People are starting to recognise the benefits that mindfulness brings to their lives. Here are some practical tips on how it can benefit you in the corporate workplace
Mindfulness is becoming increasingly popular in the workplace, with companies such as Apple, PwC and Google establishing programmes for their employees. PwC offers “resilience” training and Google runs 19-hour courses on it.
There are numerous studies which show mindfulness to be effective in treating stress and anxiety overall and these innovative companies believe that these benefits also apply to their businesses. Stress is a major issue in the modern world in which we live - recent statistics issued by the HSE show that 45% of sick days in the UK. So there is definitely a case for it. Not only would mindfulness training result in happier, more satisfied employees, but it may reduce the cost of stress to business too.
So what is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is about calming the mind by being more present in the moment you're in. It brings awareness to thoughts and behaviour patterns and allows more control over the negative aspects. Essentially a form of meditation, it has its roots in thousands of years of Buddhist practice.
Ellen Langer, a Harvard University psychologist who studies mindfulness, describes it: "Mindfulness is the process of actively noticing new things. When you do that, it puts you in the present. It makes you more sensitive to context and perspective."
People who practice it are more focused in their day to day, as it creates “space” in the mind to concentrate on the things which are important. It reduces the mind's tendency to jump around and makes you less likely to enter into negative thought spirals. It's a great way to manage the challenges of hectic modern life, calmly and efficiently.
In a nutshell, mindfulness is a way to become more aware of what's going on around you, right now. It allows you to let go of unnecessary thoughts and worries about the past, the future or elsewhere
Why is it relevant to the workplace?
Mindfulness directly improves performance and Langer has run numerous studies which show this across a variety of tasks. However in addition to this obvious benefit, here are a number of other reasons why companies are adopting it as a way of maximising the potential of their workforce:
1) It improves ability to focus
Mindfulness allows you to concentrate your efforts on one thing at a time and makes you better able to deal with and avoid distractions. This is the opposite of multi-tasking, where our brains move quickly from one thing to the next, leaving us unable to concentrate our efforts on any one thing for long enough to do it well. Whether you call it “monotasking” or something else, a focused mind is a productive mind.
2) It relieves stress
Back to that stat, stress is responsible for 45% of all sick days in the UK. As well a limiting performance, it is the precursor to a whole host of other life-limiting health conditions such as high blood pressure, autoimmune disease, cancer, depression and heart disease. Mindfulness has been scientifically proven to reduce it, as it nips that fight-or-flight response in the bud before it takes hold.
3) It boosts creativity
Creativity is closely linked to your state of mind. Mindfulness enables you to get into a better mindset by being in the “now” and helping you override the negative thoughts that stifle creative thought and self-expression. More creative thinking leads to more innovative ideas and solutions, which strengthens problem solving skills.
4) It improves EQ and communication skills
Mindfulness helps us navigate social complexities and manage our social interactions better. This is because it makes us more aware of our emotions and how they affect others, as well as how others’ emotions may be affecting us. EQ is a critical factor that sets star performers apart and many of the best leaders are high on the scale. A Harvard study also found strong connections between mindfulness and prosocial behaviour, such as kindness and compassion.
Try this quick exercise: sit in a comfortable position, close your eyes and become aware of your breathing. Notice every element of the movement of the abdomen, chest and lungs. Focus your attention on the tipping point where the inhalation becomes an exhalation. Be aware of the sensations in your body as you do this. Let go of unnecessary thoughts and be fully present in the moment you're in.
Overall, not only can mindfulness help you move forward in your career, but it makes you a better, more balanced person in all aspects of life. With large, innovative companies taking it up in their droves, they can't all be wrong.
For more information on how Urban Guru can help you integrate it into your employee wellbeing programme, take a look at our DoJo Corporate Workshop options or contact us