Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Mindfulness and the Working Woman

By Sara Engle von Bernthal

Do you sometimes feel frazzled, overworked and underappreciated? Would you enjoy a little freedom from the stress of the daily grind? Are you in dire need of improving your work-life balance? Implementing a daily practice of mindfulness may be the key to living a happier, less stressful, and more fulfilling life.

Mindfulness means being present and aware – without bias or judgment. By living moment to moment (rather than mired in worry about looming deadlines), we may experience lasting physical and psychological benefits, including an increased sense of calm, less anxiety, more gratitude, and higher levels of energy. Mindfulness can easily be incorporated into the following aspects of your life.

Exercise. Experience the miracle of moving. Start your day with a walk, a run or a yoga class. Enjoy the natural high derived from exercise. Allow the endorphins generated by your morning workout to jump start your day.

Commute. Take advantage of your commute by focusing only on the present. Consider a traffic jam as an opportunity to quiet your mind. Notice the glint of sun on the melting snow, the budding trees, the scents of spring and a cardinal’s song. Rather than replaying your to-do list in your mind, enjoy some pleasant music. If you cannot quiet your mind, redirect your mind to thoughts of gratitude for your many blessings.

Work. If your stress level is on the rise due to non-stop phone calls, emails and client commitments, pause and focus on the completion of a single item on your to-do list. By focusing on one task at a time (and deferring your response to emails and phone messages), you may actually experience greater efficiency and satisfaction in your work. Ruminating over your “to do” list is counterproductive, as it diverts attention away from the present task and wreaks havoc on concentration.

Meals. In this epidemic of obesity, take time to be mindful while eating. Refrain from eating in front of the television or eating at your desk. Savor the tastes, textures and smells of your food. Be mindful of feelings of fullness.

Sleep. Wind down your day with meditation. Be mindful of your breath, the quiet of your room, and the comfort of your bed. Replace your haphazard thoughts with the simple observance of an overhead fan or a gentle springtime breeze through your window. Be thankful for a good night’s sleep.

Mindfulness allows us to live life fully – rather than on autopilot. Hopefully, through mindfulness we can appreciate the beauty of nature, experience greater satisfaction and productivity in our work, savor our meals, sleep more soundly – and, ultimately, enjoy more peace and serenity in our lives.