North Americans have adopted meditation and mindfulness because it can improve work performance, personal relationships, and health. In an average 9-to-5 work day, just 5 minutes of deep breathing, reflection, and tension release can work to decrease stress levels and increase overall productivity.
The implementation of a daily practice has helped many working adults, says Yunha Kim, Founder and CEO of Simple Habit. After discovering the benefits of mindfulness, Kim created an app for working people to listen to on-the-go 5-minute meditations. Even just one week of brief daily mindfulness meditation practice has been found to produce significant benefits.
She openly shared her benefits and recommendations with me via e-mail:
Improved Focus. Get Distracted Less.
Practicing mindfulness and meditation has been shown repeatedly to improve our ability to sustain attention and decrease external and internal distractions. Researchers from Harvard Medical School found that a meditation program led to changes in brain regions involving learning and working memory capacity.
This is important as working memory is crucial for reasoning and guiding our decisions and behavior, especially in the work-place. In fact, those who worked in high-stress work environments and practiced meditation could stay on a task longer, managed their time better, and received positive feedback after a task performance.
Improved Creativity. Think Outside the Box.
Mindfulness meditation practice can lead to improvements in problem-solving creative solutions as well as promote divergent thinking. Research done at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands has found a link between mindfulness and creativity including increased insight problem-solving and reduced cognitive rigidity. The more a person continues to practice mindfulness meditation regularly, the more open they are to bold and creative ideas.
Improve Your Mood.
The consistent practice of mindfulness meditation can also have a notable beneficial impact on our overall mood, including reducing severe depression and anxiety. A study from Boston University has shown that mindfulness and meditation-based programs lead to significant reductions in clinical levels of anxiety and depression across a range of conditions and an increase in patience and positivity. A daily practice can help to carry this optimism into the workplace and boost satisfaction.
Meditation = Stress Less.
Stress has been linked to a wide range of medical problems, including hypertension, heart disease, substance abuse, anxiety, and depression. A study done at Stanford University School of Medicine shows that those who practice mindfulness meditation display a reduction in stress-related symptoms, and report increases in their sense of control in their lives. For instance, mindfulness meditation can produce a 30% reduction in symptoms of stress among those with a serious illness.
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Strengthen Your Personal and Professional Relationships.
Learning to be more mindful has a positive impact on yourself and those around you. Increased mindfulness leads to significant improvements in work relationships and friendships, due to communication and expression of emotions. After becoming more emotionally intelligent through meditation, relationships become easier and natural. In fact, people who meditate tend to show more acceptance towards each other and can create more welcoming and holistic work environments.