What Is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the practice of intentionally living in the present moment in a non-judgemental way.
This concept has been scientifically researched, and found to be crucial in the reduction of anxiety and stress, whilst increasing overall happiness.
Mindfulness is now widely accepted in the scientific world as being a ‘key influence in reducing stress and anxiety’, and works by helping people to accept their past experiences. This includes painful past emotions and trauma.
It is now common practice for Mindfulness & Mindful meditation to be integrated into other forms of therapy, such as hypnotherapy, psychotherapy, and CBT. This handy integration makes good sense, as both Mindfulness and therapies share the common aim of assisting people with their wellbeing, and helping them people gain perspective many issues. These issues can include irrational, maladaptive, and self-deprecating thoughts.
What Is Mindfulness In The Workplace?
When you become accustomed to what Mindfulness is and what it entails, you will create a better version of yourself!
Our emails ping, our phone rings, and we get called into a last minute meeting…. On top of all this, we have to abandon the vital report and paperwork that has been yelling for our attention.
At this point, most of us are adept at multi-tasking. We dart from one task to the next, whilst never fully completing anything. We live in a constant state of firefighting. Experience tells us that firefighting and multi-tasking does not work as nothing has our constant focus and attention. This is where Mindful techniques come into play.
Mindful people become aware of how their mind works. Despite their heavy work load, they learn to focus on one task at a time, to live in a non-judgemental way, and have a greater awareness of the world around them.
How Should You Practice Mindfulness?
Many people begin to practice Mindfulness simply by meditating for a few minute every day. Generally, they will start with relaxing, deep breathing exercises, whilst focusing on one thing only. The ‘thing’ can be a physical object, such as ring or ornament. Alternatively, it can be something imaginary, such as a beach or flower. It can be anything that allows you to focus.
The key to Mindfulness is to practice focusing on just one thing. Undoubtedly, your mind will wander when you first begin, and when it does you will simply bring your attention back to your chosen object.
When you practice Mindfulness on a daily basis, you will connect to everything around you. You will willingly spend longer each day on meditation and focus. Gratitude and empathy are also other aspects of Mindfulness. By being grateful for everything you have, and understanding why others behave the way they do, you can gain some clarity and peace in your own mind.
Why Is Mindfulness In The Workplace Important?
Mindfulness in the workplace is becoming more important than ever. We live in a hectic, digital era where everybody demands your attention at the same time. Mental health issues are at an all time high, as we seek to live a more peaceful existence. It is our mind and brain that suffers in all of this.
When employees are unable to focus, there is an impact on productivity. This then impacts the employees and others around – when deadlines aren’t met and jobs not completed, the end result is that the customer becomes angered. This anger is directed back at the employees. It is a vicious circle we create. All of a sudden, negative emotions begin to influence decision making.
Mindfulness in the workplace allows employees to release past thoughts and focus on the present. An employee who has this ability can hold a focused meeting in the present, without being distracted by urgent pending work or the disastrous meeting from last week.
Performance reviews are held in a calm manner, as any criticism are listened to and released. No pent up frustrations will be released later down the line as the employee will graciously accept what is said and then not dwell on it. No judgement will be made by the employee, empathy will reveal why the review went as it did, and life will continue.
What about multi-tasking? Research tells us that when the time spent on multi-tasking is reduced, productivity and their quality of work significantly increases. This leads to better staff morale and customer satisfaction. What more can a business want from it’s team?
When employees become meaningfully connected with colleagues, family, and friends by being able to listen, it transforms their connection with the wider world by channelling feelings of peace and calm.
Mindfulness can be the catalyst that changes the company vision.
What Are The Benefits Of Mindfulness For Employees?
Mounds of research shows that our brains are malleable and can actually be rewired through repetition or Mindfulness practice.
Research on the conflict meditators of the brain document neuron growth in the area of the brain associated with learning, memory and emotional control.
Neuron growth also occurs in the area of the brain responsible for awareness. Functional MRIs confirm other positive brain transformations in as little as eight weeks. This is all with a daily practice of under 30 minutes.
Should employees be encouraged to practice Mindfulness in the workplace? Absolutely they should. Are there planned efforts all over the country to lead the Mindfulness at work movement. There certainly is. From Chambers of Commerce to the NHS, Mindfulness is recommended on a large scale owing to the results it brings to the individual and in turn, the company. Many large businesses help their employees learn Mindfulness in the workplace techniques and actively promote their use.
Google is well known for being a strong advocate of Mindfulness in the workplace. Employees there have learned to calm themselves when needed, and this has led to a higher rate of productivity. Learning how to deal with the unknown is a good skill to acquire!
Mindful employees are often able to perceive and reach exponential rates of professional growth, and this includes deepened relationships with colleagues.
Should Managers Be Mindful?
The effects of workplace Mindfulness should become apparent to all those who chose to get involved. It goes without saying that managers must know how to manage themselves. They must take on board all that it takes to be a manager, and then use this information to manage to the best of their ability. They must learn to be an effective, Mindful leader if they wish for their employee engagement to go up..
When managers lead well, they have a content workforce. The company becomes more successful as it will run ‘in tune’. Happy workers work in a more productive and effective manner. This has a knock-on effect, as the customers become happy!
Mindful managers see and relate to the world in a different way to a ‘conventional manager’ – this makes them more aware and effective. They understand how to manage their own nervous system by calming down – this helps when addressing any problems that have occurred, and solving problems that do not yet exist….
The non-mindful manager will more likely think in a negative thought pattern, and view their team as ‘workers’ rather than people. This mindset stops progression and the taking of any elements of risk. It is a fixed mindset that will not progress. The growth mindset is what all managers should be aiming for.
What Are Mindful Exercises?
The secret to any mindfulness strategy is placing focus on the present. Mindfulness meditation is also a very popular technique to try. There are a wide range of free resources, including choosing a meditation app, which can help.
Most people find it difficult to slow down and notice ‘things’ in a busy world. By taking the time to notice and experience your environment, with all of your five senses, you will become Mindful very quickly. The effects of Mindfulness training do show fairly quickly.
Intentionally bring an open, accepting and discerning attention to everything you do. Find the joy in simple pleasures. You must accept yourself and others around you. Treat yourself the way you would treat a good friend. Talk nicely to yourself and do not judge others.
Mindful exercises help with staying Mindful throughout your day. Start by focusing on your breathing. Notice each and every breath, and do not focus on anything else. When you find yourself experiencing a negative thought, try to relax and return your focus back onto your breathing. Focus on your breath as it moves in and out of your body. Sitting and breathing for even just a minute can help. This is the best beginner Mindful exercise to try.
Do Workplace Wellness Programs Work?
There is no question that improving the employee’s ability to cope with work stress is clearly the goal of nearly all wellness programs. More and more companies are introducing wellness programmes and a Mindfulness initiative into their employee onboarding strategies and company missions.
The main reason for a Mindfulness program in the workplace is for health/stress-reduction.
Most wellness programs offer Mindfulness techniques at some point in the training. Simple Mindful techniques can be easily learnt on the internet, either with video tutorials or the vast range of articles written on this particular area.
How Do You Practice Being Present?
Mindfulness is based on the idea that most of us focus our minds in the past or on worrying about the future. We handle the present on auto-pilot!
Mindfulness is a way to direct attention on the present time and relieve a lot of stress, anxiety and depression. When we pay attention to the awareness of our emotions, beliefs and actions, we start to notice our current reality and what is actually happening. This takes over the stress and anxiety of worrying about what may happen (and rarely does). By living in the present, we react to situations properly and with a clear head. This takes over from reacting rashly and harshly to situations that do not need to be handled this way.
Here are a few more structured mindfulness exercises you can practice.
- Body scan meditation: Lie on your back with your legs extended and arms at your sides. Place your palms facing upwards. Focus your attention slowly and deliberately on each part of your body. Start from your little toe, and work up to your head. Be aware of any sensations, emotions or thoughts associated with each part of your body. Remember them, and then move on to the next part. By the time you have finished, any niggles should have reduced.
- Sitting meditation: Sit comfortably with your back straight, feet flat on the floor and hands in your lap. Breathing through your nose, focus on your breath moving in and out of your body. You should aim to sit on a cushion or the floor so that you can adopt the upright position without being tempted to slouch. If you become uncomfortable at any point, slowly readjust your position until you are comfortable again. Try to sit for 5-10 minutes to begin, and lengthen the meditation as you feel more relaxed.
- Walking meditation: Find a quiet place and begin to walk slowly. Focus on the experience of walking, being aware of the sensations of standing and the subtle movements that keep your balance. Notice the breeze, leaves, colours and noises. When you reach the end of your path, turn and continue walking, maintaining awareness of your sensations.
If physical sensations or thoughts interrupt your meditation, note the experience and then return your focus to your breath.
Be aware that not everybody finds it easy to meditate. If you do struggle, simply persevere. Most of us find it difficult to stop our mind from wandering when we first meditate. It is a skill that will just ‘come to you’ when you practice it on a daily basis.
Adding Mindfulness To A Wellness Program
There are three ideas for helping a company to add Mindfulness into their wellness program.
- Offer or create a ‘Mindfulness In The Workplace’ challenge. If you work with a wellness professional, ask them for their input and see if they can offer any education, techniques or resources that would help teach principles of Mindfulness. You can divide the program into two sections – one to focus on personal Mindfulness, and the other to focus on using Mindfulness in the workplace. Group videos and interaction are a good way to get started and include everyone. The program can include employees learning deep breathing techniques, practicing gratitude, or going for a mindful walk.
- Introduce a guest speaker and run a seminar, group training workshop or team meal to learn about mindfulness.
- Update the company incentives point/bonus scheme to award points to employees who complete mindfulness challenges, presentations, or practice mindfulness.
Mindfulness enables us to be more aware of the importance of living in the present. Most people with chronic stress, anxiety and depression live in the past or the future. People who practice Mindfulness usually start with deep breathing then focus on one thing. This added focus helps people become more productive, creative, patient, and understanding.
By being Mindful, the indicators of stress are identified, and then levels of stress reduce. We have our professional lives, personal lives and life events – we can handle these in a much better way if our mind is clear and non-judgemental.
Mindfulness has been proven to reduce many physical and mental ailments, and enhance the quality of the participants life.
If you are interested in learning the ways of the Mindful life, then why not have a look at our course Mindfulness Diploma and see if it can help you and your company.