In today’s society, people are constantly on the go. Students juggle a full class schedule, extra-curricular clubs and activities, and a social life. As adult professionals, similar undertakings are balanced while maintaining greater life responsibility.
As women, we are known to be great at multitasking. It is assumed we are able to handle multiple things at once and have the ability to move back and forth from one task to the next. According to Harvard Business Review, “a study by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found that there are more neural connections between the left and right side of women’s brains than men's.”
Although the skill of multitasking may be easier and more natural for women, this doesn’t mean it is beneficial to work and live in this state of a clustered mindset. Multitasking can lead people to complete tasks in a careless way, as well as feel more overall disorganization in life. Multitasking can lead to an increase in the stress hormone cortisol in the body, causing people to feel more negative emotions and become more stressed overall. In order to create a less stressful environment, long term solutions need to come into play.
Although reducing the amount of tasks someone has to complete each day or week can be helpful in the short-term, it is not necessarily sustainable in the long term, nor is it possible for many women. Mindfulness is not only a solution, but a skill that can help one reduce their levels of anxiety and feel more level-headed throughout their days.
According to the American Psychology Association, “the term ‘mindfulness’ has been used to refer to a psychological state of awareness, the practices that promote this awareness, a mode of processing information and a character trait.” It is also stated by the APA that mindfulness can be cultivated through activities like yoga, tai chi, but also through meditation and focusing on bringing awareness to our thoughts and feelings.
In order to practice mindfulness, one can begin by trying to meditate. It may feel strange at first, but sitting down and focusing on the thoughts and feelings that are present in a moment can be the best way to begin this practice. During this process of practicing, especially during the initial stages, there will be intrusive thoughts and minds will wander. These are all expected steps of the process, and according to mindful.org, “mindfulness is a practice of returning, again and again, to the breath. We use the sensation of breath as an anchor to the present moment.”
As with any adjustment to habits in life, it takes time to secure one's ability to meditate and become mindful. To become more present on the day-to-day, it’s imperative for someone to be less judgmental of the thoughts she has and allow herself to come back into the present time. These efforts of becoming more mindful have been proven to be successful. According to a study cited by the American Psychology Association, “researchers found that the participants who experienced mindfulness-based stress reduction had significantly less anxiety, depression, and somatic distress compared with the control group.”
In conclusion, today’s society expects people to handle many tasks at once, and have the ability to handle high levels of stress, especially in professional situations. Multitasking is a skill that comes more naturally to women due to our brains being wired differently than men’s, but is something that can lead to higher stress and disorganization in one’s life. In order to find a long term solution to become less anxious, depressed, and stressed, one should practice mindfulness. Meditation is the best way to work on mindfulness and has been proven to reduce levels of anxiety and stress in one’s body.