Mindfulness in Business
You stressing? Let’s talk about mindfulness at work. ‘Mindfulness’ has become bit of a buzzword in the wellness industry. Now, it’s making its way into business spheres. The term is sometimes considered diluted or politically charged, along with ‘well-being’ and ‘wellness’. But, this is something everyone can benefit from. Literally everyone. Simply put, mindfulness is being mentally present in the moment. It’s being able to think introspectively.
‘Mindfulness – the relaxed, non-clinging, non-aversive awareness of present experience – is a skill that, like any other skill, requires developing,’ says meditation guru Sylvia Boorstein.
Why should we care about mindfulness at work?
Well there are a number of benefits from using mindfulness techniques in your personal and work life, such as:
Surprisingly, getting started with mindfulness is remarkably simple to achieve. It just needs between 10 and 30 minutes out of your day. Try it out for a week or two and see if it has an impact.
The four categories of mindfulness
Mindfulness methods can vary from person to person. The main categories of mindfulness fall into:
1. Meditative practices (breathing and thought-based exercises)
2. Flow-based exercises (yoga, tai chi, etc.)
3. Nature immersion (nature walks, gardening, etc.)
4. Introspective conversation (therapy, group sessions, etc.)
You can mix and match these categories to best suit your situation. Mindfulness at work has particular constraints. However, most people focus on meditative practices or flow-based exercises. For the best experience we recommend including all of these, if possible.
‘A corporate culture of mindfulness not only improves focus, but the ability to manage stress and how employees work together.’ – Case Western Reserve University
Mindfulness is routinely taking time out your day to remind yourself of your own humanity and innermost self.
Meditation can differ dependent on individual preferences; however, the most common practice is to sit with your eyes closed and focus on breathing, sensations and the environment around you. For businesses, this is the easiest method of mindfulness to encourage. No need for fancy spaces or cushions with scented candles. Meditation can be done in your chair at work. Try putting on a pair of head phones, even if you don’t have any music playing.
Meditation at your desk is a great place to start. If you want the best results, consider getting out in nature to meditate, or, if that’s difficult, creating a nature space in your break room.
Flow exercises are usually performed in groups as it easier to get into a routine together. This can be a daily or weekly activity with friends or co-workers. Yoga is probably the most popular version of flow-based exercises, with different levels of difficulty. Tai chi focuses more on the mental aspects rather than the physical.
If you’re interested in introducing this into a business environment, it might be an idea to create a group for a quick session in the morning before starting work, at lunch, or even after the working day is done. When you’re starting out it may be an idea to bring in an instructor to guide you.
Tai chi doesn’t require mats or private rooms and can be done while standing. Yoga is the next step up. It has the ability to help the body release tension and enables a merging of physical exercise (feel those endorphins!) and a calming mental experience.
Immersing yourself in nature seems like an easy and cheap solution to improving your mental health, but making it part of your daily life can be difficult, especially if you live in a big city. Encouraging employees to walk or cycle to work is not only a way to get people to exercise more, but it allows them to take in their environment. They can appreciate nature as part of their daily commute.
As a business, getting staff to go on nature walks or simply encouraging them to go outside in the sun for lunch is a fantastic way to release stress and improve their creative energy. Creating a nature space in the break room or as part of a relaxation space is a welcome compromise if there are no suitable spots nearby.
Introspective conversation is what many people would call a ‘deep meaningful chat’. It’s a little more than a quick heart-to-heart, though. Introspection is a mindfulness skill that comes with practice. It is the ability to think inwardly and asses your own position in the world, honestly and calmly, assessing your actions, feelings and consciousness.
Put simply, introspection is studying yourself to gain understand of what makes you, well, you.
This usually involves forms of therapy or coaching. However, once individuals have learned introspection techniques, they can share this ability with others. Naturally empathetic people are a great source of comfort when you are feeling stressed, but remember, they can’t take all your emotional burdens, so if you have a lot on your mind a professional service is perfect.
Businesses can provide over-the-phone counselling through services like BUPA, and a great company culture goes a long way to enabling these kinds of conversations between colleagues.
If you are looking to encourage mindfulness at work and want to know more about the subject, we provide workshops and coaching to give you the knowledge and methods to develop your company culture and innovation.