People are starting to recognise the benefits that mindfulness can brings to their lives, including the corporate environment. Here are some practical tips on how
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. Why the sudden uptake in this phenomenon? There must be something to it if it appeals to companies such as these.
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 - take a look at the statistics here. Not only does mindfulness training result in happier, more satisfied employees, but it may reduce the cost of stress to business too, through reduced sick days, more productive employees and reduced employee turnover.
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. It has its roots in thousands of years of Buddhist practice, but packaged in a way that makes it applicable in the modern world.
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, making your mind clearer and enabling you to appreciate each moment for what it is and therefore focus better on your real priorities.
Why is it relevant to the workplace?
Mindfulness directly improves performance when it comes to concentration, team work and communication. Langer has run numerous studies which show this across a variety of tasks. Given that these skills are pretty fundamental when it comes to workplace effectiveness, it quickly becomes clear how relevant mindfulness can be to the corporate environment.
Here are four reasons why companies are adopting it as a way of maximising the potential of their workforce, and how you can leverage it from your own personal perspective:
1) Mindfulness 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 focus 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) Mindfulness Relieves Stress
Back to the stats, 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 stress, as it makes you more aware of your state of mind and how it is affecting you, allowing you to nip 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 & 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. Notice the thoughts in your mind - don't try to stifle them, just watch them float by like clouds. 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. However, practicing mindfulness does not work miracles overnight - it takes a sustained effort of daily practice. If you can dedicate just 10 minutes each day to it, you're well on the way to bringing great positive change to your life.
Do you think that your company and your people could benefit from this? To find out more about what the Googles and the Apples of this world are doing for their people, and how Urban Guru can help you bring it to your company, take a look at our DoJo Corporate Workshop options or contact us
About Urban Guru:
We improve the efficiency of your workforce. Our workshops are specifically designed with the corporate environment in mind. They arm your people with practical tools which lower employee stress and increase resilience, helping your people find balance in a hectic world. Delivered onsite at your office, they are easy to access for the modern time-poor business person. The result is a workforce better able to cope with the challenges thrown their way, enabling you to make the most of what they have to offer.