How to Leverage Mindfulness in Your Career

We live in a constantly on the go society. For better or for worse, this mentality often carries over to how we approach tasks in the workplace. Three memos, five meetings and a working lunch with your boss all in one day? No problem. Taking a moment to breath and re-center yourself before you dive into your next task? No way.

That moment of pause and awareness that many people don’t seem to have time for is called mindfulness. And as it turns out, practicing it often can help you become a better employee and leader. Cheryl Jones, Aetna’s Director of Mindfulness explained how at the Next Generation of Government Training Summit.

Jones defined mindfulness as paying attention or noting whatever is happening in the moment with a gentle and open mind, as well as awareness of breathing, thoughts, feelings and surroundings. “Mindfulness is not a ‘woo’ thing, rather it is innate in all of us and we are all capable of cultivating awareness and bringing our attention to the present moment,” she said. In order to do this, you have to be willing to pause and stop and be with yourself without judgement.

Life and work are stressful and at the end of the day there’s not much we can do to stop stressors from popping up. However, through mindfulness you can manage how you handle stressors and build resilience to learn how to deal with them. “Mindfulness is useful to manage stress because when we see our minds going down a path of stress we can breathe, be in the moment, and clear our minds to solve the problem and address the stressor,” Jones explained.

This is especially important to practice at the workplace. “Practicing mindfulness can allow us to de-stress and be present in our current relationships at work instead of simply zoning out,” Jones said. “This allows us to build better relationships and work more effectively.”

Another benefit of mindfulness is that it can help you build your emotional intelligence, which is necessary for leaders to lead and connect with their employees. Practicing mindfulness allows you to better connect with your own self and feelings so you can be more in tune with others.

So, are you ready to start implementing mindfulness at your agency? Jones recommended four steps:

  1. Build a foundation and develop a mindfulness practice.
  2. Develop a presence and determine how you want to be intentional about your presence.
  3. Learn to trust yourself and others.
  4. Foster connections with your coworkers and employees and build strong, compassionate relationships.

When you walk into the office tomorrow morning, take a breath and be in the moment. For more mindfulness tips, check out Aetna’s site.

This blog post is a recap of a session that took place at the recent Next Generation of Government Summit. Want to see more great insights that came out of NextGen? Head here.

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