“I’ve had a mindful…” – Is it time to give our minds a break?

We all lead busy lives and as the world changes around us, we have become more conscious about our health. The media and wearable technology mean that we now recognise the importance of looking after our bodies by focusing on what we eat, how we exercise and how we might look to change our lifestyles to ensure that we be the best we can be.

The world of work is getting busier and with digital technology, we are seeing more and more interruptions in our busy lifestyles. Mobile apps break up our work patterns with constant notifications and we now have watches and gadgets that can tell us how many steps we have taken, what our heart rates are and how quickly we can exercise. Some of this is good, but some of it also adds to our stress levels in the workplace when, despite all these added distractions, we still have a list of work to do.

Which is why there is more and more of a push for business leaders to start considering mindfulness in the workplace for themselves and their employees.

What is mindfulness?

The mental health charity, Mind, defines it as, “a technique which can help people manage their mental health or simply gain more enjoyment from life. It involves making a special effort to give your full attention to what is happening in the present moment…”

In terms of your work life, mindfulness is important to relieve stress and increase happiness, and it also relates to the idea that you can take a short break from your work to focus the mind and make better decisions which will positively impact the business. Research suggests that by practising mindfulness you should be able “to decrease the parts of the brain responsible for fight or flight and knee-jerk reactions while increasing activity in the part of the brain responsible for what’s termed our executive functioning.” [1]

Mindfulness in RWA

We encourage all of our people to take regular breaks and to consider mindfulness and this can be as simple as suggesting employees take a few moments, obtain a second opinion or even to ‘sleep on it’ before sending difficult emails.

Mindfulness also gives us the opportunity to look after our minds just as we might look after our bodies.

Recently, we have arranged for a weekly yoga & mindfulness session to take place at our offices during a lunch break and I’ve enjoyed taking part, too. It’s a 30-minute session away from our desks and we benefit from not only improving our posture and stretching out the kinks from desk-based work, but it also teaches the team about mindfulness and approaching our daily roles differently.

I conducted a short Doopoll for those who take part to measure the impact the sessions are having:

 

 

The responses show that implementing a mindfulness session once a week is having a positive impact on our office-based employees and I was keen to add some context to this to better understand the value in more detail. Speaking to Hazel from our e-Learning team, she adds, “In the last Yoga session we focused a lot on mindfulness and what it means. We learnt how mindfulness is not only living in the present moment but it’s also the practice of not letting our mind worry about what may or may not happen. This can waste energy and affect performance in everything we do. We were given some exercises to help practice our mindfulness and help us focus on the here and now. I really feel that it has helped my outlook on situations and the challenges that I face, and it has given me the confidence to tackle anything.”

For us, it seems, taking mindfulness seriously is good for our people and therefore good for our business.

[1] https://hbr.org/2017/01/spending-10-minutes-a-day-on-mindfulness-subtly-changes-the-way-you-react-to-everything

About the author

Tom is a Director at RWA. He has built a team of professionals that continue to deliver outstanding service and develop innovative solutions for our clients. Passionate about change and developing sustainable futures, Tom is a transformational leader who was a winner at the Leading Wales Awards in 2014 and in the same year received a Distinction from Cardiff Metropolitan University for his Post Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Leadership. As well as his work leading the RWA team, Tom continues to work in the local Welsh community helping business start-ups, charities and enterprise facilitation initiatives.

Tom Wood

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