Now with the added challenges and change to our lives brought on by COVID-19, it’s even more important that we can all access tools to support our mental wellbeing.
In fact, 55% of candidates say the pandemic has made them more aware of their own mental health, and 39% say their mental health has been impacted by COVID-19.
Mindfulness is one technique that can be used to support mental wellbeing. And as a manager or leader, there are ways you can support and encourage your employees to take on mindful practices.
Dr Melissa Marot, coaching psychologist at The Mind Room, has four tips to help you.
- Understand what mindfulness techniques are available
Mindfulness is a way to focus the mind on awareness in the present moment. And there are many ways to bring it into a daily routine – through dedicated practice or simple, smaller moments.
“Formal practices of mindfulness are meditation or visualisations where you might sit quietly for a while and engage with a practice. This can be very useful. Informal practices are the more practical everyday applications of mindfulness or ‘mindfulness in action’, such as mindful walking or eating,” says Marot.
Simple, informal techniques can be a good starting point for many people, especially those who are time poor or might be sceptical.
Marot explains how to do this: “Keep your mind focused on your selected activity by using your senses (sight, touch, smell) and anchor to the present moment ¬– activities can be as straightforward as sorting out the stationery cupboard, walking to the printer, eating lunch or drinking your morning coffee. It’s important that they are activities away from the computer and involve physical movement. You can aim for at least five minutes of daily practice in this way.”
- Introduce it with an open mind
Marot says that for anyone new to the practice of mindfulness, the key is to have a curious, open-minded attitude. She discourages any organisation making meditation sessions or mindfulness workshops mandatory.
“Some people will find it easier to approach formal practices, such as meditation, and others the more informal everyday activities of mindfulness. Be open-minded that some people will love it; others will find it's not their cup of tea. Both are OK.”
- Offer it as a stress management tool
“One of the important aspects of mindfulness is that it can help you 'unhook' from your thoughts and feelings, disengage from and let go of them, and not get carried away by them,” says Marot.
To support mindfulness in the workplace, have resources available for employees who are interested, such as apps, websites, books and classes, that they can access in their own time. You could also get an expert to facilitate a lunchtime session and generally build a culture of mindfulness. One way to do this could be to give time out for employees so that they can practice mindfulness, even for 5–10 minutes at a time during the day.
- Practice what you preach
Taking on mindfulness techniques yourself could be the best way to understand its benefits and better support your team with it. In adopting a mindful practice, you might begin to see benefits in your own work and life.
“Research has shown that being more mindful is associated with a number of things, such as better decision-making, sleep quality, coping, decision-making, optimism, flow experience and empathy, which all have a clear impact on one's personal and professional life,” says Marot.
Supporting mental wellbeing is especially important now, and mindfulness is one technique that’s simple, adaptable and can lead to real positives. Approaching mindfulness with curiosity can help you to understand the benefits for yourself, and find ways to support your team in bringing it into their daily routines.
Source: Independent research conducted by Nature on behalf of SEEK, interviewing 4000 Kiwis annually. Published October 2020.