As part of our wellbeing campaign, Management in Practice caught up with Dr Megan Jones Bell, chief science officer at the meditation app Headspace. Her work focusses on making mental healthcare more effective and changing cultural and societal perceptions of mental health and wellness.
She spoke to us about the importance of keeping stress levels to a minimum in order to maintain a healthy workplace environment: ‘GP practices are stressful and fast-paced,’ she acknowledges.
‘Environments and providing support to employees is essential. Mindfulness and meditation can be a great tool to help you and your team members cope with stress and anxiety on a day to day basis.’
With this is mind, Dr Jones Bell offers practice managers some useful tips on how to interweave meditation into your daily routine to positively impact your work life
1. Schedule a mindfulness session each day
‘Setting aside five to ten minutes each day to meditate can help keep you remain in a calm and present mindset,’ Dr Jones Bell says.
‘We find that people who meditate in the morning or integrate it into a consistent routine at the same time in the same place are most likely to maintain their practice over time. You can start as small as one minute and ideally build up to at least ten minutes. This will help you stay in the present moment, which can help when you are dealing with worried thoughts about the future.
‘Meditation also helps us cultivate self-compassion, which lets us more easily accept where we are and maintain our motivation.’
2. No more lunch at your desk
In order to maintain peak productivity throughout the day, Dr Jones Bell suggests eating a healthy lunch away from your desk and in a new environment: ‘Disconnect from work by having a break from your inbox and take the time to be mindful about what you’re eating, chewing your food properly and savouring flavours,’ she says.
‘So often, we eat on autopilot in front of screens – both at home and at work,’ she explains. ‘Practicing mindful eating allows us to remove distractions, be more aware of what you’re eating, and connect with colleagues around the table.’
3. Get out of the office and take a stroll
‘Sometimes the hectic work environment is enough to throw you off balance,’ says Dr Jones Bell.
She explains how anxiety and stress can be triggered by noise and a sense of cabin fever. ‘If you’re feeling overwhelmed,’ she says, ‘switch out the grey office décor with some outdoor green and take in your surroundings while enjoying the fresh air.’
‘Meditating while walking, with the eyes open and attention focused on the environment around us, is a great way to re-centre the mind.
‘Rather than focusing on breathing – as in normal meditation – be aware of the rhythm of your steps, take note of how your body feels, and notice what’s around you: the sights, sounds and smells of your environment.’
4. Multi-tasking is not your friend
As a practice manager, you’re often simultaneously juggling a number of different jobs – an often draining and near enough impossible task.
Dr Jones Bell urges PMs not to take on more than one job at one time: ‘Working on more than one task will leave you feeling like the finish line is nowhere in sight’.
To mitigate the temptation not to be pulled in different directions, Dr Jones Bell suggests a mindfulness technique known as Noting.
‘Noting is realising the moment you‘re distracted by something and creating a bit of space while gaining clarity of what your main priorities are,’ she explains. ‘It is being aware that distractions are imminent, so we are able to pull ourselves away more regularly.’
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