Provided by: News and Experts
If you snooze, you lose, but taking a focused mental break has stress-relieving benefits.
The co-worker two cubicles down who appears to be nodding off may not be indulging in an afternoon nap after all.
That employee could be in a state of meditation, and the bosses likely are happy about that—or at least they should be.
“It’s not uncommon now for big corporations to encourage meditation during breaks and even hold meditation events during working hours,” says Dr. Barbara Cox, a consulting psychologist and coach who specializes in working with innovative leaders and organizations.
“Research shows there are significant effects on physical and mental health for people who practice meditation, self-hypnosis, and other stress-management tools,” she adds.
Among the benefits:
• Improved ability to manage stress. Life is filled with stress, and the average workday can provide a host of new triggers that add to stress, whether it’s a demanding supervisor, a difficult client, or uncooperative co-workers, just to name a few. “Stressful situations are going to happen,” Barbara says. “So, the question becomes how well you can handle the stress. Meditation can assist in that.”
• Increased quality of sleep. Meditation can help people with their sleep issues, according to research by Harvard University, Northwestern Memorial Hospital. That doesn’t mean meditating only before bedtime. It also helps to practice meditation during the day, so you can more easily get into that relaxed state at night. “And if you get a good night’s sleep, you’re more likely to perform well at work the next day,” she says.
• More mental energy. People often feel tired during the workday, even if they don’t have a physically demanding job. One reason is mental exertion, some of which goes back to all that stress, Barbara says. Meditation can help restore both your physical and mental energy.
• Greater ability to concentrate. For many people, it doesn’t take much to let their minds wander, especially these days when distractions such as smartphones and internet connections are close at hand to give them an extra reason to lose focus. Those who meditate are better able to focus on ideas and remember facts without getting easily distracted, and there’s research by the University of California at Santa Barbara to back that up.
“Supervisors need to take note of all that research if they haven’t already,” the doctor adds. “Companies are always looking for ways to improve productivity, and meditation can help lead to a happier workforce and a more efficient one.”
Bringing the benefits of meditation into a company doesn’t have to be a major undertaking.
“You can start small,” Barbara says. “You could have a meditation week where everyone meditates at the same time every day for one week. You could have a meditation challenge between departments or send out weekly meditations in the company newsletter. You could even begin your meetings with a two-minute meditation.
“The key is to just get started because the sooner you do, the sooner your company will experience the results,” she adds.
About the doctor
Barbara Cox is a consultant and coach for innovative leaders and organizations. To learn more about meditation, try one of the free guided recordings at drcoxconsulting.com. Her advice has been featured in local and national publications, including msn.com, Cosmopolitan, and holistic health and wellness publications. She earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of California at San Diego. She has master’s and doctorate degrees in psychology from Alliant International University at San Diego.