How mindfulness makes a difference

'Mindfulness' is a frequently used word. It is a central element in reducing stress and boosting wellbeing.

With its roots in Buddhism, it is a practice of shifting our thoughts away from our preoccupations towards an appreciation of the present moment.

As we continue to experience the impacts of COVID-19, there is an intense focus on our present moment. To add to this, there is constant talk of the future and what it might (or might not) look like.

Combined with reflecting on life pre-COVID, it is not surprising many of us are struggling to concentrate.

Especially at work.

Practicing, and encouraging mindfulness, over time, can help us fight any unhelpful thoughts we experience.

We’ve pulled together the top three reasons why mindfulness is important for your workplace.

What (actually) is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is the idea of learning how to be fully present and engaged in the moment. Where you feel aware of your thoughts and feelings without distraction or judgment. (Source: Headspace)

The American Psychological Association offers a deeper explanation:

“In this sense, mindfulness is a state and not a trait. While it might be promoted by certain practices or activities, such as meditation, it is not equivalent to or synonymous with them.”

Mindfulness relates to our ability to not be overly reactive or overwhelmed by what is happening around us.

One which can help improve our relationships at work.

The benefits of mindfulness

Mindfulness is a tool which has been commonly used in psychological therapies since the 1970s.

It is a powerful tool for the workplace – for managers and employees alike.

Practicing mindfulness comes with powerful benefits, including:

  • Improved attention, concentration, and memory
  • Reduce feelings of fear, anxiety, depression, and stress
  • Greater resilience to intrusive thoughts
  • Improved emotional regulation and feelings of calm
  • Enhances your personal and work relationships

(Source: Mental Health Foundation)

Mindfulness for managers

Work can be intense, sometimes stressful.

Sometimes stresses from other parts of our lives can affect us at work, too.

It may not come as a surprise to learn we spend the highest number of hours a week interacting with our colleagues.

Which makes it crucial to maintain good relationships at work – making it an essential tool for managers.

3 reasons why mindfulness is important in your workplace

1. It can improve your meetings
As we learn to be more present in the current moment, we can often find our listening skills improving. Being mindful when listening allows you to create space for what your colleagues are sharing, instead of just nodding along as you wait for your turn to speak. You’ll find everyone’s communications skills improve, more gratitude amongst colleagues – helping your meetings run smoothly.

2. It helps you focus
When you’re feeling stressed at work it can be all-consuming. With our emails, office messenger, social media and our phones all vying for our attention – it can create a feeling of overwhelm. Encouraging mindfulness and factoring mindful moments into your day will improve your focus, reduce your multi-tasking and improve the overall quality of your work.

3. Conflicts are resolved more efficiently
Disagreements, even conflict can happen at work. When you encourage mindfulness, it can help your employees or colleagues to respond more skilfully and thoughtfully in moments of disagreement. This enables more efficient and empathic resolutions.

Quick tips for mindfulness at work

  • Focus on your breath and senses – A breathing exercise is a subtle yet powerful way to practice mindfulness at work. Focusing on your inhalation and exhalation for just a couple of minutes can help you relax and focus.
  • Take regular breaks – Many people think they cannot afford the time to take a break, let alone have breaks regularly. Start with just a few minutes each hour by getting away from your desk for a brief walk, stretch or breathing exercise.
  • Review your notifications – It’s hard to have an uninterrupted break of any kind, if you have push notifications constantly appearing on your desktop or device. Taking the time to review your notifications will help you cut down on interruptions and improve your concentration.