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Mind-FULL at work?

Try incorporating a little mindfulness into your day

Peter and Michael Mierau with mother Elizabeth Troutt.
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Incorporating mindful moments at work

BY KAREN L. KYLIUK
Winnipeg Regional Health Authority
Wave, September / October 2016

Would you like to look forward to your weekdays as much as your weekends?

Or at the very least, would you like to leave work each day with enough energy to enjoy other life priorities such as family, friends and leisure activities?

If so, then maybe it's time to take a new approach to your workday, one that is less mind-FULL and more mindful.

Let me explain the difference between the two.

People who are mind-FULL tend to spend their workday multi-tasking - rushing from meeting to meeting, juggling several assignments at once, and trying to meet ridiculous deadlines as they slog through the day.

Not surprisingly, doing this day after day, week after week, can have quite a negative impact on one's health and well-being. Being overloaded and racing around during work can leave you feeling exhausted and overwhelmed by the end of the day.

And the irony is that this approach to work isn't even effective. Studies show multi-tasking in this way is actually counter-productive and drains your mental and physical energy, putting you at greater risk for stress reactions and health issues.

The good news: it doesn't have to be this way. The trick is to go from being mind-FULL to mindful.

Being mindful at work means intentionally paying attention to - and accepting - the here and now, without judgment. It means being aware of what you are doing, how you are doing, and how you handle and resolve work pressures.

Mindfulness works by increasing your mental alertness, enhancing self-awareness to better understand your own thoughts and feelings, and how you interact with others or respond to stressors.

Mindfulness also restores, replenishes and reserves energy while refreshing our minds to pay attention to what is truly important. We all want to experience a sense of calm and mastery when we are faced with challenges or pressures, and mindfulness teaches our brain to think about and respond to demanding situations in an objective, accepting and non-judgmental way.

So how does one become mindful at work?

The first step is to develop awareness of how you are feeling, doing and reacting throughout your workday. Jot down your observations about when your energy is waning or when are you feeling depleted. This reflective exercise supports you to identify when and how mindfulness can be used to de-escalate and reduce daily stress.

The second step is to experiment. Try different mindfulness activities (such as the ones listed on the page opposite) and find out what works for you. Some people prefer quick refreshers, such as taking a few focused breaths, while others choose to engage in more in-depth mindfulness practice, such as meditation. Experimenting with a variety of mindfulness activities will help you discover what works best for you, given your workload, personality and lifestyle.

Third, make a personal plan and commitment to incorporate mindfulness into your work day. Including mindful moments into your daily routine will change your way of being.

The bottom line: engaging in mindful moments at work on a regular basis will settle your mind, and offer a fresh perspective on the present. Be patient with yourself as you learn and explore mindfulness strategies. The key is to be aware and work within yourself, doing your best without being consumed by worries or distractions. You may even find mindfulness spilling into other areas of your life, such as home and family life, in positive ways. Live your life fully, each moment, of every day.

Karen L. Kyliuk is a mental health resource and education facilitator with the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.

Wave: September / October 2016

About Wave

Wave is published six times a year by the Winnipeg Health Region in cooperation with the Winnipeg Free Press. It is available at newsstands, hospitals and clinics throughout Winnipeg, as well as McNally Robinson Books.

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