by Chelsey Newsom | 12 March 2018
Stress in the workplace is raising alarm bells within the corporate world with the growing number of people being off for work related stress. Workplace stress has become something of a national epidemic. In 2015/2016 it was estimated 450,000 individuals in the UK felt like they were suffering from stress in the workplace and this rose to 526,000 in 2016/2017 (hse.gov.uk). There were a total of 12.5 million days lost due to work related stress, depression or anxiety.
Stress within the workplace can be caused by a number of factors which include but not limited to;
- Status: feeling diminished in work
- Control: not feeling in control
- Support: lack of support from managers and colleagues
- Uncertainty: insecurity/worry or anger of not knowing what is going on in your place of work
- Demands of the job: information overload and processing overload
- Relationships at work: a failure to build relationships, feeling isolated
- Change: How change managed, is it managed effectively?
Mindfulness has been implemented within workplaces to try and eliminate such stresses from occurring. Mindfulness is a therapeutic technique and is defined in the dictionary as a “mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.”
Sellick Partnership’s legal team had the opportunity to attend a set of four mindfulness workshops with our Group Director Rob Gee who comes from a psychology background. Rob Gee delivered the workshops which included ‘mindfulness introduction’, ‘paying attention mindfully’, ‘enhancing your performance’ and ‘controlling your stress levels’. From this, we were asked to practice mindfulness in our day to day tasks and our working week. This could be anything from eating your food mindfully or making a phone call mindfully. In essence, it was to solely focus on the task at hand. We spend a significant amount of time processing millions of information and flicking from one task to another. By understanding and really focusing on the task at hand, it will ultimately result in a better outcome and also reduce your mind from tiring day to day. There are a number of formal and informal practices that we can implement, such as;
Breathing meditation: This is practiced in simple terms by three deep breaths and repeating for a set period of time (3-5 minutes). You can do this at your desk sitting down or in a dark room laying down. The aim is to reduce stress, anxiety and negative emotions but also sharpen your concentration skills. The breath is used to steady the mind and calm down the nervous system. Grounding the present moment and slowing down the heart rate.
This is the practice of bringing mindfulness into your daily lives; e.g. making tea mindfully or making a mindful phone call. The idea is to transfer the formal practices firmly into your daily life, making you fully aware of the task at hand and being present in the moment. Many of us have had an experience of driving somewhere and feel like you have done it automatically and not quite sure how you got there.
We used this exercise of informal practices when sitting at our desks before picking up the phone for a challenging call or before starting our working day to focus our mind.
- According to a number of studies, practicing mindfulness in the workplace has a number of benefits physically, emotionally and mentally. These include;
- Enhanced performance at work
- Enhanced emotional intelligence
- Improved memory
- Lower stress levels
- Improved decision making
Practicing mindfulness in the workplace is something that I would encourage everyone to do. It is not something that takes a lot of time and it is very simple to practice.
If you would like to discuss this topic in more detail please feel free to comment below. Alternatively, you can read blogs from my colleagues by following the link below.