The average person’s mind wanders 49.6 per cent of the time, which suggests the challenges in holding focused meetings and engaging staff. That’s why experts are advising businesses to encourage staff to practise mindfulness in order to reduce stress, increase focus and productivity and enable greater self-awareness.
Mindfulness is a key part of stress management and is the practice of purposely focusing your attention on the present moment and accepting it without judgment. Scientists are also discovering the benefits of mindfulness on strengthening the positive neural pathways in the brain through neuroplasticity.
Mindfulness involves bringing in several short mini-meditations or moments of presence throughout your day so that it becomes not only the structured 20-minute meditations – as, let’s face it, many people don’t find the time for this every day.
I have seven tips to bring mindfulness practices into your business
1. Lead by example
When introducing mindfulness practices into your business, be what you want others to become. Leading by example promotes authenticity in your values and allows others to be attracted to practice and value mindfulness.
2. Positive language
Words are powerful and cannot be taken back so take a moment to think about your choice of response in a meeting, to an email or phone call. This choice between reaction and action can make a huge difference to the culture of an organisation so take a moment to reflect and consider things from another person’s point of view before you respond. Wait until you are feeling calm and clear before communicating as there is nothing worse than responding to a workmate with negative emotions and paying the price later with regret, stress and anxiety
3. Don’t be a micromanager
Micromanagement can be a major contributor to workplace stress so be sure to give people space and time. Allowing employees time to manage their own mindset and to adopt mindfulness practices enables free thinking and enhances creativity.
4. Remember to breathe
Many people in the workplace are overstimulated and overloaded in a permanent stress response of fight or flight with short, shallow breaths. Taking deep, diaphragmatic breaths stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system which focuses on healing and repair and helps bring the autonomic nervous system back into balance. Taking the time to bring your awareness to breath also brings you into the present moment.
5. Notice the little things around you
When you’ve got a schedule that has back-to-back meetings, practising mindfulness throughout your day can make a difference. Focusing on your feet touching the ground as you walk between meeting rooms, noticing the temperature of the water as you take a drink or the flavour and texture of the food as it enters your mouth at lunchtime can help to shift your pace and bring you back to centre.
6. Block unscheduled time for yourself
Speed and a hectic schedule can trigger the stress response (fight or flight) and the best thing to encourage mindfulness is to slow down. Often the only way to ensure a slower pace in your workday is to block out time. This allows you to check in with yourself, breathe and process thoughts and emotions before you re-focus and move on to the next meeting or task.
7. Incorporate mindfulness into meetings
Take a few minutes at the beginning of a meeting to meditate, set intentions and take a few breaths. This enables the group to become settled and present with the group before bringing the focus to the topic of the meeting. It also puts mindfulness as a priority into the culture of an organisation.
Edwina Griffin, Health & High Performance Expert, energyevolution.com.au