No matter the industry or the profession, digital distractions abound in today’s workplace. Emails, chats, social media posts, text messages, phone calls, and pop-ups constantly interrupt our work and increasingly result in excessive stress — leading to illness, physical and emotional exhaustion, and depression.
More and more, today’s employers have looked to reduce the negative effects of ceaseless stimulation by leaning on the ancient practice of mindfulness — defined by Mindful.org as “the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.” Simplifying it even more, Ellen Langer, professor of psychology at Harvard University, defines it as “the simple act of actively noticing things.”
To increase efficiency and help increase the overall health and happiness of your team, read on to see several ways to encourage mindfulness in your workplace.
Inhale and Exhale
Implementing a practice of mindfulness in your workplace may seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, it can be as simple as the act of breathing. At your desk, in a meeting, on the production floor, or at lunch, take a moment to stop talking and breathe. This practice can include conscious inhaling and exhaling, or it can include diaphragmatic breathing (i.e., deep breathing) where air enters the lungs while the belly expands and the chest stays still. In either case, focused breathing can help lessen stress by lowering blood pressure, reducing heart rates, and diminishing the need for the steroid hormone cortisol.
Clear More Space
For mindfulness in the workplace to take hold, you must first examine the ways in which your team works. If your employees feel driven to occupy every moment by working on an assignment or by trying to multitask — a proven impossibility — then no one feels free to notice, think, and dream beyond production. People can only experience mindfulness if management creates the time and space to do so.
To get started, establish specific blocks of time on your team’s schedule for mindfulness practices to let people know how much you value time, space, and peace in enhancing both the work and the worker.
Teach Mindfulness Practices
In today’s world, the art of mindfulness must be taught. Nothing around us naturally encourages presentness. In fact, nearly every stimulus — from the minute we wake to the moment we fall back asleep — pushes our bodies and minds to only get stronger at working harder, faster, leaner.
Help your employees experience a new way of living and working by giving them the tools of mindfulness to employ throughout the workday. Consider creating a quiet, peaceful meditation room in your space, offering yoga classes, or teaching exercises on mindful reading, writing, and listening. Or introduce apps to your employees, such as Headspace, Insight Timer, and Calm, to help get them started calming their minds and staying present at work.
Mindfulness training can interrupt the daily regimen of disruption by teaching the body and mind new — or forgotten — ways to function.
Model the Behavior
Before asking your team to exercise mindfulness, be authentic by first challenging your leadership team to begin implementing these practices throughout the workday. Have them regularly get up from their workstations, take breaks, and walk around to refresh their minds. Or redesign your meeting routines by incorporating mindfulness practices, like deep breathing or meditations. Over time, people will notice and begin to value mindfulness in their roles.
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By incorporating these techniques into your workplace, your business can stand apart in your industry by increasing job satisfaction and enhancing overall performance. More than that, you can deeply impact the lives of those you employ by empowering them to reduce daily stress, become more aware of their feelings, and notice the world around them.