A mindfulness practice can help you increase your efficiency – but how? Let’s dive into it.
Stressors in everyday life and their consequences
In the globalised world of the 21st century, our everyday life consists largely of extremely fast-moving processes. A vast number of external influences have a lasting effect on us. Stressors determine our actions and become a spiral which tirelessly determines our actions. We rush at work, in our leisure time and even when we’re on holiday! … it has to be done more and more. Almost everywhere there is the pressure to perform. We find it increasingly difficult to pause, and of course, we suffer from the consequences of this situation.
The decisive component in the effect of stress is the subjective classification of stressors. This determines whether the stressor has a performance-enhancing or performance-inhibiting effect (Lazarus & Launier, 1981). This means that stress is not necessarily a synonym for damage.
A person’s performance is determined to a large extent by how he or she deals with stress. Stress is one of many emotions which we evaluate subjectively. Those emotions support our goals and the implementation of the necessary mechanisms needed to get closer to these goals. They can also sabotage our goals and inhibit us in the implementation of necessary actions to achieve these goals. According to Hardy and Parfitt (1993), for example, fear can have a certain effect on a person’s performance, both physically and psychologically.
Perception is to blame
“Don’t stress yourself so much”, “Just grit your teeth, better times will come” – we all know these phrases of encouragement. Of course, avoiding stress is one of the best solutions to deal with it, but sadly, that’s not always possible. Stress has become a part of our self, and no workshop for stress management will solve this problem.
Alfermann and Stoll (2010) do not see stress as the result of an objectively measurable stressor, but as the negative attitude of consciousness towards this event. A study by Wall et al. from 2015 shows what effect our perception has on performance: they investigated the consequences of thirst on physiological performance. They found that it is not the physiological consequences of thirst that influence performance but rather, up to a certain extent, only the emotion of thirst has a performance-reducing effect. This means that the condition is not the reason, but the perception of the condition is.
I’ve tried, it doesn’t work
Perceived self-control usually determines whether we can devote enough resources to maintain beneficial behavior. Increased self-control improves the person’s relationship to health-promoting behavior (Junger & van Kampen, 2010). Especially after previous stress, a cognitive fatigue state develops, which negatively influences our motivation and volition. The psyche behaves like a muscle that can get tired from stressful tasks and sabotage our planned actions (Hofmann, Schmeichel & Baddeley, 2012).
Stocker, Englert and Seiler (2018) fond in their work that this process of self-fatigue can be reduced by mindfulness training. This correlates with an improvement in physical and mental performance. Motivation increases and one’s own resources are improved in the face of stressors.
What effect does mindfulness training have?
In order to be able to use the influence of the emotions in a positive way, the topic of mindfulness is increasingly coming to the fore in research. Mindfulness is discussed as a way of directing attention. It helps to experience a moment without judgment and positively influences the well-being and the effect of stressors (Brown, Ryan, & Creswell, 2007). Mindfulness tries to direct attention to the present moment and to face situational sensations without judgment.
A health program that tries to counteract stress with mindfulness has medium to large effect strengths with regard to the effect. A meta-analysis indicates that both physical and mental health and performance benefit from this intervention, as does subjective well-being through improved stress management (Auty, Cope, & Liebling, 2017).
What potential does a more mindful society have?
The effects of mindfulness interventions will continue to gain interest in research in the upcoming years, as positive effects show on the psychological as well as on the physical level and people become more efficient when they participate.
Concepts that help us be more efficient are becoming more and more important for our society. We want to be be more efficient, more conscious, more balanced, less stressful and happier – so it is an opportunity with immense potential. The goal of being more efficient and happier characterizes our motivation to continue to form a more mindful society.
Sounds great, now how do I start?
Important for the entry into mindfulness is the right support on your path. At the beginning, everyone can take the first steps towards a more mindful future through various media. On channels like Youtube, helpful introductory videos for mindfulness and meditation can be found. Click here for our Beginner meditation on Youtube.
If there is long-term interest in this field, it is useful to work with a qualified teacher. It is important to pay attention to the scientific basis and to work only with reliable and sound methods to ensure that they are optimally supported. Especially because a teacher can recognize your needs through experience and is available to answer your questions. This is an important factor in achieving long-term progress and maintaining the motivation to participate (Birtwell, Williams, Van Marwijk, Armitage, & Sheffield, 2019).
Mindfulness demonstrably helps:
- To deal better with emotions
- Implement health-promoting behavior
- To perceive and accept stressors and possibly change subjective attitudes with the aim of becoming happier and better
Find out more about the positive effects of mindfulness here!