5 Ways Mindfulness Can Help Decrease Stress and Increase Resilience

As you headed to the office this morning, your mind was probably racing with thoughts about all the work on your plate, all the emails, phone calls and messages you’d have to deal with, and all the things you’d have to get done when you returned home. It’s little wonder you’re feeling stressed, anxious, worn out and possibly burnt out.

The good news is there’s a powerful way to combat life’s stressors and increase resiliency. Mindfulness. It’s the practice of paying attention to the present moment and focusing on your thoughts, feelings and surroundings so that you can make wiser decisions and take more considerate actions throughout your day. Now, before you click off, consider that in scientific study after study, mindfulness has proven to be highly beneficial.

By focusing your attention on the present moment in an accepting, nonjudgmental way, and simply coming back to the present moment again and again, you can train yourself to be more thoughtful, focused, connected and attentive to what’s going on with and around you. You also can increase your creativity, compassion and emotional intelligence, which have become highly prized leadership skills.

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” — Viktor Frankl, Author of Man’s Search for Meaning

Just as exercising, getting good sleep and eating healthy foods can make the body stronger, more flexible and physically resilient, mindfulness can cultivate and strengthen the mind’s capacities to be more mentally and emotionally resilient. And the best part? You can practice mindfulness pretty much anywhere and anytime — like getting dressed in the morning, commuting to work, sitting at your desk, taking a break, attending a meeting, waiting in line, watching your kid’s game — the opportunities are endless.

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health reported that one study revealed that practicing mindfulness meditation appears to be associated with measurable changes in the brain regions involved in memory, learning and emotion. It also states that scientific evidence suggests that mindfulness cultivates abilities to maintain focused and clear attention, and develop increased awareness of the present, which may help reduce symptoms of stress, including anxiety and depression.

“The information we’re being bombarded with can be anxiety-producing and it can create a sense of disconnection that can overwhelm us in our personal and professional lives.”
— Janice Marturano, Founder & Executive Director, Institute for Mindful Leadership.

Just looking up information on mindfulness can be stress-inducing. There is a plethora of mindfulness information — websites, books, magazines, and even apps — like over 2,000 apps alone! But an experienced team can narrow the field to excellent resources and tools that can help you become well-versed and well-practiced in no time. However, in the meantime, here are some simple tips to get you started:

  1. Connect by disconnecting from distractions.
    • Turn off pop-up notifications, alerts and push notifications.
    • Answer email during dedicated periods of time, rather than constantly throughout the day.
    • Focus on finishing one task before you begin the next.
  1. STOP1, quite literally. It’s an easy centering exercise.

Stop. Just take a momentary pause, no matter what you’re doing.

Take a deep breath and exhale slowly. Feel the sensation of your own breathing.

Observe. Nonjudgmentally note what’s happening, good or bad, inside or outside of you.

Proceed. Having briefly checked into the present moment, continue with what you were doing.

  1. Cultivate a more mindful meeting environment.
    • Shut off phones and laptops in meetings whenever possible.
    • Allow everyone the opportunity to speak uninterrupted.
    • Focus on listening, whether in a meeting or a one-on-one discussion.
    • Adopt a “curious” listening stance — there’s always something you can learn.
    • Seek first to understand by approaching any conversation with an open mind.
  1. Practice Mindful Actions at Work and Home
    • Take deep, purposeful breaths.
    • Take walking breaks – even a lap around the office — inside or out.
    • Sit outdoors for a few minutes, whatever the weather.
    • Accept what you can’t change.
    • Adopt an attitude of gratitude.
    • Cultivate a growth mindset – you have a choice, take action.
    • Exercise — any type of movement counts.
    • Enjoy a hobby, especially one where you focus on one thing.

We Can Help You Be More Mindful.

Mindfulness reduces stress and anxiety, improves performance and productivity, and builds healthier, more positive relationships. And at Suntiva, we have behavioral science experts and proven tools and resources to help integrate the practice into daily life, through leadership coaching or team training. You really can become better able to manage stress and become more resilient — if you put your mind to it!

The STOP Practice (Stop, Take a breath, Observe, Proceed),  The Now Effect, Dr. Elisha Goldstein., 2012

Written by  Karla Finger, Taylor Conway and Tonya Botto