how to practice mindfulness at work

When you know how to practie mindfulness at work you will greatly increase your productivity and reduce any stress. It will make it so much easier to deal with all those emails, presentations, meetings and phone calls.

Mindfulness is the simple practice of focusing the mind on the present moment in a nonjudgmental way. As a meditation teacher, I have personally taught many people to be more mindful in the workplace, and I have seen how it can reduce stress, improve communication, and help staff morale. Of course, I am also mindful with my own work. It helps me to be productive without getting stressed.

Benefits of practising mindfulness at work

Mindfulness at work is beneficial for both the employee and the employer.

For the employee, mindfulness helps us to remain calm during stressful moments. It helps us to be more productive because we are more conscious of what we are doing [READ: How To Use Meditation For Productivity]. And it makes us happier at work, as proven by scientific research.

There are big pluses for the employer too. Not least the fact that practising mindfulness at work leads to increased productivity and higher employee satisfaction, which in turn leads to better employee retention rates. A 2014 US study conducted by Dane, E., & Brummel, B. J.et al. [2] showed that being mindful at work led to an increase in Turnover Retention because mindful employees are better equipped to handle stress at work.

Simply put: the benefits of mindfulness at work extend to both empoyer and employee. This is why companies like Adobe, Google and Facebook have started to incorporate mindfulness at work.

But what exactly is mindfulness? And how do you practise mindfulness at work?

Mindfulness is the state of being consciously aware of the present moment in a non-judgmental fashion.   Read our beginners guide to mindfulness for more on this

It will come as no surprise that the biggest benefits of mindfulness and meditation are all mental health related. This is arguably more valuable at work than anywhere else.

As a meditation teacher, I have many times witnessed the big benefits of practising mindfulness in the workplace. Too many workplaces suffer from low staff morale—whether office, restaurant, home business or any other type of workplace. We are beginning to realise the importance of better equipping employees with the tools they need to handle stress, and one of the best ways to do that is to practise mindfulness at work.

There are countless benefits of mindfulness for the workplace. But they all come down to this: Mindfulness helps employees to reduce reactivity to stress and pressure.

Whether it’s constantly trying to hit a target at work, worrying about an important stakeholder presentation, or harassment from colleagues, the workplace is a haven for stress, anxiety and depression. The result of this is an increase in sick days as more and more employees are being diagnosed with work-related mental health conditions.

I personally used to suffer from severe stress at work. I would feel so much pressure that it would give me headaches, and my headaches would make it impossible to be productive, which led to more stress. It became a vicious cycle. That is, until I started practicing mindfulness at work.

According to MentalHealth.org, 14.7% of employees suffer work-related mental health problems, the most common of which is stress (although anxiety and depression are also commonplace).

Practising mindfulness at work means being conscious of the present moment while working, and this has been shown to improve workers’ ability to handle the pressure and expectations that can cause mental health conditions (READ: overcoming stress at work).

You might wonder how you’re supposed to practice while working. After all, it’s not like you have a lot of time, but Shamash Aldina (“author of Mindfulness for Dummies”) says, “Mindful exercises can be as short as you wish. Even one minute of consciously connecting with one of your senses can be classified as a mindful exercise.” [4]

Importance Of Mindfulness Exercises on Work Performance

Not only are mindful exercises at work improve mental health, they are also conducive to high-performance levels. That’s why many executives are introducing mindfulness at work. [READ: Meditation For Success]

Practising mindfulness in the workplace increases motivation, productivity, concentration and many other elements. One way it helps with productivity is that it boosts single-tasking (the opposite multi-tasking), which is essential for productivity. Multi-tasking does not work, as proven by Zheng Wang at Ohio State University, who found that students who muti-task felt more productive but were actually less productive

But it can be hard not to multitask at work. Janice Marturano, founder of the Institute for Mindful Leadership, says “The information we’re bombarded with [from emails, texts, etc.] can [produce anxiety] and it can create a sense of disconnection that can overwhelm us [in our professional lives]”.

Do you feel like youi’re constantly bombarded with noise and information? I know the feeling. Often when I am at my workplace I continually get emails and messages pouring more and more tasks on me, things that I need to do, and that does add up to make me feel stressed.

The staggering amount of noise and information has given rise to the term “information economy.”  Writing for the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkley, Jacqueline Carter and Rasmus Hougaard say, “In the attention economy, the ability to maintain focus and concentration is every bit as important as technical or management skills.”

Thankfully, mindfulness helps to tune-out noise and people that might be distracting you so that you can focus.

Mindfulness makes workers more aware of what they are doing. It boosts consciousness and helps us to focus through the negative thoughts and stress that come from a demanding job. This increased awareness means employees are less likely to make mistakes and more likely to perform their roles successfully. It also changes the Default Mode Network, so that if you automatically multi-task you will naturally develop more of a single-take mindset.

Calmer, more relaxed and more mindful employees lead to a happier workplace that is devoid of the negative comments and bickering of toxic workplaces.

But perhaps the biggest benefits of mindfulness at work is improved focus and concentration.

Research shows that mindfulness enhances the region of the brain responsible for self-regulation: The Anterior Cingulate Cortex. This ultimately helps the employee to avoid distractions, such as emails and social media. The University Of Washington states, “…Those trained in meditation stayed on tasks longer and made fewer task switches, as well as reporting less negative emotion after task performance…”

How To Practise Mindfulness At Work

Having seen the staggering benefits, you are probably wondering just how to practise mindfulness at work.

Mindfulness started as a Buddhist practice. Buddha taught that mindfulness is a meditation practice focused on living in the present moment. But today there are many modern ways to be mindful, meaning you don’t necessarily have to sit with your eyes closed and take 108 breaths, which even I myself, as a meditation teacher, sometimes do not have the time to do.

There are many mindfulness exercises for the workplace. In essence, we can be mindful of any simple, repetitive task (of which most jobs have plenty!).

Some examples of mindfulness exercises for work include:

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Mindfulness at Work - How to be Mindful at Work Tips

Taking It Further

There are so many reasons to start practising mindfulness at work. It benefits both employee and employer and costs nothing. Big companies like Google and Nike are starting to embrace mindfulness, and smaller employers are following suit.

Many companies these days hire mindfulness instructors to visit the workplace to teach employees to be mindful. This is a small investment with big rewards.

By introducing mindfulness in the workplace, you can improve staff morale, reduce turnover rates, and increase productivity. It’s a simple practice that benefits the whole team.

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About Paul Harrison

Paul Harrison is a qualified meditation teacher and writer with more than 15 years experience in meditation and mindfulness. He studied meditation in Oxford, UK, and Hamilton Ontario Canada, and earned his degree at Staffordshire University. Paul has helped thousands of people to discover their true potential through mindfulness, yoga and meditation.


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