Stop and think – why mindfulness in the workplace is a good thingLauren Heaven • 9th May
Mindfulness is a buzz word you’ve probably come across. Google, the NHS, Transport for London and PwC, to name a few, have all embraced mindfulness in the work place. To be mindful is to be aware. It’s the art of paying attention, and being wary of autopilot.
It’s a tool for good mental health, and for Mental Health Awareness Week 2017, with the theme ‘Surviving or Thriving’, we thought we’d share an introduction to mindfulness, and how it can help both colleague and company.
If you’ve ever driven to work and wondered how you got there, eaten a meal without tasting it (especially at your desk!) or held a conversation with someone only to forget the content immediately afterwards then you have experienced not being mindful.
Practicing mindfulness helps people to be more reflective, manage conflict, communicate better, and improve attention spans – plus, it only takes a minute to start your mindfulness journey.
If you’ve never meditated before, it can sound daunting, but it isn’t at all. Simply find a quiet space and start to focus on your breathing, in and out. When your mind wanders, instead of letting it, bring your attention back to your breath. This is the first step to living in the present, noticing your thoughts and feelings, and taking control. There are plenty of apps available to help you meditate too.
Live in the moment
According to research, 47% of the time people are thinking about something different to what they’re doing. With a to-do list as long as your arm and a deadline looming, it can be easy to only half-heartedly commit to the conversation with your colleague about the weather. But actually, being present in all your interactions, with your colleagues, in meetings, and even when eating your lunch will help you to be more mindful. Single tasking is much more effective than jumping from thought to thought, and losing track.
Make the most of your breaks
Between tasks, practice mindfulness. Rather than checking your phone or emails, take the time to breathe, or get outside and go for a walk. Breaks boost creativity – sitting at your desk all day makes it hard to be mindful, so change your environment, and take the time to notice it.
A small minority of people, 13%, report living with high levels of good mental health in the UK. Workplaces need to give people the tools they need to increase this figure. Encouraging colleagues to practice mindfulness and giving them time and space for their mental health helps them, and in turn helps your company – thanks to improved communications, lower stress levels and fewer sick days due to mental health.