How To Bring Mindfulness Into Your Employee Wellness Program

Author

Alan Kohll

November 30, 2016

You have probably heard the term “mindfulness” come up in the workplace recently. It’s one of the easiest—and cheapest—ways to help your employees become healthier and happier.

Why is mindfulness so popular? Every single person at your office has experienced stress or anxiety at some point in their lives, but not everyone knows how to deal with or cope with stress effectively. Mindfulness can be used as a preventive measure for stress, anxiety and difficulties with concentration. It also works to maintain and boost emotional wellness and awareness.

Mindfulness Explained

By dictionary definition, mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations—used as a therapeutic technique. Mindfulness does not involve any evaluation, interpretation or judgment. In other words, mindfulness is awareness of perception that focuses on “being” rather than “doing.”

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Mindfulness allows us to block automatic and compulsory thoughts that can cause worry, stress or distraction. By focusing on the task at hand or present state of mind, these negative or distracting thoughts can be cleared away. When mastered, mindfulness creates a sense of control over conscious thoughts, behaviors and attitudes. We become mindful of what we are feeling and how we are acting.

Any activity at any time or place can be done with mindfulness. Examples of activities that can incorporate mindfulness are unlimited—for example, exercising, creating art, playing an instrument, working or cleaning. Once mindfulness is learned and executed, it can truly be used in any situation to help boost concentration and identify emotional needs or feelings.

Benefits Of Practicing Mindfulness

With the increase in popularity, mindfulness finally has numbers to back its effectiveness. Although mindfulness is certainly not a new concept, studies have only recently demonstrated the benefits to employees’ well-being.

Aetna took the lead with implementing mindfulness-based wellness programs, and their recent success was published in The Atlantic. Since implementing mindfulness-based wellness programs, Aetna has estimated a savings of about $2,000 in health care costs and has gained about $3,000 per employee in productivity.

Mindfulness should be cultivated for not only the purpose of saving money in health care costs and productivity but to help reduce or prevent an unhealthy mentality in employees. A 2016 study found that employees who received a weekly two-hour training course on mindfulness over an eight-week period showed improvement in several different areas, including satisfaction of life and hope, along with reduced anxiety. Findings from this study also showed that these employees displayed higher levels of concentration on work, as well as improved interpersonal relationships.

Try Mindfulness For Yourself

Whether it’s at home, on vacation or during the workday, mindfulness can be implemented in several different ways. Here are a few simple ways to make sure you achieve mindfulness to increase your positive thoughts, actions and behaviors:

• Meditation. Mindfulness is essentially the main framework behind any form of meditation, and there are many to choose from. Some include clearing your thoughts completely, while others involve being mindful of any thoughts or feelings that are present. If you are new to meditation, do some research to find which types of meditation you would feel most comfortable trying or starting out with. Meditation can be done alone, with an instructor or in a group setting. There are also some great apps that can help you relax.

• Yoga. In addition to being an effective way to build physical strength, yoga is a good way to build mental strength. Similar to meditation, yoga is an enjoyable way to practice mindfulness. If you have already been practicing yoga, you may not be aware that you have also been practicing mindfulness, especially if you have ever focused on breath awareness. If you have never done yoga before, don’t be afraid to give it a try. Yoga is great for anyone, regardless of age or physical ability.

• Breathing exercises. This is a simple technique that can be done anywhere, including your desk! Breathing exercises take just a few minutes and can reduce stress and sharpen concentration. There are many resources available online if you need help getting started on simple breathing techniques.

• Wake up on the “right” side of the bed. Starting your day off by practicing mindfulness will help you tremendously. There’s no doubt that a bad morning will ultimately lead to a bad day. Mindful recently published great tips on mindful things to do to start your day. Keep yourself as stress-free as possible when starting your day so that nothing negative spreads to your office, colleagues or interpersonal relationships.

Looking To Implement Mindfulness At Your Company?

If you are an employer looking to incorporate some mindfulness practices into your employees’ workday, good for you! However, it can be tricky to figure out where to start if you don’t have much experience. Here are a few tips on how to implement mindfulness at your workplace:

• Educate. Although mindfulness is a trendy topic at the moment, it still remains a foreign subject to a lot of people. Make sure to educate your staff on what mindfulness is and what it means to practice it. Introduce mindfulness in a meeting and share facts and research on its benefits. Show that you practice mindfulness yourself and include ideas for simple ways to try mindfulness. Encourage employees to share positive experiences about any mindful behaviors.

• Offer classes. Since mindfulness is a relatively new concept for many, try offering beginner sessions in or outside of your company for employees. Although mindfulness is not necessarily difficult to achieve or practice, it can be hard for beginners to know where to start. Company-sponsored classes on mindfulness, meditation or yoga can be an excellent jumping off point.

• Practice in the office. Mindfulness can be practiced anywhere, including cubicles, desks and meetings. Try out some mindfulness activities at a meeting or staff outing to get employees engaged. Incorporate simple breathing techniques or beginner yoga poses and have employees try these at the end or beginning of a meeting.

Mindfulness is a step in the right direction when it comes to bringing a more holistic approach to your employee wellness program. Emotional and mental wellness have a huge impact on the well-being of your team. With a healthy mindset, it is easier to perform and concentrate during the workday. Try out mindfulness for yourself and challenge your wellness team to think of ways to bring mindfulness to all your employees.

 

This article was written by Alan Kohll from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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