Using mindfulness for increasing productivity

18.04.16

Mindfulness for increasing productivity

About a third of working Australians identify work as a source of stress, which is hardly surprising in today’s hyper-connected, ever-changing, globally competitive economy. With reports suggesting a trend of declining wellbeing in the workplace, a few minutes ‘time out’ to calm down and refocus during the work day may help to reverse this trend and bring benefits for your business too.

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a form of mind–body training that uses meditation, breathing and yoga techniques to help focus thoughts and feelings as they occur. This can help people manage their negative thoughts and experiences in a more constructive way, instead of being overwhelmed or crippled by them.

Benefits of mindfulness

While mindfulness may seem a bit spiritual and alternative to some people, there is growing research that firmly grounds it in modern, evidence-based medicine. When practised regularly, mindfulness appears to cause positive changes in the brain that can help:

  • Reduce stress
  • Increase resilience and peace of mind

improve

  • Concentration, memory and processing speed
  • Decision-making abilities
  • Creativity
  • Emotional reactions and the ability to empathise and show compassion
  • Relationships with others

And when mindfulness is combined with cognitive behavioural therapy, limited evidence suggests that it has benefits for people with managing diagnosed chronic mental health conditions.

It can be as simple as focus on slow breathing for an entire minute and nothing else.

Start a mindful movement in your workplace

Regular mindfulness practice may help reduce work-related stress, and improve job performance, productivity and work satisfaction. Mindfulness meditation is one way to encourage these health and wellbeing benefits in your workplace. It’s a simple, inexpensive activity that can be done without special equipment, and almost anywhere and anytime.

If this is something you want to introduce to your life or to your employees, consider the following:

  • Make use of the freely available resources listed below
  • Ensure employees have access to a quiet area, such as a wellness room or their own office, where they can be undisturbed for an appropriate period of time to sit comfortably and focusing on their breathing
  • Consider offering guided meditation sessions (e.g. during lunch time) with a qualified practitioner.

Helpful resources

  • Headspace app – meditation and mindfulness made simple, including a free, introductory ‘Take 10’ program. The government funded mental health organisation aimed at young people also runs sessions and courses on learning to be mindful at their local offices.
    headspace.com
  • Smiling Mind app – modern meditation for young people
    smilingmind.com.au
  • Mind the Bump – meditation to support mental and emotional wellbeing in preparation for having a baby and becoming a new parent
    mindthebump.org.au

Sources:

Black Dog Institute. Mindfulness in everyday life [Online; accessed Jun 2015] Available from: www.blackdoginstitute.org.au

Black DS O’Reilly GA Olmstead R et al. Mindfulness meditation and improvement in sleep quality and daytime impairment among older adults with sleep disturbances. A randomized clinical trial. JAMA Intern Med. 2015; 175(4): 494-501.

Congleton C, Hölzel BK, Lazar SW. Mindfulness can literally change your brain [Online] 2015 [Accessed June 2015] Available from: www.hbr.org

Goyal M Singh S Sibinga EMS et al. Meditation programs for psychological stress and well-being. A systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA Intern Med 2014; 174(3):357–368.

Jean Hailes for Women’s Health. Toolkit – Tool 8: relaxation and mindfulness benefits [Online; last updated Nov 2013; accessed June 2015] Available from: www.jeanhailes.org.au

Lovelock H Mathews R Murphy K. Evidence-based psychological interventions in the treatment of mental disorders: a literature review, third edition [Online] 2010 [Accessed June 2015] Available from: www.psychology.org.au

Mindfulness at Monash. What is mindfulness? [Online] 2012 [Accessed June 2015] Available from: monash.edu/counselling/mindfulness.html