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Balancing Act: Working with ‘Mindfulness’ Reduces Stress in the Workplace

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By Cindy Krischer Goodman

Kelley McCabe Ruff runs eMindful, a Vero Beach, Fla., company that puts on virtual workshops for businesses, including Aetna. Myriad timely factors are bringing attention to mindfulness, she said, including high, job-related stress levels, an increasing corporate interest in wellness, an explosion of research on the neuroscience behind the technique, more data on its effectiveness, and more buy-in from corporate leaders. She has been able to tie mindfulness programs to results, showing that these tools support behavioral change that leads to physical changes, such as reduced cortisol levels and lower blood pressure. “We actually supply employers a return-on-investment calculation.”

Life coach Judy Martin, founder of Work Life Nation, says she now includes mindfulness in her consultancy toolkit. “It makes sense that we’re seeing more interest in mindfulness. If workers are worried about past projects that weren’t stellar or a future deadline creeping up, how can they be creative and focused on the work at hand?”

Martin said she teaches her clients that even lunchtime can provide mindfulness moments: mindfully eating a meal, noticing the scent of your food, the colors and texture of the food in your mouth. She also recommends talking a walk outside and being aware of the weather, the trees, the colors of the flowers, the warm sun.

At the University of Miami, associate psychology professor Amishi Jha has delved into brain research on the link between mindfulness, productivity and health. She says the science behind mindfulness training shows it can build resilience and enhance memory and concentration. “Just as physical exercise is critical for our body’s health, mental exercises, such as mindfulness training, are necessary for our psychological and brain health.”

One profession where mindfulness has gained particular traction is law. University of Miami professor Scott Rogers pioneered a Mindfulness in Law course, introducing more than 700 students to the technique during the past five years. He isn’t alone; at least 50 faculty members at 25 law schools have introduced mindfulness to law students. Now, he said, mindfulness workshops are offered at law firms and at judicial and legal conferences.

Lawyers like Singerman, who apply mindfulness in the legal setting, are able to gain more control during heated disputes, Rogers said. “They are more clear about what’s taking place so they can be more effective in those moments,” he explained.

Cindy Krischer Goodman is CEO of BalanceGal LLC, a provider of news and advice on how to balance work and life.

©2014 The Miami Herald
Distributed by MCT Information Services.

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