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Mindfulness in the Workplace

In recent news, the British Government announced that they will start implementing Mindfulness in randomised control trials in more than 200 of their schools.  But is teaching Mindfulness within organisations not also hugely important? Increased life pressures, stress, constant connectivity and various other aspects such as depression, anxiety and other mental disorders are forever on the rise not only amongst our children but also in a demanding workplace.  So, what is “Mindfulness”?

According to the dictionary, Mindfulness is “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.”

In layman’s terms it basically means you make yourself purposefully aware of you, your thoughts and your physical state in the here-and-now-moment to truly experience life.

But why is Mindfulness important? So many of us are stuck in a routine, trying to keep to deadlines, trying to keep head above water, consequently, life becomes one big rat-race.  Most of us are, simply put, stressed out of our minds. Constantly worrying about the future and dwelling on the could-haves and should-haves. Our lives pass us by and before you know it, you forgot to enjoy life and to truly live.

Mindfulness increases your well-being. It helps you focus on what is important and helps you deal with daily stresses. If skills of Mindfulness are mastered you no longer worry so much about the future or care what happened in the past. You learn to focus on the present and make a success of the current situation.

Mindfulness is no longer only a skill learnt from meditation techniques and Yoga.  In today’s demanding workplace, staying focused and giving your undivided attention to tasks and conversations to stay productive is nearly impossible. You, therefore, need to learn how to increase your efficiency by decreasing your stress levels. Easier said than done, right?

The first step is to accept the things you cannot change and focus on the present moment. Try the following:

  • Encourage your employees or team members to take time for themselves during office hours. Time where they can just zone out and think or day dream. Force them to take regular breaks where they actually walk around. They need to focus on the present and by not controlling every minute of your employee’s day, you give him/her the chance to think and relax. You will be surprised as to what ideas they come up with in the next brainstorming session.
  • Teach your employees to think before they act. In an article by Forbes.com, Cheryl Amyx, 4CEO at Inc. said she encourages her employees to always think of their actions from another’s point of view and to take their perceptions into consideration. She suggested that when you are in doubt, stop and focus on the “C3” rule, which is to feel Clear, Calm and Confident before you do anything like send out an angry or aggravated email etc. This will help to combat a bad attitude which can later result in self-doubt and anxiety.
  • Create awareness of Mindfulness in the workplace. Let your employees learn various Mindfulness techniques like simple breathing exercises, how to concentrate on the human element and how to speak with kindness. Encourage them to take just a minute here and there to focus on their senses. A simple smelling of coffee and focusing on how good it tastes in the meeting can help you calm your fight-or-flight responses.
  • Lead by example and through emotional connectivity. This will help your employees see that emotional intelligence plays a vital role in Mindfulness at the office. When employees freak out or are in an emotional state, bring them back to the present and make them focus on the here and now. Guide them in conversations to concentrate on how they currently feel and create awareness of what goes on around them at that moment in time.
  • Promote single tasking amongst your employees. We have a habit to multi-task the entire day because it makes us feel more productive. But in actual fact, focussing on a single task and completing it is better. Sometimes it is very helpful to take a single task and only focus on that until it is completed.

Mindfulness should be incorporated throughout the workplace, whether it is during meetings or giving enough time in between schedules to pay attention to this important aspect of our daily lives. While you read this article, The Mindspa Institute forced you to focus on the present moment where you could just sit and read. This helped you to relax and also created an awareness of how important Mindfulness in the workplace is.

The Mindspa Institute offers a variety of soft skills training courses offered in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town and Durban. We pride ourselves on our course material and our interactivity within the course presentations.