The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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March 23, 2013

Relieve workplace stress through 'mindfulness'

Increasingly, the corporate world is turning to the practice of “mindfulness” to relieve stress and improve both health and productivity.

Mindfulness is associated with meditation. It's a spiritual or psychological faculty believed to be an important step on the road to enlightenment. It's reached by establishing a state of calm through meditation and relaxation exercises.

Mindfulness in the workplace

In recent years, businesses have encouraged the practice as a way to reduce tension in the workplace. The more pressure an employee is under, the thinking goes, the more they benefit from a state of mindfulness.

For example, before the start of an important meeting, attendees might be asked to participate in a relaxation or meditation exercise to improve their ability to focus and communicate. Studies have found that teams that practice just a few minutes a day of mindfulness report improved team performance.

How do you achieve mindfulness? It can start with something as simple as breathing.

Exercises

A breathing exercise focuses your full attention on this life-preserving function. In this mindfulness exercise you breath from your stomach rather than your chest.

You inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Focusing on each breath, its sound and rhythm, can have a calming effect and help you stay focused on the present moment.

Listening to music can also help achieve mindfulness. Some people prefer new-age music, others classical pieces. The important thing is that it be a slow, soothing tempo to enhance a feeling of calm. Listen to and concentrate on just the music, keeping other thoughts and concerns from creeping in.

If you find that your mind is full of pressing thoughts that are simply impossible to ignore, try looking at them as an objective observer. Let your thoughts flow and sit back and observe them, as though they were someone else's problems. As you continue this process you might find that your mind relaxes a bit. You might even come up with some answers.

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