Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, stress and anxiety levels are going through the roof. According to Statista, a wave of stress has hit the workplace and the numbers raise several concerns. Statista researched the percentage of workers reporting higher stress levels since the coronavirus outbreak in 2020 — 67% of respondents said their stress levels went up significantly.
Some Fortune 500 companies such as Apple, Nike, LinkedIn, and Intel adopted mindfulness in the workplace to help their employees to manage stress and increase overall productivity. If these big corporations are sold on the idea, what could this mean for you and your own work?
A mindful approach to work can transform the way we work. Here, at Mindful Life, Mindful Work, Inc. we’ve seen the benefits firsthand. One of MLMW’s directors, Shenandoah Weiss, said that the benefits of taking a mindful approach are many — some clients have reported that after taking part in one of our open-enrollment class offerings, My Mindful Work Week (MMWW), they experienced:
An improved ability to manage stress
Mindfulness allows us to be compassionate and curious observers about what happens to our emotions, thoughts, and behaviors when we are triggered by stress. It trains us how to stay more in the present moment -- our lived experience of what’s happening -- rather than getting spun up in our minds by the stories about the past and future.
By staying with our lived experience of stress, we get information about what we might need in order to feel more grounded and to have more choices in how we respond versus reacting out of our conditioned habits.
Mindfulness can also help us to better notice the pressure traps we often fall into during the workday, such as feeling like every work request warrants a speedy response. By allowing us to more readily check in with ourselves about who and what is truly important, we can then choose to move via a more grounded way of accomplishing tasks.
An improved ability to be relaxed or "grounded" in the face of change
We face challenges and unexpected events daily, and mindfulness allows us to tune in with what’s actually going on, which helps us ease back from the attachment we might have to a limited outcome based on our previous experiences.
Cultivating the capacity to approach things mindfully enables us to keep an open and curious mind by “focusing on noticing our lived experience of changing conditions -- sensations, questions, and emotions that are arising within us -- rather than getting caught up in catastrophizing about future scenarios.
Mindfulness and a mindful approach also allows us to more readily flex into a “bigger picture” perspective that can, in turn, help us to put the ‘sting of change’ within the context of our larger life path, which ultimately then allows us to more readily experience our own resilience related to the vast amount of change we each have already successfully navigated.
An increased ability to focus, leading to increased work
Mindfulness brings increased awareness about where we place our attention. Many mindfulness practices are also invitations to focus one’s attention in particular ways such as on the breath, on our body sensations, or by observing the shape of our emotions and thoughts.
Training our attention via ongoing practice has the benefit of increasing our ability to then train our attention in our work activities, to be aware of our highest priorities, to have a more sustained and uninterrupted focus upon our tasks, and also to be more present in our conversations and other types of communications with others.
An increased ability to access a calm state throughout the
Developing a state of inner calm is a skill and it takes practice. Mindfulness allows us to have the experience of accessing a deep sense of stillness or grounding within ourselves, and this can be regularly cultivated as a reliable place to come back to as we choose, even as the circumstances around us change and we experience different triggers throughout the day.
Knowing there is a stillness within strengthens our sense of resilience and provides us a deep level of comfort amidst what can sometimes feel like daily chaos.
And the list of mindful benefits goes on and on!
Mindfulness in Community
As opposed to what many people might think, meditation and mindfulness aren’t only individual practices. Community nurtures the necessity or wish
for human connection — and we connect with others by affinities or common attributes.
The pandemic has disrupted our natural ability to socialize, our craving to stay connected with those around us. But during this languishing period,
we can still establish connections with others through the medium of technology.
The practice of mindfulness in a community gives the support, exposure, relatability, wisdom, and energy that only a group of like-minded people can bring. Togetherness — is the opposite of loneliness — and it creates an important sense of belonging.
Mindful Life, Mindful Work, Inc. has developed a community setting for all professionals interested in learning about and regularly
My Mindful Work Week is a weekly 30-minute live video offering that includes a 15-minute mindfulness practice followed by Q&A and a discussion period.
How To Integrate Mindful Business Practices In The Workplace
But what can you do to bring and integrate mindful practices into the workplace? Whether you're a leader, an entrepreneur, or an employee — here are three ways to get started.
Set Time and Space for
If you’re an individual, create some time in your schedule to disconnect from technology and tune in with yourself. It can be after lunch, during the coffee break, before or after work — whatever suits you.
Choose the best mindful practice technique that suits you — you can go for a mindful walk, find a quiet space and meditate, or you can choose to practice mindful breathing. Set the alarm on your mobile if it helps, and take this time to declutter your mind!
Opt for Monotasking Instead of
Neuroscience has already said: we’re mono-taskers. If you’re used to switching back and forth between tasks, you should think twice. Multitasking taxes the brain, and it harms productivity.
Choosing mindful ways of working over multitasking (or at least monotasking) will help you work more effectively and will also result in better overall feelings throughout your day.
Bring Mindfulness and Mindful Approaches into Your Company
If you’re a team leader or entrepreneur, you can integrate mindfulness and mindful approaches into the workplace culture in many ways. Things like proposing a device-free meeting, beginning meetings with a “minute-to-arrive”, or an exclusive quiet room for meditation are simple ways to begin team conversations around making small changes.
Camila Santiago is a content writer and strategist specializing in health and corporate wellness, including extensive experience writing SEO-friendly content. She writes, edits and proof-reads content on wellness topics spanning physical, mental and emotional wellbeing, and does so for organizations aiming to improve overall employee wellbeing and professional excellence.