With technology and the marketplace moving at a faster pace than ever, stress levels in the workplace are running high. When asked to name their biggest source of pressure in life, most respondents answered “job stress.” Employees cite their workload, interactions with co-workers and juggling work and personal issues as the top causes of work-related stress.
Mindfulness meditation forms a core of mental practice and well-being for many practitioners. It’s even making its way into corporate culture to help offset the effects of stress on health and productivity. How can mindfulness reduce workplace stress? Let’s begin with an overview.
A Simple, Potent Stress-Relief Tool with a Rich History
Meditation experienced a surge of interest in the 1960s and 70s with the TM (Transcendental Meditation) movement led by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (and advocated by The Beatles). However, mindfulness meditation has been practiced for many thousands of years, with roots in Buddhist and Vedic teachings and perhaps even older traditions.
At its core, mindfulness is the act of being still and watching your mind activity as it comes and goes. As you do, a “Watcher” dimension of yourself becomes stronger. This is the part of you that is independent of past and future and always anchored in the present moment.
An even more basic/introductory version of mindfulness practice is simply watching your breath as you inhale and exhale. This is an effective primer because it helps to move your awareness into the present moment and away from thought. Breathing always takes place in the present moment, and putting your awareness there can be very effective in reducing stressful mind chatter.
The benefits of mindfulness meditation in the workplace include:
Improved Stress Management
One of the biggest impediments to workplace productivity is stress. Mindfulness meditation has been shown in studies to decrease all of the markers of stress, including cardiovascular health issues, high blood pressure, anxiety, depression and the presence of the stress hormone cortisol.
Since stress is one of the primary causes of illness and disease, reduced stress levels mean that you are less likely to get sick. In the corporate culture, this translates into fewer missed days of work, lowered insurance premiums and a healthier workforce overall.
Enhanced Innovation and Creativity
Stress and mind chatter are also a major impediment to problem-solving and creative thinking. Mindfulness can help with settling down these inner distractions so that a higher level of innovation is possible.
Improved Wellness, Workplace Morale and Retention
Mindfulness practice also increases overall happiness and wellness levels. Happier employees tend to be more productive and pleasant to be around, which naturally raises morale in the workplace. In a more peaceful and Zen-like corporate culture, employees are more likely to keep working there and speak highly of the brand.
As you can see, mindfulness meditation supports health, wellness and a more successful workplace in numerous ways. It’s free to practice, and just 10 minutes per day has been shown to improve quality of life substantially. With all of these benefits, mindfulness meditation just could be one of your most critical and valuable business tools.