Creating a culture of focus, resilience, and well-being benefits everyone in the workplace. With the stress of a high-paced environment, it’s easy for distractions to overwhelm employees, hindering productivity and reducing overall performance. This is where mindfulness can be a game-changer for leaders and their teams.
We’ve found that some leaders in the workplace feel uncomfortable with the concept of mindfulness. They view it as too esoteric or unproductive and don’t know how to incorporate it into their leadership style. But, studies show that mindfulness practices can lead to increased focus, reduced stress, and improved decision-making. Let us share with you how mindfulness can be a valuable asset within the workplace.
What is Mindfulness
Mindfulness does not have a one-size-fits-all approach. It is the practice of paying attention and being non-judgemental about what we are experiencing at any moment. It means being self-aware and willing to explore emotions, develop self-compassion, and connect with what our physical bodies are experiencing. Mindfulness is a way to extend kindness and empathy to ourselves and in turn to others.
There is no right or wrong way to practice mindfulness. In fact, it is something deeply personal for each person and how they choose to experience mindfulness is based on their own experiences. It requires practice to understand how you can best tune into yourself.
Some common mindfulness practices include breathing exercises, gentle movement, spending time listening to music, being out in nature, guided meditation, or journaling.
Many organizations create a quiet space where people can take a moment for themselves to step away from work and practice breathing exercises, stretching, listening to nature sounds, or relaxing music.
How to Integrate Mindfulness into the Workplace
We teach leaders to integrate mindfulness into the workplace as a way to prioritize employees and their well-being. It’s easy to reference the break room or lunch hour as the space and time allotted for employees to recenter, however, being intentional about mindfulness let leaders show their team members that they recognize those situations, meetings, and moments that might cause stress or overwhelm.
Leaders can model mindfulness in their own behavior by taking breaks throughout the day to practice deep breathing or mindful walking.
Mindfulness practices can also be incorporated into team meetings or daily work routines to educate employees on the importance of mindful communication and listening. As team members become more skilled at mindfulness practices there is a shift in team morale and energy. Often you may notice more positivity, self-awareness, empathy, and understanding.
Making Mindfulness Inclusive
When integrating mindfulness practices in the workplace, it's important to ensure that they are inclusive and accessible to everyone. This means considering the needs and preferences of all employees, including those with disabilities or different cultural backgrounds.
Leaders should ensure that mindfulness practices are secular and avoid cultural or religious references that may be exclusionary. It’s also recommended to provide resources and education on mindfulness practices and their benefits. Making participation voluntary is another way to support employees feeling comfortable and confident about mindfulness practices in their own time.
The Folke Institute’s Mindfulness Expert
Mindfulness is one of many leadership skills offered to organizations looking to transform their corporate culture. Debbie Graul, Instructional Designer and Trainer at The Folke Institute was instrumental in providing background for this blog. Debbie supports The Folke Institute with mindfulness training through a trauma-informed lens. Debbie shares practices in self-awareness, emotional intelligence, breath work, and mindful movements which can help manage stress and anxiety in everyday life.
We asked Debbie a few questions about how she incorporates mindfulness and how others can do the same. Here are her responses.
What advice would you give to leaders who are interested in integrating mindfulness into their organizations but are unsure where to start?
Leaders should first explore and develop their own personal practice with the support of a Mindfulness Coach or a company like The Folke Institute. It’s important that they feel comfortable sharing the challenges they have as they learn to be mindful. Managing stress in the workplace is important and this is a great way to lead by example.
How does nature factor into your own personal beliefs of mindfulness?
Nature keeps me in the present moment and out of my thoughts. When I am in nature the world seems to dissolve away. I become aware of the beauty around me and it brings me peace. Nature brings out the tiniest details and shows how everything is connected through sounds, smells, and different textures.
Throughout this blog, we’ve used images that you took as part of your travels and experience living internationally. What do these photos represent in relation to your professional practice?
Nature has been a part of my life since I was a child. It has always brought me peace. I believe my attention to detail in nature represents my relation to my professional practice.
It’s about noticing the details. That is what mindfulness is all about. Stopping the hustle and bustle and becoming self-aware of your emotions, sensations, and surroundings. It’s about remembering that there are pockets of peace within yourself that are beautiful spaces.
I have never altered any of the photos that I have taken. I guess you could say they represent practicing mindfulness. My hope is that what I see in nature you will see as well — that it brings pure beauty into your world.
How can organizations incorporate nature/imagery into their mindfulness practices?
Your environment has a huge effect on your health and happiness. Adding in natural elements, nature imagery or sounds is helpful to reduce stress. Some examples might be plants around the office, nature photography on display, or when practicing a listening pause during the day, playing nature sounds like the ocean or birds singing. Research proves that time with nature will improve the health and wellness of everyone in the workplace.
Let Us Help You Have a More Mindful Organization
Mindfulness is a powerful tool for enhancing workplace culture. Leaders who prioritize mindfulness are likely to see the positive impact it has on their organization. We can help you build mindfulness in your workplace.