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How mindfulness can help you at work

This week, advice for staying healthy and happy in PR, comes Pally Kaur from Cherish PR and mindfulness coach Stuart Hillston

Agency view

Discussing the benefits of mindfulness, Cherish PR’s Pally Kaur says: “Everyone at Cherish has been practicing being more mindful at work, and it’s been a godsend. We are very much focused on improving our teams wellbeing at work, so I invited a mindfulness coach to come in and do several training sessions with the team to help them become more mindful at work and in life. You know what, it’s working astoundingly well. I can already see that the team are thinking more out of the box, they’re asking different, more intelligent questions, they are managing their time more efficiently and they’re bouncing ideas about left, right and centre.

“How I describe being mindful is that it’s breathing space for your mind, which allows you to become more present in the moment, rather than living your life through your minds past and future. With all that breathing space, your mind has the freedom to explore, and dance with creativity.  

"The team are thinking more out of the box, they’re asking different, more intelligent questions"

“Personally, I’ve been doing mindful activities for the past eight years and now I’ve been practicing meditation 20 minutes every morning and every evening for the last three months. Not only does this cushion my day so I can sleep peacefully without holding on to any worry or stress, it has also helped me become more mindful with my team, my clients, my friends and family.    

“I highly recommend this to anyone, especially to my fellow PROs. This has been one of the best investments we have made in terms of money and time.  So on that note, I thought rather than me writing more about mindfulness, I asked our mindfulness coach Stuart Hillston to write a few words on the science behind it to give you actual proof that this does really work.”   

Mindfulness coach view

Stuart Hillston, mindfulness coach, describes how mindfulness can help you at work: “In 2016 the Mindfulness All-Party Parliamentary Group published a report entitled Building the Case for Mindfulness in the Workplace. That such a group even exists is a surprise to many. In fact, there are several hundred members of parliament practicing mindfulness regularly, and promoting its use in schools, businesses and for individuals.

“So what is mindfulness? Mindfulness is a 2,500 year old Buddhist tradition and is currently an established medical practice. Mindfulness is not just about meditation. It is a way of living and working which reduces your stress, making your life more enjoyable and less stressful. It is secular (non-religious) and proven through scientific research to have positive impact on individuals and now there’s recent evidence that it’s even more effective in groups.

“The human brain is a remarkable thing. Contrary to popular belief it can grow, change, add and remove cells based on regular activity. This is the basis of neuroplasticity – the ability of the brain to change and adapt right through our lives.

"Stress is substantially about our conflict between that emotional reaction and the circumstances"

“At the centre of the brain are the elements that have been with us through human evolution. This is called the limbic system and sitting within that is the amygdala. Do you know that feeling when someone cuts in front of you in a shop, or your boss chews you out? That sudden flush of adrenalin, the increased pulse, the flash of anger? The impulse to act.

“Say ‘hello’ to your amygdala, controlling our emotions at their basic levels, the fight, flight or freeze response. In a flash you react, and sometimes regret it afterwards. Stress is substantially about our conflict between that emotional reaction and the circumstances. You may want to run away, or hit someone, but you don’t. You suppress the reaction which in turn affects the psychological and physiological effect on the mind and body which accumulates over time, so we’re more likely to react next time.

“If there was a way to choose how to respond rather than react, diminishing the impulsive response and reducing your stress, would you be interested?

“Mindfulness training, particularly for the ‘variant’ called MBCT (Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy), will reduce your stress, reduce your chances of recurring depression, make your life feel more manageable and make you a better workmate. If all the people in your team develop mindfulness skills, your productivity, effectiveness and satisfaction of working together will dramatically increase.

“Mindfulness will not make everyone like you – or you like everyone else. It will put you in control of your interactions with other people so you become more real and genuine. Not only will your work life improve, you will find that your personal relationships will improve too. Isn’t that something you should be thinking about, especially in an industry known for building strong relationships?”

Written by Pally Kaur, head of innovation at Cherish PR and Stuart Hillston, mindfulness coach

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