Mindfulness at Work for World Wellbeing Week 2021
This week a client asked me to do some mindfulness / meditation at work with staff for World Wellbeing week, its some thing I have practiced for several years now but do not often teach so I was thrilled to be asked. It was great to see the welcome reaction from staff, to begin with many were a little unsure as to what we were doing but by the end all felt the benefits of taking just 15 minutes out of the day to properly relax and focus on themselves.
The two things I opted to do are very simple, first we did a few minutes practicing the ‘box breath’ followed by a guided body scan meditation. They are outlined in detail below so you can follow at home.
Ongoing, persistent high levels of stress is detrimental it can impact on us emotionally, mentally, and physically (HSE). Work-related stress, anxiety, and depression accounts for 50% of work-related illnesses according to the ESRI, so it makes sense for every aspect of your business / work to put in place supports to reduce stress at work. Meditation and breath work is proven to benefit our brains, it reducing stress and introducing a level of calm. Meditation can reduce the level of stress hormones in your blood and the best part is that you can do a simple piece of breath work in just a couple of minutes so it can easily be incorporated into anyone’s daily habits.
For both of the activities the participants sat on a chair with their feet flat on the ground, hands resting on their lap facing upwards.
Box breathing is a simple technique that can be practiced almost anywhere (you don’t have to be sitting or with your eyes closed, I use it driving sometimes!), it is regularly used by individuals in high-stress jobs when they face a fight or flight response and is excellent at re-centering yourself and improving focus and concentration.
- Close your eyes. Breathe in through your nose while counting to four slowly. Feel the air enter your lungs and pay attention to it energising you.
- Hold your breath inside while counting slowly to 4. Try not to clamp your mouth or nose shut. Simply avoid inhaling or exhaling for 4 seconds.
- Begin to slowly exhale for 4 seconds.
- Hold your breath out for a count of 4 seconds.
- Repeat steps 1 to 4 at least three times. Ideally, repeat the three steps for 4 minutes, or until calm returns.
There are different ways to do a body scan, the main aim is to draw your attention away from your thoughts and into your body. We know that the more connected we are with our own bodies the better able we are to address issues as they arise – and it’s also really relaxing! Here is my suggested method.
- Begin by bringing your attention into your body.
- You can close your eyes if that’s comfortable for you.
- You can notice your body seated wherever you’re seated, feeling the weight of your body on the chair, on the floor.
- Take a few deep breaths.
- And as you take a deep breath, bring in more oxygen enlivening the body. And as you exhale, have a sense of relaxing more deeply.
- You can notice your feet on the floor, notice the sensations of your feet touching the floor. The weight and pressure, vibration, heat.
- You can notice your legs against the chair, pressure, pulsing, heaviness, lightness.
- Notice your back against the chair. Is there any tension or tightness, breath in and as you breath out relax.
- Bring your attention into your stomach area. If your stomach is tense or tight, let it soften. Take a breath.
- Notice your hands. Are your hands tense or tight. See if you can allow them to soften. Concentrate on each finger one at a time, relax the muscles as you go.
- Notice your arms. Feel any sensation in your arms. Let your shoulders be soft.
- Notice your neck and throat. Let them be soft. Relax.
- Soften your jaw. If your tongue is touching the roof of your mouth let it fall away. Let your face and facial muscles be soft.
- Then notice your whole-body present, recognise how it is all interconnected and your breath bringing energy to the whole. Take one more deep breath.
- And then when you’re ready, you can open your eyes.
These are just two very simple options that are very fast and easy for anyone to do, trust me if I can manage them then so can you!