How can mindfulness help in the workplace?
How many of you – employee, manager or leader – have noticed stress, anxiety, low morale in your workplace?
How many of you have experienced it yourself?
How many of you go to work feeling anxious and caught up in thoughts revolving around your day ahead?
If we were all sitting in a room together right now, many of us would probably raise their hand or at least nod in agreement.
1 out of 4 people in almost every country suffer from some common mental ill-health such as depression, stress or anxiety in the workplace (Sir Cary Cooper, co-founder of Robertson Cooper, A Good Day at Work Conference in 2014).
And perhaps unsurprisingly, a report by the New Economics Foundation, Wellbeing at Work (2014) found higher employee productivity and performance is associated with better psychological wellbeing.
Practicing mindfulness in the workplace can help to completely shift how we experience work and how we respond to stress and anxiety levels in our day-to-day.
Mindfulness is a state of being. It’s not something we do.
So we could say:
- Mindfulness is intentional. It includes a sense of purpose that enables us to make choices and act with awareness.
- Mindfulness is experiential. It focuses on present-moment awareness that’s based on accurate and direct experience.
- Mindfulness is non-judgemental. It allows us to see how things really are without judging ourselves and other harshly.
- Mindfulness is heartfulness. It is compassionate awareness, the very quality of awareness that we bring to someone we love and care about
Mindfulness has helped me become more and more aware of my stress pattern
When I feel stressed I have a narrative in my head that goes like this: I have too much work to do, I can’t cope, I won’t be able to do it, it’s too much. These thoughts trigger the mind’s alarm system which in turn triggers more tension in my body and makes my breath shallow and inhibited which in turn impacts on the decisions I make; what I say to my colleague, client or manager and how I say it, aka knee-jerk reactions. Then, to top it all off, I beat myself up for being so stressed, inefficient, grumpy or moody which adds another layer of anxiety and stress.
Mindfulness has helped me become more and more aware of my stress pattern. So when I feel stressed, I now notice my breath getting shallow, I recognise the thoughts racing through my head, and the feelings in my body (eg tightness, racing heart, anxiety, sweating, panic, overwhelm, too muchness) and take some deeper breaths and let the breath find its natural rhythm again which allows the mind and body to calm down and relax.
Mindfulness can transform how we experience ourselves and how we relate to our work, others and our life at large.
And the good news is: everybody can be mindful. It’s a skill we can all learn. The more mindful we become the more we get to know ourselves and the more resilient, happier and healthier we become because we are more and more in charge of our own choices.
A robust mindfulness practice can be learnt over a 6-week mindfulness course
for the workplace
I am an accredited mindfulness trainer with Breathworks-Mindfulness.org building on my eight year personal practice of daily meditation and mindfulness which I myself, my coaching and team building work have greatly benefited from over the years.
Mindfulness practice increases staff’s wellbeing, creativity, happiness and productivity at work and most importantly it can prevent burnout-out and long-term absenteeism.
For more information or to arrange an informal chat email me: email@example.com