Did you know that meditation is the fastest growing health trend in the country? It’s meteoric rise is partially due to modern technology (plus notable celebrities touting its benefits), which has given us easily accessible meditation in the form of apps and videos. And since meditation’s myriad of benefits include alleviating stress and anxiety at work, we’ve teamed up with Simple Habit, the award-winning app for daily stress relief, to gather some data on meditation’s popularity and ability to improve productivity.
Let’s face it — workplace stress has risen about 20% over the last 30 years, so we need some way to successfully manage it now more than ever. And we know that people who are stressed and upset just aren’t going to reach their max levels of productivity, which is detrimental to their personal productivity and that of their larger team. Negative emotions and stress also lead to disengagement and actual absence from work — both of which are productivity crushers. Forbes also reported that highly stressed employees reported being “unwell and unproductive” an average of 16 days per year, as opposed to employees with lower stress, who only clock in 10 of those days a year.
This is where meditation comes into play. Meditation, broadly speaking, is a mindfulness practice centered around breath, focus and attention. Within that definition, there are a wide variety of types that range from mindfulness meditation to yoga meditation and chakra meditation. But two of the most popular variations? Mindfulness and transcendental meditation. Mindfulness meditation is rooted in focusing the mind on current experiences, like emotions, thoughts or physical sensations, instead of thinking about the future or past. Transcendental, on the other hand, is meditation centered around repetition of a mantra.
Mindfulness meditation is one of the easier meditations to take on-the-go, and is the type that Simple Habit focuses on — and they’ve got some pretty convincing data to support it. Simple Habit has reported that benefits of mindfulness meditation included an increase in subjective well-being, alleviation of depression and anxiety, decreased emotional reactivity, and an increased ability to regulate our behaviors. But how does this all work? It all boils down to changes of function in the brain — it actually reduces activity in the amygdala, which regulates emotional reactivity, and increases activity in the part of the brain that aids with positive emotions and attention.
Increased attention and reduction of reactivity are beneficial in all aspects of life, but sound especially appealing when it comes to work productivity. Since focus is key during work, and is what helps us dig in and get work done, being able to tap into mindfulness meditation as a way to increase it is a powerful tool. Who wouldn’t want to get 6 hours of work done in 3 or 4? Simple Habit also reports that just one session of 10-minute meditation can also help improve problem-solving, and helps regulate emotions, both of which are key in an office environment.
There are also a massive number of uber-successful business people that credit part of their success to meditation. People like Marc Benioff, the co-founder of Salesforce, Oprah, Steve Jobs, and Ariana Huffington all meditate, and many of them claim it enables better decision making and decreases stress. Companies themselves are even starting to recognize the benefits of meditation in the office — brands like Unilever and Nike have meditation and yoga rooms on-campus. People are actually predicting that the idea of “recharge rooms” as the next big office trend.
While we all dream of an on-site recharge room or in-office yoga studio, a lot of companies don’t have the space or resources to create these quiet spaces. That’s where apps like Simple Habit come in. Simple Habit offers bitesize meditations you can use at any point of your day, including meditations for Commuting, Before A Meeting, and Unwinding After Work. And taking five minutes at your desk to relax and channel your inner Gwyneth Paltrow could totally change the trajectory of your day or week. If five minutes has the potential to super-charge productivity, why not try it out?
If you’ve experimented with meditation, or you’re an experienced meditator, we’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below. If you’re interested in trying Simple Habit yourself, you can download Simple Habit for free on iOS or Android or visit www.simplehabit.com to learn more.