Stress is highly prevalent in Australia and around the world, particularly within the workplace. The Stress and Wellbeing in Australia survey 2014 found that 2 in 5 (44%) of working people in Australia identified their workplace as a significant source of stress in their life. This workplace stress was also linked to complicated health outcomes and nearly half of Australians (48%) found that their work demands were acting as a barrier for them to lead a healthy lifestyle.
There are a number of techniques which have been used over the years to reduce workplace stress, one in particular is Mindfulness-Based Techniques (MBT) which have become more prominent in today’s society and in new research studies. Jon Kabat-Zinn pioneered this newly emerging intervention and others followed, finding the Mindfulness Techniques were showing early promise in significantly decreasing anxiety (Hoffman et al , 2010)
So what is Mindfulness? Paying attention and being aware of the present moment, with purposeful observation and without judgement. Mindfulness has originated from Buddhism and as many of you know is regularly used throughout yoga practices and meditation as well as in the treatment of anxiety disorders, chronic illnesses and depression.
How does Mindfulness work in the workplace? Being Mindful allows you to view the stress-related issues that are surrounding you, in a non-judgemental and accepting way. Leading to reduced stress.
A number of well known companies have actually introduced these Mindfulness Interventions in the workplace including P&G, General Mills, Google and Apple. It has even been found that a quarter of US companies are now incorporating Mindfulness and MBT throughout their working day. General Mills encourages regular meditation sessions in the morning before employees start work as well as lunchtime yoga sessions in their conference rooms A few years ago Google introduced a new program called ‘Search Inside Yourself’ whereby Google employees were sent on a course to teach emotional intelligence through meditation and mindfulness which in turn can create useful mental habits.
We should encourage Mindfulness and MBT within our own organisations. We aren’t all lucky enough to work at the likes of Google or General Mills for our daily dose of Mindfulness but perhaps we should all be more mindful about Mindfulness (excuse the pun). We need to combat workplace stress and through building techniques that allow us to become more aware of our reaction to these stressors and situations and being able to observe in a non judgemental way, can help to reduce this anxiety and decrease the negative effects of workplace stress.