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What is mindfulness and why is it important in a workplace?

By April 28, 2023April 23rd, 2024No Comments

How we control and channel our emotions has a powerful impact on our personal and professional lives. Negative emotions have the ability to cause stress and anxiety and divert energy away from productive activities or behaviours. By practising mindfulness at work and also at home, you will be better equipped to recognise negative emotions and handle them in healthier, less stressful ways. We will look at what is mindfulness and why it is so important to incorporate into our lives. 

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is moment-to-moment awareness. Originally a Buddhist concept, the basic philosophy of mindfulness is to gain self-awareness. Mindfulness establishes a heightened sense of awareness of yourself and your environment. When you’re mindful, you become very aware of your thoughts and feelings, but you do not react or judge them.

You become free from your tendency to have a quick emotional response. Mindfulness enhances emotional intelligence and equips us with the ability to manage our emotions internally and externally. Mindfulness and its impact on stress is also linked to a number of physiological benefits including lower blood pressure, improved memory, and reduced depression and anxiety.

Why is mindfulness important in the workplace?

Practicing mindfulness not only has physiological benefits for individuals but also has a positive impact on their workplace. Mindfulness helps drives many aspects of a healthy workplace including wellbeing, relationships, and creativity.

Mindfulness in the workplace

Wellbeing

Organisations are becoming more invested in the wellbeing of employees due to an increased awareness of the costs associated with an unhealthy workforce. Absenteeism, presenteeism, turnover, and a lack of productivity are all very costly issues that are closely tied to employee stress and mental health. The number of sick days lost to serious mental health issues has doubled in the past decade and mental health is the leading cause of sickness-related absences.

Resilience and the ability to deal with difficult situations is critical to wellbeing. During stressful periods, employees with high levels of resilience will be able to persevere and remain engaged and productive. Mindfulness at work can support resilience by equipping employees with the ability to understand their emotions, their level of stress, and their ability to influence them.

Mindfulness training enables employees to respond to difficult situations effectively and has been shown to have a positive effect on burnout, wellbeing, and stress. Other research has shown that employees who practice mindfulness have higher levels of well-being through improved emotional resilience, better work-life balance, and higher job performance ratings.

In fact, mindfulness can also be used to ease the pressure of holiday stressors, making it easier for people to deal with problems outside of work too.

 

Mindfulness and relationships in the workplace

Relationships

Healthy working relationships are a cornerstone of employee happiness at work. Positive working relationships yield more productive teams, altruistic behaviour, and ultimately increased productivity. Many studies have shown a clear link between mindfulness and improved workplace relationships. The link between these two also extends beyond the workplace to more satisfying personal relationships and increased empathy and sympathy when interacting with others.

Developing strong workplace relationships is particularly important for organisational leaders. Leaders need to develop the capacity to acknowledge their thoughts and environment so that they can present an informed response as opposed to an emotional reaction. This is particularly important during times of change or stress.

One study that measured the relationship between a leader’s mindfulness and employee wellbeing found that increased levels of mindfulness reduced employee stress, increased work-life balance, improved performance, and enhanced engagement.

mindfulness and creativity workplace

Creativity

Creativity is essential for innovation and problem-solving. Without creativity, new products and services will not be developed and processes will not improve. There is evidence to support a relationship between mindfulness and creativity. When people are in better control of their emotions, they experience less stress and can be more creative. Mindfulness can assist in creative thinking by providing increased focus, greater idea generation, and improved receptiveness to new ideas.

How to practice mindfulness in the workplace

The appropriate type of training will depend on your organisation’s goals and desired scope. The most common types of training in practicing mindfulness for workplaces are:

Webinars

Webinars are similar to facilitator-led programmes, but they offer the flexibility of virtual participation. These programmes tend to be lower cost, scalable across different locations, and may also provide employees with a greater sense of confidentiality. However, webinars have their own challenges as participants are less accountable, there may be less engagement, and there can be technical issues with programme delivery.

Self-learning

Digital programmes can provide employees with the greatest autonomy for training. These programmes can be on-demand or delivered according to a certain schedule. A high degree of flexibility and a low cost of delivery are the biggest benefits of digital training. However, these programmes can be the most challenging when it comes to engagement and lasting effectiveness.

Mindfulness offers a host of organisational and personal benefits ranging from physiological health to improved relationships at work. Regardless of the type of mindfulness training, you plan to offer, make sure that the key benefits of mindfulness are aligned with your organisational goals. In order to have a long-lasting impact, any type of workplace training requires leadership buy-in and support.

While mindfulness practices can be done anywhere and anytime, it can be helpful to create a daily routine. Many people find it useful to set aside a few minutes each day for mindfulness practice, such as right after waking up or before going to bed.

Additionally, you can incorporate mindfulness into everyday tasks like walking or eating. By being fully present and paying attention to your surroundings, you can cultivate a sense of calm and peace in your daily life.

Facilitated programmes

Typically, these are courses led by a facilitator or teacher for several weeks. Employees may attend classes multiple times per week and be asked to practice mindfulness on their own as well. This time commitment may not be feasible for the organisation or its employees, but facilitator-led sessions are a great way for employees to receive structured training. Mindfulness training that is done in a group setting also tends to have a positive impact on workplace culture.

Tips to be more mindful at work

There are several things that you can do to become more mindful at work too. Here are a few tips to help you:

Set goals for yourself

The most important part of practicing mindfulness at work is setting achievable goals for yourself. Make a list of tasks you need to complete each day, prioritize those tasks based on importance or deadline, and then set achievable goals that will help you stay on track throughout the day. It’s important to remember that every goal should have an achievable outcome; don’t set yourself up for failure by setting unrealistic expectations for yourself.

Take time for breaks

Another key component of practicing mindfulness is taking time out of your day to take breaks. Even if it’s only ten minutes out of your day, make sure you take the time to step away from your desk and clear your head.

Breaks are especially important when dealing with stressful tasks or difficult deadlines; stepping away can help reset your focus and allow you to approach the task again with a fresh perspective.

Take care of your mental health

Finally, it’s essential that you remember to practice self-care when dealing with work-related stress. Make sure that you’re taking care of your mental health by getting enough sleep, eating nutritious meals, exercising regularly, and engaging in activities that bring joy into your life – like spending quality time with friends or family members or indulging in a favorite hobby.

These activities can all help reduce stress levels, improve mental clarity, and increase productivity over long periods of time – all key components to mastering workplace mindfulness!

Take a mindfulness workshop to improve your mental wellbeing

Taking a mindfulness workshop is an excellent way to improve your, and your teams’ mental wellbeing. It can help unlock greater potential from different team members and enable others to manage stress more effectively.

*This is not medical advice, please contact a medical professional if you think you need to seek further help.

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