Whether our workdays are spent home or in a workplace bustling with activity, the pressure of staying on top of the workload can take its toll. In 2019, the World Health Organization named occupational burnout an “occupational phenomenon,” and organizations must help employees safeguard against it. One important tool is to make mindfulness a part of the organizational culture.
Mindfulness is a way of being present in the moment with total awareness. It enables us to bring the best of ourselves to work interactions and situations, because it raises our consciousness. It gives us a feeling of expansiveness that helps us show up fully authentic and awake.
When mindfulness becomes integrated into everyone’s workday, it changes the energy around the tasks at hand, improving focus and productivity. At the same time, it helps people communicate more thoughtfully and authentically with each other. People become more observant of their environment, their own feelings and the needs of others.
Use these mindfulness tools to make workdays positive and productive across the organization:
1. Bring Mindfulness Practices to the Forefront
Share the benefits of mindfulness techniques in reducing stress and raising the overall level of consciousness during the workday, and emphasize the heightened performance and more meaningful co-worker relationships that mindfulness offers. Invite staff members to take breaks, to connect to their breath and to practice present moment awareness. If possible, see if your organization can offer a quiet, welcoming space — whether indoors or outdoors — where people can step away and clear their heads.
2. Encourage Employees to Start Each Day With Mindful Breathing
Share this simple breathing exercise to establish a sense of calm and set the tone for the workday:
- On the inhalation, (silently) count 1-2-3-4-1.
- On the exhalation, count 1-2-3-4-2.
- On the inhalation, count 1-2-3-4-3.
- On the exhalation, count 1-2-3-4-4.
- Repeat to the count of 10 — or longer, as needed.
Encourage employees to do the exercise anytime they begin to feel stressed or overwhelmed. Ask for feedback about whether they notice more grounding and focus when the breathing exercise becomes common practice.
3. Model Mindful Listening
We all can become distracted during busy times, which means we may not be doing a great job of listening to others when they’re talking or asking questions. Model the practice of listening more attentively and mindfully. This practice shows others that their opinions matter and that they’re worthy of receiving your undivided attention.
4. Encourage Leaders to Build Pauses Into the Workday
Many people’s workdays are non-stop from start to finish. Some have meetings back to back, leaving little time to take a moment to breathe or take a break. Encourage leaders to make a point to allow for pauses amid the busyness, including ending meetings 10 or 15 minutes before the next begins so that everyone has time for conscious breathing and connecting to their inner calm. The more we practice inserting pauses into our days, the better we’ll become at pausing when we need to reset ourselves back to our conscious center and to the present moment.
5. Practice “Noting”
Another mindfulness tool, noting is a way to become aware of what we’re feeling or experiencing. Noting means noticing or paying particular attention to something. When a co-worker or our boss does something we find irritating, instead of reacting to the annoyance, we can note what we’re feeling and stay present with it.
Having an awareness of how we feel, and noting it to ourselves silently, we can breathe through it and tell ourselves something like, “I’m irritated right now, but I don’t have to react to this” or, “I can tell my co-worker or boss how I feel at another time when I’m not as affected by my emotions.”
Noting is useful for self-regulation and non-reactivity, but you can recommend other ways to practice noting, such as noticing how it feels when drinking a cup of coffee or tea while working. Feeling the warmth of a drink or being aware of how it smells or tastes it can help ground us and make us feel less stressed.
6. Connect to a Sense of Wholeness
So often, we’re caught up in doing what we think we’re supposed to do or expected to do without noticing how we’re feeling while doing it. We need to go inward and connect with more than just the person we project to the world.
Promote the need to connect to one’s authentic self. Doing so gives us a sense of non-separation, wholeness and completeness. Mindfulness helps return us to our conscious homeland and reminds us that we’re here, in this moment of “now,” and that there’s no other moment than this one.
Make developing a mindfulness practice part of your employee wellness effort. It’s the perfect tool to help organizations run smoothly and effectively — and healthfully. Raising consciousness in the workplace leads to a more fulfilling, productive culture with little occasion for burnout or stress.