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Mindfulness in the workplace: What is it and how can you achieve it?

11/07 2019Posted by: npower Resourcing Team
 | HR
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The workplace wellness movement is more than simply a ‘nice to have’ – it’s now become an inescapable element of modern working life. With mental health issues now the leading cause of sick leave in the UK, it’s clear that employee wellbeing is a vital component of any business strategy. So what exactly is mindfulness and how can you incorporate it into the workplace? 

A moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts and surroundings 

Mindfulness is defined by the NHS as an awareness of the present moment, your thoughts and feelings and the world around you. It involves actively taking pause to reflect on your physical, mental and emotional state, reconnecting your body with sensations it experiences. Mindfulness practices can include meditation, yoga, Tai-Chi and progressive relaxation. In its simplest form, mindfulness simply means awareness, but it can be much more complex in its outcomes. 

Reduce anxiety and stress, improved focus 

Practising mindfulness is said to have many benefits, including attention regulation. People spend at least half of their waking hours thinking about something other than what they’re doing, which can not only be detrimental to their attention span, but also to their productivity at work. Mindfulness can encourage employees to take pause, regroup and refocus their energies on what’s in front of them, encouraging more positive responses to anxiety. 

Mindfulness can also lead to stress reduction, something which is vital in an age where more than half of working days lost each year are stress-related and 80% of employees report feeling stressed at work. Some of the world’s major organisations – including Google and Adobe – have implemented formal mindfulness programmes in a bid to combat workplace stress, with courses including topics such as ‘managing your energy’. Mindfulness expert Mirabai Bush maintains that while mindfulness cannot prevent conflicts from arising, it can help team members to more skilfully address and respond to difficulties. 

Incorporating mindfulness into your workday 

The first step to mindfulness involves simply reminding yourself to stop and acknowledge your feelings, sensations and surroundings. This can be achieved through taking short breaks throughout the workday, where you put down your work for a few minutes and simply check in with what you’re feeling and thinking. Others may choose to meditate or practice yoga, which both can help to develop awareness of your breathing and can be done in small sessions throughout the course of the day. When you’re at work, try single-tasking instead of multi-tasking, which encourages you to direct all your focus and attention on one activity. Another technique is active listening, which involves repeating back what you think you’re hearing and seeking clarification to ensure you understand correctly. This not only benefits you in terms of mindfulness, but also has a clear impact on your approach to learning and working. 

Just like physical exercise, our brains are also affected by a ‘use it or lose it’ approach. This means the more regularly you practice mindfulness, the more used to it your brain will become, giving it increased ability to repair itself and grow new neural connections. 

Practice mindfulness in your next role with npower 

We support and practice mindfulness at npower as part of approach to our Culture of Care and Wellbeing programmes. Make a start with a new job at npower – see our latest vacancies here.
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