Less stress, anxiety, rumination and depression, and higher levels of self-esteem, positive emotions and life satisfaction all lead to healthier and more well-rounded working individuals.
Here are four ways to encourage your employees to stay mindful all year round, with help from coaching psychologist at The Mind Room, Dr Melissa Marot.
1. Understand the various techniques available
For those who are skeptical or time poor, there are many ways one can bring mindfulness into their daily routine. “Formal practices of mindfulness are meditation or visualisations where you might sit quietly for a while and engage with a practice. This can be very useful. Informal practices are the more practical everyday applications of mindfulness or ‘mindfulness in action’, such as mindful walking or eating,” says Marot.
Encourage your team members to start with the more simple, informal techniques. Marot explains how to do this: “Keep your mind focused on your selected activity by using your senses (sight, touch, smell) and anchor to the present moment – activities can be as straightforward as sorting out the stationery cupboard, walking to the printer, eating lunch or drinking your morning coffee. It’s important that they are activities away from the computer and involve physical movement. You can aim for at least five minutes of daily practice in this way.”
2. Introduce it with an open-mind
Marot says that for anyone new to the practice of mindfulness, the key is to have a curious, open-minded attitude. She discourages any organisation making meditation sessions or mindfulness workshops mandatory. “Some people will find it easier to approach formal practices, such as meditation, and others the more informal everyday activities of mindfulness. Be open-minded that some people will love it; others will find it's not their cup of tea. Both are OK.”
3. Offer it as a stress management tool
“One of the important aspects of mindfulness is that it can help you 'unhook' from your thoughts and feelings, disengage from and let go of them, and not get carried away by them,” says Marot.
To maximise its reception in the workplace, have resources available for employees who are interested, such as apps, websites, books and classes, that they can access in their own time. You could also bring in an expert to facilitate a lunchtime session and generally build a culture of mindfulness. A great way to do this is to give time out for employees so that they can practice mindfulness, even for short 5–10 minutes at a time during the day.
4. Practise what you preach
For your employees to believe in the power of mindfulness, you need to believe in it too. According to evidence-based neuroscientific research, there can be positive neurological changes in a person after a period of mindful practice, and this period can be as short as eight weeks.
“Research has shown that being more mindful is associated with a number of things, such as better decision-making, sleep quality, coping, decision-making, optimism, flow experience and empathy, which all have a clear impact on one's personal and professional life,” says Marot.