World Suicide Prevention Day is on September 10, this year. It should be an important day in everyone’s calendar since the incident of suicide in the UK remains far too high.
The most recent figures from the Office of National Statistics, for instance, show 10.7 suicide deaths registered per 100,000 people in England between July to Sept 2020. That’s equivalent to 1,334 people taking their own lives.
What is mindfulness?
One activity that has been shown to help with depressive symptoms is ‘mindfulness.’ In a nutshell, this is about paying attention to the present moment. That means no worrying about the future, being embarrassed about the past, or even dreaming about your loved one.
In other words, it’s a form of meditation (which itself has been proven to lower blood pressure and reduce stress if practiced correctly). It can also bring happiness, as author of the book 10% Happier, Dan Harris points out:
@danbharris: “Science is showing us that happiness isn’t luck; it’s actually a skill you can take responsibility for. You can work on mental qualities like focus, mindfulness, the ability to be awake in the present moment, warmth, gratitude—all the mental states we all want are skills, not factory settings that are unalterable.”
Contrary to what some people believe, the aim of mindfulness isn’t to stop thinking or clear your head of all thoughts. Instead, it’s about paying close attention to the present moment. That includes physical sensations, thoughts, and emotions so that you can feel and see them more intently.
As a result, mindfulness is also about being non-judgmental and accepting what you can’t change. And, because of this, it can be particularly effective at work. This is especially the case when you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed with all the tasks you have on or your boss has asked you to do something you would have done another way.
Big forward-thinking companies such as Google, Goldman Sachs, and Intel embrace the practice of mindfulness, offering courses for their staff.
How to ‘do’ mindfulness at work
- Walk outside at lunchtime. Get out in the fresh air to help clear your mind and boost your endorphins (happy hormones) by walking. Make sure you walk slowly though, and focus on your steps and sensations.
- Focus on one job at a time. Constantly switching between tasks causes us to lose our focus and as a result, the quality of our work suffers. Zoom in on the one activity and make a conscious effort not to check social media, your email, etc.
- Turn off distractions. One way to help with the above focus on one task is to switch off pop-up notifications and set aside a specific time to answer emails, rather than when one pops into your inbox.
- Leave your phone behind. When you go to a meeting with colleagues, always leave your phone behind on the desk. It’s too distracting to keep checking it now and again.
- Leave work behind. Don’t check work emails at home. Instead, focus more on family and friends. It’ll make both you and them happier to have your undivided attention.