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Remote work, once seen as the panacea following a stressful pandemic year, is no longer cutting it, at least according to health professionals. Currently, one in four remote workers report experiencing depression because they telecommute, and 42% of them say they feel burnt out frequently. Many say that they are losing sleep owing to work-related issues, and some are battling high levels of unresolved stress. Mindfulness, once the exclusive realm of new-age enthusiasts, is now being embraced by mental health professionals as a powerful tool in the remote work era.

Scientific studies show that the most significant struggles linked to working from home are the blurred lines between work and personal life. When you don’t simply clock in and out of your office every day, it can be easy to keep working beyond your paid hours and to lose the spark that keeps you productive and focused. Mindfulness involves being aware of and paying attention to what is happening in the present moment (your thoughts, emotions, and sensations) without judgment. It allows you to be more objective, as it allows you to separate your identity from your thoughts and emotions, and simply observe them. One study (Toniolo-Barrios and Pitt 2021), published in the journal Business Horizons, found that mindfulness can help remote workers in three ways: by allowing them to disconnect from work, by improving their attention to work tasks and enhancing their performance, and by allowing them to recover better from Zoom or screen fatigue.

Mindfulness is not just a state that arises or is pursued. It is inexorably linked to one’s environment and to sensory input such as sounds, lighting, and texture. Creating a mindful working space involves a myriad of strategies, including noise reduction. Some companies offer stipends for workers who have moved from in-office to at-home work, but calls should be made for stipends to cover more than furniture and technological equipment. For workers living in noisy urban areas, soundproofing with the use of acoustic panels and acoustic blankets can work wonders. So, too, can features such as plants, natural materials, and the sound of water—all of which have been proven in various studies to help boost present-moment awareness. Finally, the layout of your home office can help reduce stress and anxiety. Minimalistic, simple, and well-organized spaces can boost productivity and calmness. Home-based workers can consider investing in storage furniture so that all their items are easily accessible and always easy to find. Working in natural sunlight has also been found to help people work more productively.

Employees working from home can do plenty to boost their mindfulness by embracing specific activities, including mindfulness meditation, breathwork, Tai Chi, and yoga—all of which have been found in numerous studies to lower levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, and induce a more mindful state. Toniolo-Barrios and Pitt suggest that remote workers embrace three approaches daily. The first involves a mindful check-in every hour. This can be achieved by analyzing one’s thoughts and emotions and accepting them without judgment. The second involves engaging in three-minute breathwork sessions at various times during the workday. One simple method is box breathing, which is excellent for quelling stress and anxiety. It involves exhaling to a count of four, holding the lungs empty to a count of four, inhaling to a count of four, holding air in the lungs for a count of four, and repeating the whole cycle various times. Finally, employees can engage in a longer meditation session during their lunch break. Employees can also commit to visiting green areas for at least 10 minutes every day. Studies have shown that this short amount of time can do plenty to reduce stress levels and bring about a state of mindfulness.

Mindfulness is a powerful tool in remote workers’ fight against excess stress. Studies have shown that it lowers stress hormone levels, improves mode, and enhances productivity. Mindfulness at home can be achieved by investing in optimal design and embracing mindfulness pursuits throughout the day. Getting a bit of green time every day can also help people reconnect with themselves and accept their thoughts and emotions with no holds barred.

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