What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is defined as a technique where one’s full awareness is focused on the thoughts, feelings, and sensations experienced in the present moment without judgement. Three further definitions based on insights published in Psychology Today include mindfulness as “letting go of taking things for granted”, “returning to the present moment”, and “the self-regulation of attention with an attitude of curiosity, openness, and acceptance.” Ultimately, there are many definitions of mindfulness depending on what source you turn to, and they primarily focus on your attention or awareness, the present moment, and acceptance or freedom from judgement.
How Does Mindfulness Impact Wellness at Work?
Practicing mindfulness, or taking a step further and teaching how to practice mindfulness can bring positive impacts to employees and employers. Employee benefits include stress reduction and increased focus. Employer benefits include reduced burnout, increased engagement, and improved health and the corresponding reductions in health care costs.
Studies on mindfulness and the impact on employees have shown decreased stress levels while at the same time increasing qualities associated with positive organizational behavior. A 2014 randomized, controlled study of employees from The Dow Chemical Company evaluated the impact of a 7 week online mindfulness program. They found reductions in perceived stress and burnout, and increases in mindfulness, resiliency, and vigor. Another randomized study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology in 2012 compared a control group with a group that performed a self-training including mindfulness meditation and informal daily exercises including a broad range of job types through several German cities. The study showed a reduction in emotional exhaustion and increase in job satisfaction after only 10 working days of self-training to mindfulness practices that were brief and designed to be integrated into daily work-life. Additional benefits of mindfulness and meditation which are backed by research have been summarized in Mindful.org and include enhanced self-confidence, and mindful supervisors resulting in higher employee job satisfaction and reduced emotional exhaustion.
There is strong evidence that investments from organizations into mindfulness programs for employees and/or leaders results in benefits to both employees and the organizations. Not every organization is currently investing in these programs, and it may be on the individual to explore or undertake his or her own mindfulness training and practice. If this is the case, there are several resources online that may be helpful to begin the mindfulness journey, which I will share here and will be following while continuing to search for additional resources.
How to Practice Mindfulness: The Ultimate Guide to Being More Mindful Throughout the Day
How to Practice Mindfulness according to mindful.org
Mindfulness Exercises from the Mayo Clinic
Five Simple Mindfulness Practices for People Who Hate to Meditate from Forbes
Constructive Rest Audio Guide from NYPosturePolice