Mindfulness is a real buzzword when it comes to mental health. But what is it and how can it help in the workplace?
Mindfulness is simply paying more attention to the present moment; the thoughts and feelings you are experiencing and the sights, smells, sounds and sensations in your immediate environment.
It’s all about the here and now. Rather than dwelling on yesterday or what might happen tomorrow. This is why it takes practice.
Anyone can practise mindfulness to improve their mental wellbeing and it is a useful tool for those who experience periods of depression or anxiety.
When we are more aware of the present moment, we can better enjoy the world around us; it helps to bring a sense of calm and focus.
I first started learning about mindfulness after experiencing a challenging period of anxiety and depression. I had heard that it can reduce your chances of experiencing depression again by 50 per cent.
Figures show that around 60 per cent of people who experience a single episode of depression are likely to experience a second but mindfulness has been shown to reduce that number.
Studies* suggest that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy can be as effective as medication in preventing recurrent depression and reducing symptoms.
Many of my clients have reported that mindfulness makes them feel more in control of their thoughts and feelings; they are sleeping better and feeling more productive and creative, and relationships were also improved.
So how can this help in the workplace?
Practised regularly, it can be an extremely useful tool within the workplace, to ease stress levels and improve communication and focus among employees.
It can improve resilience, emotional intelligence, and communication, which can only be a good thing in any work environment.
Poor communication and high stress levels can lead to conflict, resentment and clashes that affect the day-to-day running of the business and the individual employee’s mental wellbeing.
At one time, stress almost became a badge of honour in some workplaces, but thankfully now more and more employers are realising that this is counter-productive and leads to burnout and exhaustion.
Research at companies like Google have found that increasing mindfulness in the workplace can decrease stress, improve focus, thoughtfulness, decision-making abilities and overall wellbeing.
It helps people regain control and see clearly with the ability to deal with conflict and challenges more calmly and effectively.
There are many easy ways to incorporate mindfulness into the workplace.
Managers who want a more mindful workforce can offer or create a mindfulness campaign, raising awareness and encouraging employees to engage. They could invite helpful experts (like me) in to speak about the benefits and to share tips on how to make mindfulness a part of daily working life.
Individuals can take time to practise mindfulness during the working day, and the good news is that even just a few minutes can have huge benefits.
They can start with simple deep breathing in a quiet pace, focusing on one thing. But they don’t even necessarily need to leave their desks. While they are carrying out their day-to-day work activities, they should focus on the task in hand and try hard to concentrate on the touch, sight, sound, smell and taste of the immediate surroundings.
With a little practice and patience these techniques can become an integral part of everyday working life, reducing stress and enhancing wellbeing.
I can help managers and individuals find out more about mindfulness techniques and benefits through one-to-one coaching and my workshops, such as Unplug with Mindfulness. I also offer bespoke eight-week mindfulness courses.
Find out more about what we offer by chatting to us.