4 Ways Mindfulness Can Get You Ahead At Work, According To Science
Singaporeans are overworked and overstressed, and we know it. Recent surveys published earlier this year by various companies have reported, among other things, that 92% of Singaporean employees are stressed out, 3 in 10 don’t know how to relax, and that Singapore is the second-most overworked city in the world. Perhaps most alarmingly, though, is the fact that Singapore has one of the highest rates of employee burnout globally.
Clearly, something has to be done about it. Changing the Singaporean workaholic culture, though, is much easier said than done, requiring both top-down and bottom-up efforts. Mindfulness, on the other hand, offers a much more practical and viable alternative to help employees maintain healthy levels of holistic well-being.
Incorporating a daily mindfulness practice in your routine, however, will do more for you than just help you to de-stress; science has shown that it can actually help you get ahead at work in a lot of different ways. Here’s how.
1. It keeps your stress levels down
Most people probably start getting into mindfulness as a means of stress-reduction, and for good reason. Multiple studies have shown that mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) programs are highly effective in lowering employee stress levels. In other words, when practiced regularly and consistently, mindfulness provides an excellent source of stress relief.
It’s not just stress levels that decrease from regular mindfulness practice, though. Studies have also shown that employees’ mental and emotional health greatly benefit from practicing regular mindfulness; it reduces emotional exhaustion, helping to prevent job burnout, alleviates psychological distress, and even relieves anxiety.
2. It facilitates greater emotional intelligence
Empathy is the name of game when it comes to effective, inspirational leadership; the best leaders are those who don’t just manage their people, but understand what drives them, where their strengths and weakness lie, and how to bring out the best in each employee. Such emotionally intelligent leaders, however, are often few and far between.
This is where mindfulness can make a surprising positive difference. Essentially, practicing mindfulness helps us to make a daily routine of checking in with ourselves. For example, regardless of what type of meditation one might engage in, taking the time to be mindful every day helps you to tune in to yourself, your thoughts, and your emotions. In this way, it sharpens our self-awareness, which Daniel Goleman calls the “building block” of emotional intelligence.
Before we can empathise with others and understand what makes other people tick, we need to understand ourselves first; mindfulness provides a great platform for this. Consequently, the more in tune you are with your own emotions, the better you are at regulating and controlling them, and at sensing and understanding others’ emotions as well.
3. It improves your capacity to concentrate
In a world where knowledge work has become as commonplace as it has today, the ability to get high volumes of work done in short amounts of time is highly prized, and rightfully so. Maximising your ability to concentrate and work in total distraction-free mode is crucial in this regard. Most of us, though, find ourselves getting easily distracted throughout the day, thus getting less done than we’d want to on a daily basis.
Practicing mindfulness regularly, though, can give your focusing abilities a much-needed boost. Research has shown that even spending 10 minutes a day can make a big difference to our focus and concentration. There’s even data to suggest that it can improve your working memory and help your brain use cognitive resources more efficiently when it comes to sorting through, categorising, and storing information.
4. It gives you greater mental clarity
Considering the amount of information we’re bombarded with every day from the minute we wake up to the minute we go to bed at the end of the day, it’s no surprise that our thoughts can get really muddled up.
When it comes to having goals and (more importantly) holding ourselves accountable to these goals, in particular, this lack of mental clarity can be hugely detrimental; a muddled brain often operates based on immediate stimulation, thus relegating overarching aims and goals to the back of your mind.
When you start practicing mindfulness regularly, though, you naturally get better at slowing down in order to stabilise your mental and emotional states. This, in turn, makes it much easier to sort through the gamut of information that your senses takes in on a daily basis, differentiating between important information and what you can ignore, thus helping you to achieve greater mental clarity.