How can your business benefit from mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a hot topic in today’s society, as we all strive for healthy minds and bodies and the benefits that come from wellness.
Mental health awareness has improved significantly over the past few years, and more and more of us are speaking openly about mental health issues and seeking health from professionals.
But how can we use mindfulness in our daily lives to benefit our mental, physical and emotional wellbeing? How can we practise mindfulness in the workplace? And what are the benefits of mindfulness to employers and employees?
We’ve decided to take a deep dive into mindfulness to find out everything you need to know about it, in one place.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is defined in its simplest terms as “the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something; 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.”
And while it seems simple enough to live in the present moment and be aware of ourselves and our surroundings, so many of us find this virtually impossible in our busy modern lives.
How many of us can honestly say we are able to focus completely on the present, without our mind wandering into worrying about a forthcoming meeting, stressing out over something that happened yesterday or even planning what to make for dinner?
If any of those tangents sound familiar, you’re not alone.
But the good news is, mindfulness isn’t some weird practice you’ll feel a bit silly adopting. In fact, it actually comes naturally to us all, if we can master the art of letting go of all of those unnecessary thoughts and anxieties.
This means absolutely everyone is capable of practising mindfulness, so let’s find out why we should.
What are the benefits of mindfulness for the workplace?
We’ve decided to break the benefits of mindfulness for the workplace down into different sections, so we can learn more about each benefit and how it relates to our working lives. Of course, all of these mindfulness benefits can be applied to daily life and not just work, but we are particularly interested in how mindfulness can have a positive effect on businesses and the workplace.
Read on to find out the main ways in which being mindful can help in your business.
1. Reduces stress
Mindfulness has been cited as a key factor in reducing stress in individuals who practise it. Studies have found that by practising mindfulness, people are more able to adapt to tackle stressful situations in their working life, rather than avoiding them and causing further stress.
It has also been observed that another benefit of mindfulness is its power to regulate emotions, which improves mood and equips people to cope with stress more easily.
2. Reduces depression
Similarly, mindfulness has the capacity to reduce depression – another key benefit for businesses interested in exploring the benefits of mindfulness for their employees.
Again, the ability for mindfulness to help regulate emotions plays a huge role in helping people to deal with depression. Rather than fighting negative emotions, mindfulness helps us to identify them and accept them, which is a more effective coping strategy. As depression is becoming more and more commonplace among the UK workforce, this is surely a positive outcome of practising mindfulness.
3. Improves health and our capacity to deal with illness
Mindfulness isn’t just great for your mental health, but it can actually impact your physical health in a positive way, too.
People who regularly practise mindfulness are more likely to display other positive healthy behaviours, like exercising, eating healthily, avoiding alcohol and cigarettes and maintaining (or reaching) a healthy BMI. There’s also a connection between mindfulness and lower blood pressure, which is a fantastic benefit for the general health of the UK workforce.
Another huge benefit of mindfulness for businesses is the fact it can help our bodies deal with illness much better, which means fewer sick days and a stronger workforce.
And while the majority of studies have been carried out on terminal illnesses like cancer, there is evidence to show mindfulness can benefit conditions like back pain by helping sufferers to live independently, experience less pain and focus less on the pain they are experiencing, enabling them to live a happier life.
4. Improves productivity
If you think mindfulness is all about calming down and relaxing, think again. By harnessing the power of mindfulness in our day-to-day business, we can increase our productivity and focus.
This works by improving our capacity to pay full attention to detail, be less distracted and therefore produce better work.
Mindfulness also helps workers to have a clearer focus on what’s important, helping them to prioritise the most urgent work and work more effectively.
It can even help improve memory and concentration – which are both surefire ways to make us perform better at work.
Insurance company Aetna put this to the test by offering mindfulness training to staff, discovering that those who took part increased their productivity time by 60 minutes a week – adding up to a business benefit of $3,000 a year for each employee. How much more could you get done if every member of your staff spent an extra hour a week fully focused and operating at a heightened level of productivity?
5. Encourages innovation
Modern work culture promotes multi-tasking, which means we are never fully focused on one thing – but the good news is, our brains are perfectly capable of adapting and adopting new ways of thinking and therefore working.
When we use mindfulness to fully immerse ourselves in the present moment – or task – we can unleash creativity and innovation which would otherwise have been dormant as our minds flitted from one idea to another. We’ve all experienced the process of remembering something by making a conscious effort to stop trying to remember it. Similarly, our brains can produce something truly rewarding when we empty them of all the distractions around us and focus into the present moment.
6. Enhances decision-making
Another business benefit of mindfulness is to do with decision making in the workplace.
Our ability to make decisions can often be affected by our emotions. And as we have learned that mindfulness improves our ability to regulate our emotions, this – in turn – helps us to make more rational and smart decisions in our working life, as this study shows.
7. Improves sleep
One of the cornerstones of a happy and healthy workforce is a well-rested team who arrive at work firing on all cylinders. If you have to drag yourself out of bed bleary-eyed and rely on caffeine to get you through the day, you’re less likely to be an asset to your employer.
Sleep is another area where mindfulness comes into play in an extremely positive way. As sleep problems can be associated to
8. Decreases staff turnover
A happy and healthy workforce is far more likely to stay put. Conversely, people who are stressed out, depressed or ill are highly likely to leave work or look for another job to solve their problems.
So, it’s easy to see how mindfulness and its benefits to businesses and the workplace in general can lead to far fewer employees reaching boiling point, and therefore help employers maintain a low turnover of staff.
9. Improves relationships
The practice of mindfulness lends itself naturally to building stronger and happier relationships. After all, when we let go of the past, stop worrying about the future and choose our words and actions more carefully, we are far more respectful and less likely to offend or clash with those around you.
Personal relationships will naturally benefit from these effects of mindfulness, but so too will your professional relationships. Employers have observed calmer, happier and more mutually respectful workplaces when staff practise mindfulness, which leads to a host of long-term benefits that we have already detailed earlier, including heightened performance and productivity and lower staff turnover.
How can we practise mindfulness?
After waking up to the phenomenal benefits of mindfulness to businesses, you’re probably thinking “this all sounds great, but how do I actually practise mindfulness?” Read on for a simple beginner’s guide to mindfulness, adapted from developgoodhabits.com
Step 1 – Put some time aside
The first step to practising mindfulness is finding the time, so think about when you’re unlikely to be interrupted and be able to find a quiet space.
Step 2 – Focus on the moment
Here’s where it really begins – it’s time to focus on the present moment and concentrate on your breathing, your body and the sounds around you.
Step 3 – Do nothing
For once in your busy life, it’s important to stop everything and just be.
Step 4 – Block out the past and future
We all know we can’t change the past, but that doesn’t stop us dwelling on it in our daily lives. Well, now is the time to stop!
Equally, planning for the future or worrying about future anxieties and situations is not going to help you achieve all of the benefits of mindfulness. That’s why it’s crucial to fully focus on the present moment without all of the usual cluttered thoughts about the past and present. Even an awareness of the time prevents us from being mindful, so ignore it and focus on yourself and your breathing.
Step 5 – Think about your thoughts, words and actions
Once you start living a mindful life, it’s crucial to delve into why you are thinking, saying and doing things. Do your thoughts, words and actions really benefit others or present as a source of good, or are they actually selfish, harmful or hurtful?
Mindfulness is all about positivity, so when you begin to practise it, you will start to ensure everything you think, say or do stems from a positive place.
Step 6 – Free yourself of judgments
We all judge sometimes, it’s only natural. However, part of mindfulness involves facing up to your judgments and releasing them. By clinging on to them, we can venture down a path of negativity, but letting go of judgments is the path to contentment.
Step 7 – Come back to the present
Once you have revisited your judgments, or if you find yourself veering back into thinking of the past or future, come back to the present moment and resume your focus.
Step 8 – Forgive yourself
Nobody is perfect, and mindfulness is not going to happen instantly. Therefore, if you find your mind wondering what time it is or panicking about a future presentation, then don’t treat is as a failure. Acknowledge your thoughts, then let them go and focus back into your breathing to return to your mindful state.
How can employers promote mindfulness?
Harnessing the power of mindfulness as a tool to benefit your business is one of the smartest moves you can make as an employer. But how can businesses promote mindfulness and start reaping the benefits of a mindful workforce?
Big employers like Google offer mindfulness training to their staff to make their workplace run more smoothly, so this is an avenue you can explore for your business.
In response to the growing trend for mindfulness, there are a growing number of companies offering training in mindfulness, both in the workplace and at external locations.
Create or designate a space dedicated to mindfulness, where employees can go for some peaceful practice and meditation. Make sure everyone is aware of this space and when and how they can use it, to encourage discussions and awareness of how mindfulness can benefit your business.
If you are in the process of looking for new office space for your business, think about spaces which could be suitable for meditation and mindfulness practice, as well as ensuring your surroundings will be conducive to a healthy and happy workforce.
Mindfulness worksheets can be a great way to encourage your employees to stay on top of their mental health by practising mindfulness at work. This can provide ideas on how to incorporate mindfulness into their working day, as well as checklists to ensure they are covering the key aspects of mindfulness when they practise it.
You can easily download free mindfulness worksheets from Google to suit your business and staff.
Communication and support
Encouraging an open relationship with your employees around mental health issues is crucial in any workplace, and promoting mindfulness should help you to open up the lines of communication.
Once your staff have learned to embrace this practise, make sure you encourage them to discuss any issues they are experiencing and support them to seek out professional help if and when it is appropriate.
Incorporating mindful moments into your daily working life is easier than you might expect. Begin each meeting by asking each member of your team to share any praise or support for their colleagues, and invite staff to share their experiences of mindfulness to benefit others.
We hope this post has helped you to understand more about mindfulness and how it could potentially benefit your business. Please share your experiences of mindfulness for business with us on our social channels!