20 January, 2020
Today is Blue Monday – the gloomiest day of the year. The festivities are over, the nights are dark and long, and the bills need settling before pay-day.
PR puff perhaps, but a good prompt for us all to check our mental health and commit to self-care habits that might already be slipping away with the rest of our New Year’s resolutions.
At Amazon, we have been focusing on mental health in the workplace through mindfulness practice. Mindfulness has well-published benefits – improving mental and physical health, concentration and creativity.
Companies across the world are employing mindfulness strategies and seeing the positive impact it can have on employees’ sense of fulfilment and productivity. It is not an overnight solution for all of life’s ills however. Mindfulness, we are discovering, requires openness, commitment and patience in order to see benefits.
We’ve compiled some tips which we plan to follow this year:
- Try mindfulness meditation at home in the morning before work. The UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Centre has some excellent guided meditations here. And there are several popular meditation apps such as Headspace, Insight Timer or Calm.
- Take a ‘mindful pause’ during the workday, away from your computer and your phone. Look out of the window, take a stroll around the office or just make a round of drinks. Notice the sensations of your body and your breathing. Focus your attention here for a few moments. This helps you come back to your natural rhythm.
- Sit comfortably and with your back supported. Pay attention to your body. Notice any discomfort and adjust your posture if you need to. Sitting upright and supported will help you concentrate. If you are struggling, posture is the first thing to address.
- Paying attention to sensations in your body will help you ‘get out of your head’. You can’t notice sensations and think at the same time. Focusing on the feeling of your body and coming back to your senses helps counter stress and anxious thoughts.
- Try to ‘uni-task’. Close your emails so you can focus on one task at a time. If you are tempted to check your phone or to quickly hop online, notice this urge and come back to the physical task of whatever you are doing in that moment.
- In meetings, practice mindful and active listening. Whether with colleagues or clients, fully dedicate your attention to listening to what people are saying before responding. See how this affects the contributions you are able to make.
Whatever our motivation, the experts tell us that making time to practice mindfulness meditation and then bringing that mindful awareness to the rest of our lives has transformative potential. The only way to know if mindfulness will be useful for you is to try it for a week and notice any changes. Then, see if it’s something you want to keep up.
That’s certainly our plan. Let us know how you get on!