I Love Me: Women In The Workplace Can Employ Mindfulness This Valentine’s Day

Mindfulness in the workplace can augment self-care for working women.

Mindfulness in the workplace can augment self-care for working women.

It’s not selfish, narcissistic, spoiled or just trendy. It’s healthy.Women in the workplace can use and benefit from mindfulness practices and self-care perhaps more than men, research finds. That may have to do with the propensity for working women—and working mothers especially— to multitask most every hour of the day.[bctt tweet=“Research finds women in the workplace benefit from mindfulness perhaps more than men #womenleaders” username=“takeleadwomen”]“According to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the psychologist who created the concept of flow, men typically do one and a half things at a time, but women, especially mothers, do closer to five. A study at Michigan State University found that women multitask 10 hours more per week than men and that engaging in multitasking activities increases stress, negative emotions, and perceived work-life conflict. This may be one reason women experience more stress than men even when their workloads are similar,” writes Beth Cabrera. in Harvard Business Review.“You can practice being mindful when you’re walking, driving, or having a conversation. When your mind starts to wander, gently refocus your attention. When you’re in a meeting, pay attention to what’s being said. When you’re with your children, be with your children. When you’re cooking dinner, focus on cooking. Whatever you do, do it fully,” writes Cabrera, author of Beyond Happy: Women, Work, and Well-Being, and a senior scholar at George Mason University’s Center for the Advancement of Well-Being.At an all-day women’s conference at Rocky Mountain College in Montana, Dr. Janet Dietrich said that “self-care starts with “paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment without judgment as open-heartedly as possible,” she told the Billings Gazette.Dietrich added, “It’s training your mind to stay present to the present moment and not let it be hijacked. If you’re not in the present moment, where are you? In the past and future.”Inger Burnett-Zeigler, Northwestern University clinical psychologist and assistant professor at Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, writes in the Los Angeles Review of Books, “Mindfulness courses are available to patients in hundreds of medical centers and community clinics around the world, to healthcare professionals to help reduce burnout, to employees at large major corporations and as a part of executive leadership training programs.”She adds, “The iOS 10 health app allows anyone to track how many minutes per day you have spent being mindful. There are more than 60 other mindfulness and meditation apps in iTunes. San Francisco, Dallas, and Raleigh-Durham airports offer meditation and yoga rooms. Or, you can purchase one of the very popular adult Mindfulness Coloring Books to help you meditate through art.”The popularity of mindfulness as a practice to relieve anxiety, depression and other concerns is backed up by research on the positive outcomes for those who practice mindfulness. [bctt tweet=“Mindfulness helps with focus, clarity, and productivity #womenintheworkplace” username=“takeleadwomen”]“There is accumulating research to suggest myriad benefits of being mindful. Mindfulness is associated with improvements in psychological outcomes such as reduced stress, depression and anxiety, physical outcomes such as reduced chronic pain, less frequent headaches and improved sleep, functional outcomes including attention and concentration and increased well-being,” Burnett-Zeigler writes.“Researchers at the Hult International Business School recently published in the Harvard Business Review their study of 57 senior business leaders who participated in a mindful leader program. Researchers found that mindfulness training and regular practice resulted in statistically significant improvements in important leadership capacities including resilience, the capacity for collaboration, and the ability to lead in complex conditions,” according to Burnett-Zeigler.Jeena Cho, a bankruptcy lawyer, is also the author of The Anxious Lawyer: An 8-Week Guide to a Joyful and Satisfying Law Practice Through Mindfulness and Meditation. In a recent podcast with the American Bar Association Journal, Cho endorsed mindfulness as a practice for all women in the workplace and for women lawyers in particular.Cho advises women lawyers, and any women in the workplace to consider being kinder to herself, especially in the face of a recent professional setback, loss or failure.“I think what happens, and this was certainly true for me, is I lose a motion, and it may be because of an error on my part, or an oversight, or something where I could have done things differently, or better. Or, it could just be that the facts weren’t on my side, or the law wasn’t on my side, or the judge going to root for the other party,” Cho tells Stephanie Francis Ward of the ABA Journal.“And how do we interpret that, right? Because if we interpret that as ‘I’m a lousy lawyer,’ and play that narrative in our minds, then our minds will constantly go down that path over and over again, like a self-fulfilling prophecy.”Instead, Cho says, switch the script. “So, really just saying to yourself, ‘I did the best I could under that circumstances, and maybe the outcome isn’t what I was hoping for, but now, I can either waste my precious mental energy and resources I’m thinking about something that happened in the past, or I can redirect all that energy towards working on what is in front of me right now, and doing the best that I can.’”Positive self-talk, mindfulness, all of this can make a difference in your attitude and your well-being as women in the workplace. And it can take only a few minutes a day to make a world of difference.Rasmus Hougaard  and Jacqueline Carter write in Harvard Business Review:  “When you get to the office, take 10 minutes at your desk or in your car to boost your brain with a short mindfulness practice before you dive into activity. Close your eyes, relax, and sit upright. Place your full focus on your breath. Simply maintain an ongoing flow of attention on the experience of your breathing: inhale, exhale; inhale; exhale. To help your focus stay on your breathing, count silently at each exhalation. Any time you find your mind distracted, simply release the distraction by returning your focus to your breath. Most important, allow yourself to enjoy these minutes. Throughout the rest of the day, other people and competing urgencies will fight for your attention. But for these 10 minutes, your attention is all your own.”