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Mindfulness meditation has become a popular self-care technique for those juggling a busy and sometimes demanding lifestyle. Meditation is no longer a term that conjures images of hippies sitting cross-legged in fields and is widely recognised as a mainstream and necessary technique for stress management. It has been scientifically proven to reduce stress, anxiety and depression, and can help us counterbalance ill health and achieve greater harmony in our lives and work.
What is mindfulness meditation?
Mindfulness meditation is a meditation practice that teaches us to bring our attention back to the present, release negative thoughts and achieve a mental state of calm and positive emotions.
What are the benefits of mindfulness meditation?
- It makes it easier to savour the simple pleasures in life and to fully engage in activities that bring us joy
- It helps us to quell negative thoughts and strengthens our ability to overcome challenges
- It helps to relieve stress and anxiety
- It improves mental health
- It helps us to identify and manage our emotions
- It has a positive impact on our physical health
- It increases our self-awareness
- It helps us to focus on the present
- It increases our sense of wellbeing
- It improves our focus
- It improves our relationships
- It improves sleep habits and practices
How can mindfulness meditation help businesses to create a healthier, happier workforce?
The workplace is busier than ever. With employees struggling to meet tight deadlines, manage heavy workloads and achieve a reasonable work life balance, it is all too easy to become mentally exhausted and overwhelmed.
There is now evidence to suggest that mindfulness meditation has a plethora of workplace health benefits, both mental and physical. These include improved cognition, stress reduction, better collaboration and improved memory. It has also been shown to improve decision making skills and listening skills.
Many organisations are now using mindfulness meditation to empower a happier and healthier workforce and are experiencing benefits such as better teamwork, improved leadership skills, and higher levels of employee engagement. These savvy employers understand that prioritising the wellness of their workforce is one of the best investments they can make. Employees who engage in wellness programmes tend to enjoy higher levels of satisfaction at work and produce higher standards of work overall.
Healthy, happy employees are more successful, more creative and more likely to exhibit a ‘can do’ attitude. They are also more willing to step outside their comfort zone, contributing to their personal and professional development. Happiness is infectious and it will serve an organisation well if happy employees are boosting the mood of those around them. Most importantly, healthy, happy employees create healthy, thriving businesses.
These organisations have learned that fostering a positive and supportive work environment inspires employees to take pride in their work. If employees are disengaged and unfocused, it affects everything from their performance to their decision making to their standard of work. By encouraging employees to embrace the powerful benefits of mindfulness meditation, employers are enabling them to eradicate negative or irrelevant thoughts and focus on what’s important.
If you’re not sure how to go about promoting mindfulness meditation in the workplace, start with these tips:
Run an in-office group meditation class
What better way to reward your team for their hard work than bringing them together for a group meditation class that is guaranteed to leave them feeling calm and relaxed, ready to start the next day with a clear mind and increased motivation. It’s easy to hire a qualified meditation instructor and group sessions are an effective way to boost work relationships and instil a positive attitude in staff. They’ll benefit from being able to switch off in a quiet space, feeling their tension melt away. Enhance the experience by using ambient lighting and offering attendees a comfortable space to sit or lie down.
Educate employees on the benefits of mindfulness meditation
Be proactive about communicating the benefits of wellness initiatives to employees and Initiate conversations around mindfulness meditation in the workplace. In doing so you are demonstrating that you value their wellbeing and are taking active steps to support it. Listen to your employees and ensure you are always taking their needs into consideration.
Encourage employees to take breaks to practice mindfulness meditation
Offer people regular opportunities to replenish their energy by allowing them to take short breaks to practice mindfulness meditation throughout their working day. Not only will this help them to process and retain information better, it will also ensure that they return to their desk or place of work with renewed vigour, ready to tackle the next challenge.
A couple of simple meditation techniques we recommend are:
– Body scan
Lie down somewhere warm and comfortable and focus your awareness on the sensations in your body. Take a few deep breaths as you bring your attention to each focal point, starting with your toes, then your ankles, calves, knees and thighs, then up to your fingers, arms, abdomen, chest, neck and head. If you notice any discomfort, acknowledge it, take a deep breath in, and relax/release it as you exhale.
– Walking meditation
For those who’d like to combine their lunchtime meditation with some exercise, a walking meditation would work well. Find a peaceful location, breathe normally, and move slowly in one direction. Once you have moved forward a few steps, pause and take a few more deep breaths. Continue this pattern for 15 – 20 minutes. Walk slowly and take small steps, ensuring that your breathing remains slow and relaxed. Focus your mind on the sensations in your body and if you feel any discomfort, breathe through it. If your mind wanders towards negative thoughts, allow it to do so but watch as those thoughts pass, and then bring your attention back to the present.
Click here for a list of useful meditation resources and apps.
Offer an online mindfulness meditation course as a reward or offer a discounted subscription to a mindfulness app
With so many different mindfulness meditation courses on offer, both on and offline, it’s easy to select one that will be suitable for the needs of your employees. Since we use technology in all aspects of our lives, why not use it as a simple way of inspiring employees to integrate meditation into their regular routine. A few apps we recommend are Headspace, Calm and Balance.
Motivate employees to practice meditation at home
When we repeat the practice of mindfulness meditation regularly, we reap greater benefits. By motivating employees to meditate daily, even if just for a few minutes, you will notice changes in their attitude towards work faster.
Tips for non-meditators
For those who either don’t have the time to meditate or feel that meditation just isn’t for them, here are a few alternative strategies that will help to calm the mind and body without engaging in formal practice:
- Determine which activities make you feel at your most zen, for example when you are cooking, running, or swimming. Take time to really focus on what you are doing, don’t rush and savour the moment.
- Find a quiet place where you can be alone with your thoughts, for example on the top of a hill overlooking a beautiful view. Bring your attention to the present, absorb your surroundings, and feel your tension easing.
- When something makes you feel stressed throughout the day, stop what you are doing, take a deep mindful breath, redirect your attention from the negative to the positive, then proceed.
If you’re looking for further insight into how to create a happy and nurturing workplace, or how to attract the best talent, speak to one of our consultants today!
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