By now, you’ve probably heard of mindfulness. In the last several years, the practice of it has become more popular in the U.S. With roots in ancient Far East teaching, mindfulness became more widely known within western culture as a tool for clinical therapy by psychologists in the 1970s. Since that time, its application has been shown to improve depression and behavioral issues related to mental illness and autism. Because of its effect and ability to, for all intents, treat a number of issues, everyday individuals have begun implementing the practical tenets of mindfulness into daily routines with remarkably positive results.
Indeed, this is true for career-focused individuals as well. With Americans working more hours than most countries, and other factors like home life contributing to daily concerns, stress has become an epidemic in our country, and work-related stress leads is at the forefront. In fact, research from Carnegie Mellon University shows that the rate of stress between 1983 and 2009 increased by about 18 and 24 percent for women and men, respectively. Additionally, research published just last month from Workplace Options, which focuses solely on employee well-being, examined data from 100,000 individuals, in 5 continents, with its Employee Assistant Programs. The organization concluded that between 2012 and 2014, work-related stress increased 28 percent, and depression, by 58 percent.
This is especially disconcerting given the effects of long term stress on the body, including headaches, insomnia, unintended weight loss, heart disease, and even premature death. As a result, many have looked for tools of better managing stress and excelling despite hardship. These tools include therapy, medication, exercise and, of course, mindfulness.
Mindfulness works for many people because it leads the individual to assess stressful or potentially stressful situations and to express the feeling, analyze what is going on, and direct a course of action as a result, rather than allowing one’s body to simply react. The goal is to control the mind rather than allowing the mind to dictate how one should respond.
In addition to managing stress, successful individuals will find mindfulness is a great tool for increasing productivity as well. Though work responsibilities pile up, leading to more distractions, mindfulness causes individuals to focus on what is before and concentrate one thing at a time. While this may sound like basic knowledge, such is rarely practiced. Instead, many people allow their minds to run on about home life, and the next project, and what went wrong or right from before. Mindfulness is all about living in the present.
The first step in dealing with stress is to be aware. The second step is to create a plan to manage it. While mindfulness is not a cure all for everything, it can be helpful in regaining control of your life and increasing your productivity in the process. If the intent is to be successful, meaning to reach a set goal or a certain level (not just to become wealthy) one has to be mentally tough to do so. Afterall, success and self-care go hand in hand.