Sharper focus is just a breath away
In an effort to make workers happy and more productive, some bosses offer more paid time off, discounted gym memberships – even mini massage sessions in the office. But one Advocate Trinity Hospital pain specialist suggests a couple minutes of meditation could be the key to jump starting workers’ motivation.
She says people just need to take a breath to get more work done.
“If an employee practices being in the moment and focusing on the project at hand, he will be more energetic and creative, and the job will become easy, joyful and he will be more productive,’’ says Dr. Suneela Harsoor, a board-certified pain specialist who once worked as an anesthesiologist at a cancer institute.
Sometimes feeling helpless to assist patients manage chronic pain, Dr. Harsoor says she turned to mind and body medicine a few years ago. Today, she finds her work rewarding as she uses meditating techniques such as deep breathing to help patients refocus and find their place of Zen.
Harsoor uses her practice for her own personal growth, as well and to help family and friends improve their quality of life through reduced stress. Unaddressed, stress can cause feelings of anxiety, restlessness, lack of motivation – even sadness or depression.
Studies show deliberate breathing helps shrink the amygdala, the part of the brain most impacted by stress, and helps relax the body by:
- Regulating breathing
- Lowering blood pressure
- Stabilizing brain chemicals that create anxiety
In addition, meditators see a change in their outlook and output within just a few minutes of practice, Harsoor says. “The prefrontal cortex — associated with higher order brain functions such as awareness, concentration and decision-making — becomes thicker with mindfulness.”
In the workplace, where stressed workers are more likely to feel overwhelmed and make mistakes, employees who meditate are more relaxed and focused, which translates to better productivity.
As for the time it entails, Harsoor says employees only need about 15 minutes, and bosses will get that time back in multiple ways.
“Not only are employees more efficient and happy at work, but it is contagious – spreading good vibrations to coworkers, promoting team work and resulting in better customer and job satisfaction. If we can have a coffee maker at work to help workers wake up and perform, why not get a meditation break?”
About the Author
health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.