changed my life by expanding my horizons and changing the way I perceived the world. I started noticing I was able to handle my stress in a much healthier way and had this new, positive outlook on life. I was more capable of handling stressful situations. As soon as I started my practice, I developed resiliency. When life tried to knock me down, I came back stronger and more focused. I started to notice my reactions changing. When difficult situations presented themselves I resorted to my practice.

The specific factors that helped me gain the full potential of my practice…

Developing a personal mantra was incredibly beneficial to me. In times when stress was mounting inside me, I came back to my breath and my mantra. The mantra drew me back to the present moment and brought me clarity and focus. I could feel the anger, frustration, stress, and other negative emotions dissipate as I focused myself on the present moment using my mantra. The way I see a mantra, is as a tool to change your mindset. I developed my mantra to help motivate me professionally by using words I connected deeply with to create a phrase I knew would help me get my mind back on the right track.

As a business professional, mindfulness helps me work.

Mindfulness has greatly benefited me from a professional standpoint. When business gets overwhelming, I take a step back and focus on what is going on right now. Mindfulness makes the tough stuff easier to handle. One thing I have struggled with in the past is focusing too much on the future. I would start to think about everything I had on my to do list and it became cumbersome. Mindfulness has helped me take a step back. I take things day by day now. I focus on what needs to be accomplished each day, and I do it. This has made my life so much more manageable. I find much more happiness and excitement in my day to day work now that I concentrate on one day instead of worrying about the next 3 months!

Recommended Tools to Get Started with Mindfulness and Meditation.

The Center for Wellness at Harvard University has great resources from guided meditations to mindfulness tools. When I was first starting my practice I used online, guided meditations.

B.Komplete offers a wide variety of stress reduction programs. If you are interested in personally benefiting from a mindfulness and meditation practice, and would like to share this gift with your office group, contact us at info@bkomplete.com for additional information and to schedule our stress reduction events.