Charlene Bose
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Mind Your Own Business: How Mindfulness Practices Help the Workplace

Beyond Blue’s research on the state of workplace mental health in Australia shows that only 52% of employees think their workplace is mentally healthy. The report estimates that untreated mental health conditions costs workplaces around 10.9 billion annually.

This might explain the trend of workplaces gravitating towards mindfulness practices in the office.

But what does it actually mean? And why are so many people encouraging it in workplaces?

 

What is Mindfulness?

mind•ful
/ˈmīn(d)-fəl/

adjective
1. bearing in mind
2. Inclined to be aware

Mindfulness is simply what the word means: the idea that we should make an active effort to keep the mind focused and aware of the present. Dr Kabat Zinn, a medical professor and pioneer of modern mindfulness, defines it as “awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally.” We’ve all been guilty of trying to work and then suddenly the mind wanders off to lunch plans or the next episode of your favourite TV show or even that fight you had with you partner. Mindfulness practices helps you train your brain to focus only on what’s in front of you right now.

 

Origins of Mindfulness

Mindfulness practices have been around for centuries as part of Eastern world culture, especially Buddhist traditions. It is no surprise that it has stuck around and been adapted for modern, secular lifestyle as it brings many benefits. Dr Kabat initially created the mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) — an eight-week evidence-based program that offers intensive mindfulness training to help with stress, anxiety, depression and pain for patients in the healthcare system.

Now, mindfulness programs have been implemented in schools, prisons, workplaces, aged-care homes and apparently even the British parliament.

Before moving on to the actual benefits mindfulness brings to the workplace, try answering these questions to see how mindful you are:

  1. What did you think of the taste of your breakfast today?

  2. What was your commute like this morning?

  3. In the past 15 minutes, have you dwelled on something that has or will happen?

  4. Have you read all the words in this article or have you mostly skimmed it?

Most of us barely remember our commute or what breakfast tasted like. Plus, we are constantly distracted by everything going on around us. Chances are, we are zoning out of focus very often and doing things on autopilot.

 

Benefits of Mindfulness

In this economy, workers are being given increasing workloads despite a decrease in time for task completion. Things around us move so quickly and we are constantly exposed to new information every second, before having the chance to process the one before.

You constantly see messages that asks us to ‘hustle harder’ or ‘grind until you get it’. And while working hard and being diligent is important, it shouldn’t be to the point of exhaustion or in the form of a monotonous routine.

That’s not to say mindfulness practices is your one-stop solution for all problems.

However, regular mindfulness practices will help increase emotional intelligence especially empathy and self-regulation. This is because these practices ask you to sit with your emotions, consider how you feel or how you made someone else feel, consider how you respond to situations or how you deal with stress moment-by-moment.

This in turn creates a better workplace environment as everyone is actively working towards creating better responses, are more knowledgeable and can communicate more effectively when they know how to identify problems better. Mindfulness is a great way to sustain long-term company growth and generate a creative workspace.

 

Mindfulness in the Workplace

In the last few years we’ve seen companies like Google, Apple, Target, JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs start implementing mindfulness programs for their employees.

However, you don’t need to be a large enterprise and invest in expensive and intensive programs to get the benefits of mindfulness.

 

Space for Meditation or Yoga

Create a meditation space in the office. Even better, hold weekly meditation sessions for your staff. If you don’t want to hire someone for sessions, YouTube has many free meditation and yoga videos. Not only does it give your employees a time to sit still and be unburdened; it’s also a great way to give the team something to bond over.

 

Practice Gratitude

This is a great way to be mindful of the good things happening around you. Something simple like a little board for thank you notes or a chat group, such as Slack, for call outs can be beneficial in making employees feel appreciated and reminding yourself of all the good work that’s going on.

 

Company Culture

Mindfulness shouldn’t be restricted to health and fitness classes. It’s important for you to consider how your employees feel when they come into work. Do you give them the space to destress? Is there good management? Do they have easy access to communicate issues to leaders and are their queries being addressed?

When you facilitate a good culture, you give your employees the environment to even consider mindfulness and it increases the benefits that mindfulness brings. There’ll be less absenteeism, more productivity and will give you the chance to improve on your leadership.

 

Rates in your business

Mindfulness is a long-term investment in your employee’s happiness and a more hospitable work culture. Mindfulness in the workplace is to employee retention as SEO is to website traffic. You need to invest time, energy and money into making it work well, but the returns you get are worth it.

One of the ways to ensure mindfulness is to avoid overworking yourself or your staff. And sometimes it’s necessary to ask for external help. That’s where we come in.

Handle your marketing the way you handle your own health. With WME, digital marketing and Google advertising becomes second nature. We understand just how important your business is to you and will treat it like our own. Think about what is currently working to date and let us help you come up with a personalised plan to take your business to the next level.

Get in touch with WME professionals to help lessen your workload, feel free to chat to one of our experts on 1300 663 995.

 

Top 3 Take-Aways from Mindfulness

  • Helps you learn skills to acknowledge your present emotions, feelings & thoughts for better emotional intelligence
  • Workplace culture should reflect mindfulness through practicing gratitude, listening to employees and good work/life balance
  • It is a long-term strategy for boosting company morale and helping to reduce turnover

By Charlene Bose


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