Mindfulness is something few professionals prioritize in their daily work schedule. When you have back-to-back meetings scheduled on top of a revolving list of project deadlines, scheduling 30 minutes for meditation and reflection when you barely have time for lunch can seem like the lowest priority on your list. Studies have shown, however, that setting aside that time for yourself to practice mindfulness can have a profound impact on the work you do.
Matthew from Team IAUG recently sat down with Debra Zabloudil, President and CEO of The Learning Studio, Inc., to discuss why mindfulness is so important in the workplace. In her career, Debra has used mindfulness as a tactic to deal with stress in leadership roles, so Matthew took a deep dive to better understand her strategy.
Matthew: How would you define mindfulness?
Debra: Mindfulness is simple. It’s being present and in the moment and paying attention. We think of mindfulness as meditation, but they are two separate things; meditation has been scientifically proven to help you become mindful, but there are many other ways to practice mindfulness. It can be something as simple as taking thirty seconds between meetings at work and taking a moment to think about how I’m showing up. Am I taking the stress of the last meeting into the next? It can be as simple as paying attention when I’m home and my child is asking for your attention. It’s shutting down my laptop and being present in the moment with my child. It’s simple but not necessarily easy.
Matthew: When I hear mindfulness, I think of spirituality. Some people might hear that and immediately become critical or suspicious. What would you say to someone like me who isn’t comfortable getting that deep but could still benefit from mindfulness?
Debra: I think that’s where mindfulness is more fact-based and less emotional. People who practice mindfulness sleep better. We ruminate less. I used to wake up at 4 AM and couldn’t go back to sleep. Being mindful and training your brain with mindfulness changes the physiology of your brain to become calmer and more relaxed over time. What’s amazing is that the benefits extend far beyond emotional and social implications; there are physical benefits as well. If you’re not sleeping well, that might be a reason to try practicing mindfulness. If you feel like you’re really stressed, mindfulness brings cortisol levels down over time. It gives your mind more stability and makes you calmer and more open minded. There are so many benefits to becoming mindful and you do not have to meditate. I would suggest once you start doing it, you start to realize that you have a deeper relationship with yourself.
After speaking with Debra, Matthew found himself practicing mindfulness on a regular basis. Whether it’s something as simple as taking a short walk in the middle of the work day to “reset” or something more complex like establishing boundaries between home and work, taking time to prioritize mindfulness can have tremendous implications for your stress management and productivity.