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The Benefits of Practicing Mindfulness in the Workplace
September 2, 2021
There’s really no limit to the benefits of practicing mindfulness. Mindfulness offers many benefits – from increasing mental health to reducing stress, to more creative thoughts. Post-pandemic, more and more businesses are keeping their employees’ mental health in mind. This means bringing mindfulness front and center at the workplace. Read on for some of the ways you can benefit from corporate wellness, and how mindfulness in the workplace can play a role in your health and wellness.
Listen to Leah Weiss on Untangle! She’s an expert in workplace anxiety, burnout, resilience and offers a multitude of ways to support our mental health. Leah shares several practical tools for finding our purpose AND aligning our goals and values so that we can live our best life.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness means paying attention to what’s happening in the present moment in the mind, body, and external environment, with an attitude of curiosity and kindness (1). While it’s similar to meditation and attention training, what differentiates mindfulness is really about being accepting and compassionate in the process of bringing your mind back (1).
How do I practice mindfulness?
There’s no one way to practice mindfulness. The good news is that although a few tools can help, you don’t need any equipment to do it. Just a bit of time, focus, and desire!
When you’re setting down to do your practice, the general goal is to try and pay attention to the present moment. It’s not about thinking about nothing or waking up four hours later in a completely Zen state. Your mind will absolutely wander – that’s human nature! Your goal is just to gently nudge it back to your breath and the present moment.
If you find yourself mid-thought about a work project or your grocery list, don’t be disappointed. Calmly acknowledge your mind has drifted, and refocus on the present moment.
More structured meditation is a tool that can help build mindfulness. It helps you bring that drifting mind back into focusing on the present. For more info on the difference between meditation and mindfulness, and how they work together, check out our blog post below.
Mental health is more important than ever in the shadow of Covid-19, yet there’s still stigma attached to the topic, particularly in the workplace. Only 50% of employees feel okay discussing mental health issues with their employees, according to a recent poll by the American Psychiatric Association. A third of them are concerned about the consequences if they do speak up (2). While this is a worrying statistic, it’s one that can be improved with an acceptance of mental health, led by a corporate wellness program. There’s growing evidence that shows that promotion of mental health, as well as prevention and early intervention initiatives, show positive returns on investment, both financially and for individuals (3).
Mindfulness as part of a corporate wellness program serves a variety of benefits, including:
There’s growing research that mindfulness can improve the ability to concentrate, decrease the fear of being judged, and enhance open-minded thinking: all the ingredients to being more creative! (4).
Decrease sick days
In any given week, at least 500,000 employed Canadians are unable to work due to mental health problems. This includes:
Approximately 355,000 disability cases due to mental and/or behavioral disorders
Approximately 175,000 full-time workers absent from work due to mental illness (3)
Thanks to its ability to boost immune systems and mental health, mindfulness can help decrease sick days. Ideally, this would encourage employees to use them when needed, instead of bringing in an illness to the office, and causing other team members to head home sick.
Support mental health
As we’ve discussed, mindfulness is directly linked to mental health. There’s no understating the importance of mental health, particularly in the workplace. In any given year, 1 in 5 people in Canada will personally experience a mental health problem or illness. By age 40, about 50% of the population will have or have had a mental illness (3).
Encouraging your workplace to develop a corporate wellness program can go a long way! From destigmatizing the topic of mental health to being a great perk for employees whether at the office or working from home. Consider instituting a mental health day once a quarter, or a group mindfulness session first thing each morning.
When it comes down to it, companies are concerned about dollars and cents. Using this argument, the cost of a disability leave for a mental illness is about double the cost of a physical illness leave (4). Bottom line: saving on disability leave means helping employees with both physical health and mental health. When companies promote mindfulness in the workplace, they help make their employees feel supported, save money and reduce paid time off.
Beyond just employers, the economic cost of mental illnesses in Canada was estimated to be at least $7.9 billion in 1998, with costs only increasing (5).
With all the items discussed here, it’s no surprise that mindfulness can support our overall happiness and quality of life (6). Particularly at the office. Taking a few moments to calm our thoughts can go a long way to contextualizing feedback or stressful situations, helping us to feel happier and more relaxed.
What can companies do to cultivate mindfulness in the workplace?
Offering teams a wellness option at work, like Muse’s corporate wellness plan, can help make the workplace a happier and more healthful place. Providing mental health spaces for employees to relax, meditate, or simply sit in the dark and reflect, can help employees know that their company takes their mental health seriously. Even starting a three-week internal meditation challenge with a team can be a fun way to connect with teammates and try something new together.
Looking for something a little more instructional? We get it – practicing mindfulness in the workplace can be daunting. That’s because many people aren’t sure where to start. Our plan provides access to step-by-step courses to help teach you how to meditate. We also offer hundreds of guided meditations to help reduce stress, increase focus, manage work-life balance, help you sleep, and more. Plus, we offer 1-on-1 coaching for team members to take advantage of, and even discounts on Muse devices. It’s important to remember: how you find your calm at the end of the day isn’t quite as important as the fact you’re looking for it. Find a method of relaxation and stress reduction that works for you. Whether it be mindfulness, exercise, or relaxing with a good book.
Work Day Pause
As a special feature, enjoy a sample of Elisha Goldstein’s guided meditation Work Day Pause and take a moment to focus on your breathing.
Read the Mindful Nation Report, published by the UK government HERE >
Take a look at the recent American Psychiatric Association poll statistics on mental health in the workplace HERE >
Read more on Mindfulness meditation: A research-proven way to reduce stress, published by the American Psychological Association HERE >
Learn more from the Canadian Mental Health Association HERE >
Read more from the US National Library of Medicine National Institute of Health on Mindfulness and creativity: Implications for thinking and learning HERE >
Read more on How Meditation Increases Happiness HERE >
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