Mindfulness is an increasingly popular technique that has been shown to reduce stress, particularly in the workplace. According to the Stress and Wellbeing in Australia survey 2014, 44% of working Australians identify their workplace as a significant source of stress in their life. This workplace stress is also linked to complicated health outcomes, with nearly half of Australians (48%) finding that their work demands are acting as a barrier for them to lead a healthy lifestyle. Therefore, implementing mindfulness-based techniques in the workplace can be highly beneficial.
Jon Kabat-Zinn pioneered mindfulness-based techniques, and since then, it has gained popularity in new research studies. Studies have shown that mindfulness techniques can significantly decrease anxiety (Hoffman et al, 2010). Mindfulness involves paying attention and being aware of the present moment, with purposeful observation and without judgment. Mindfulness has its roots in Buddhism and 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? Mindfulness allows individuals to view stress-related issues surrounding them in a non-judgmental and accepting way, leading to reduced stress levels. Many well-known companies have introduced mindfulness interventions in the workplace, including P&G, General Mills, Google, and Apple. A quarter of US companies are now incorporating mindfulness and mindfulness-based techniques throughout their working day. For example, 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,’ where 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 mindfulness-based techniques within our own organisations. Not all of us are lucky enough to work at companies like Google or General Mills for our daily dose of mindfulness. Still, it is crucial to combat workplace stress by building techniques that allow us to become more aware of our reaction to these stressors and situations and observe them in a non-judgmental way. This can help reduce anxiety and decrease the negative effects of workplace stress. Therefore, mindfulness can be an essential tool for individuals and organisations to promote a healthier and more productive work environment.
Incorporating mindfulness into the workplace doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. There are simple mindfulness exercises that employees can practice at their desks, such as taking a few deep breaths, stretching, or taking a short walk. Encouraging employees to take regular breaks throughout the day to stretch, meditate, or take a walk can also be highly beneficial. Furthermore, it can be helpful to create a designated quiet space where employees can take a break and practice mindfulness.
In conclusion, mindfulness-based techniques can be a highly effective way to combat workplace stress. Mindfulness involves paying attention and being aware of the present moment, with purposeful observation and without judgment. Many well-known companies have implemented mindfulness interventions in the workplace, and mindfulness has been shown to decrease anxiety and improve mental habits. Incorporating mindfulness into the workplace can be simple and cost-effective, and it can help promote a healthier and more productive work environment.