1 Habit That Can Completely Change Your Workday

A little mindfulness benefits your coworkers, too.

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Photo by  Plamen Petkov

Americans are more stressed than ever. It seems that as budgets become tighter, to-do lists become longer and it’s harder to get through the day without feeling overstretched. But there might be an easy way to relieve some of the pressures of your 9 to 5: simply taking a pause and being mindful.

According to a new study published in the Journal of Management, working in an office that incorporates mindfulness training, such as Google, Aetna, Mayo Clinic, or the United States Marine Corps, improves focus and teamwork and lessens stress.

Case Western Reserve University researchers from many different fields, such as management, mindfulness, general psychology, and neuroscience, looked at 4,000 scientific papers on mindfulness and its effect on people’s minds, emotions, actions, relationships, and performance at work. In total, they only found two papers that reported any negative effects of mindfulness.

Though mindfulness—“present-centered attention and awareness,” according to the study—is an individual habit, the research shows that its benefits on interpersonal skills create a better working environment for all. Those who practiced mindfulness had greater consciousness throughout the day, which lessened the effects of stress related to decision-making. It also created greater empathy and compassion, which improved coworker relationships. Mindful workers also had improved stability, control, and efficiency in their tasks, and had increased attention spans during visual and listening tests compared to those who didn’t practice.

Do you feel like the only mindful worker in your office? Here are some ways to manage your stress. Or, maybe you want to bring the benefits of a mindful workplace home? Here, some sound advice on how to help your kids turn off the external noise.