What is mindfulness and why should you introduce it at work?
What is mindfulness?
Put simply, mindfulness is meditation. It’s an ancient Buddhist practice which is about paying attention in a particular way, in the present moment, on purpose and non-judgmentally.
Now, before you think that all sounds a bit ‘woo woo’, let me explain more. Mindfulness is not a religion and it’s not about sitting cross-legged on the floor. It’s about learning to train your mind, accepting and acknowledging your feelings and bringing awareness to the present moment.
Today the majority of people lead very busy lives at work and home and spend most of their lives on autopilot. When you go home you may find it difficult to switch off from work, especially with the amount of technology around meaning you are always connected, which makes it very difficult to relax and unwind.
You’re always thinking about the huge list of things still to be done. You’re so busy ‘doing’ it’s not possible to take time to enjoy the now, this moment. You’re always worrying about the past or the future and missing your time in the present.
One of this consequence for this busy life is your work-life balance suffers and so does your health. You may experience a feeling of overwhelm, stress or depression. This then affects your work and home life. You may make mistakes, become unproductive, overreact to issues and have difficulty with relationships.
Practising mindfulness will not make all your issues go away but will enable you to make choices, and learn skills that will help slow you down so you can enjoy life. It allows you to focus your attention and have choices over how you react to situations. It can provide you with an opportunity to prevent things from spiralling out of control.
When you meditate you can use your breath as an anchor which starts the calming process. You’ll soon find that your heart rate slows down, you become more relaxed, blood pressure falls and tension is released. While you are concentrating on your breathing it’s not possible to think of anything else.
Numerous clinical trials have shown the positive effect mindfulness has on the brain including wellbeing and happiness.
Mindfulness creates a sense of control over your conscious thoughts, attitude and behaviours. Any activity at any time can be completed using mindfulness.
Four benefits of mindfulness in the workplace
Increases productivity, the ability to focus and concentrate
Mindfulness helps you to think and respond more creatively and improve your productivity. It can make you feel more energetic, give you the ability to see a broader perspective and become a better listener.
Reduced stress, anxiety and depression
Research by Breathe found that 37% of UK businesses have seen an increase in stress-related absence in the last year and that 62% of health-related absences were due to long-term health conditions including stress.
The Health and Safety Executive also reported that one in five employees feel very or extremely stressed at work and that in 2017/18, 15.4 million working days were lost due to work-related stress or depression. This is up by nearly 2.5 million in the previous year.
Practising mindfulness meditation on a daily basis reduces your stress levels and provides techniques to help you cope and see things differently, which can be especially beneficial in the workplace.
Supports a healthier work-life balance
By paying attention to how things are and not judging things in any way can help you respond more effectively in all areas of your life.