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The WHO Declares ‘Workplace Burnout’ a Disease. The Cure? Mindfulness

Burnout at work is now at a national crisis level. The World Health Organization recently classified “workplace burnout” as a disease. Employers are searching for ways to decrease stress while increasing productivity and positivity.

For many people, the workplace can be stressful and an unpleasant place to spend their days. Much time spent at the office is considered a necessity for making a living.

Today, workplaces are striving to become more than just a place to put in one’s time, and instead become places to enjoy. One solution is that many workplaces are introducing mindfulness, and it’s changing how people work together and improves the work environment too.

If you can communicate with your fellow workers or boss mindfully and thoughtfully, it encourages you to be more focused and productive, which is exactly what mindfulness does. It teaches you how to be present in the moment, with total awareness, and to bring the very best of yourself to work. When you make an effort to do this, you decrease stress, increase productivity and efficiency, and form a better connection with your co-workers.

Making simple mindfulness tools available in your business can help employees become more present and aware of their environment and the people they work with. Teaching mindfulness will raise the overall level of consciousness of your workplace.

Here are some mindfulness tools you can use in the workplace, to transform it into a place of positivity and productivity:

1. Start each day by practicing mindfulness. Begin with a simple breathing exercise, which will help with grounding and focus. A very simple mindfulness breathing exercise is:

On the inhalation, (silently) count 1,2,3,4 (1)

On the exhalation, count 1,2,3,4 (2) 

On the inhalation, count 1,2,3,4 (3) 

On the exhalation, count 1,2,3,4 (4) 

Encourage your workers to do this at any time of the day when they may feel stressed or overwhelmed.

2. Practice “noting.” Along with mindfulness, noting is a practice that helps employees become aware of what they’re feeling or experiencing during their workday. Noting means “noticing” or “paying particular attention” to something. When a fellow employee or your boss does something that may annoy you, don’t react to it. Simply note what you are feeling and stay present with it. Be aware of how you feel, and note it silently, breathe through it, or tell yourself something like: “I’m irritated or annoyed right now and don’t have to react to this;” or “I can tell my fellow worker or boss how I feel another time when I’m not as affected by my emotions.” 

Noting is useful for self-regulation and practicing how not to react, but it can also be used for basic tasks such as noticing how it feels when you’re drinking a cup of coffee while you work. Feeling the warmth of a drink, or becoming aware of its smell and taste can help to ground you and make you feel less stressed.    

3. Pause during your workday. Many workplaces are busy non-stop, and have meetings back-to-back, causing employees to feel they can’t take a moment to breathe or take a break. Find your moment of pause among the busyness. This means taking a conscious breath and connecting to your inner core or place of inner calm. This can be your belly or your heart. You will get better at this the more you practice.

4. Bring Mindfulness into the conversation. Don’t be hesitant or afraid to speak about mindfulness with your fellow workers. Everyone can use a friendly reminder to practice it in the workplace, and if you or one of your co-workers starts experiencing signs of stress or lack of focus, share a mindfulness tip with them. Gently suggest taking a break or using the counting breath exercise. Not only will they appreciate the reminder but a de-stressed co-worker may become your new ally at work.

Mindfulness is the perfect tool to help businesses run smoothly and effectively. By raising consciousness in the workplace, it becomes a more effective environment where greater success can be achieved on many levels.

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