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A guide to practicing mindfulness in the workplace

6th May 2019 Print

Employees are subjected to constant cycles of chaos and stress at work that are not only making us less productive but also impacting our health, both physically and mentally. In recent years, the topic of mindfulness has become more mainstream and has even infiltrated the workplace, with more and more companies taking notice. Big brands like Google and Nike even offer relaxation rooms to their staff for at-work meditation. But what is mindfulness and how can HR take note to improve the work environment for their staff?

Why Does Mindfulness Matter for Businesses?

Briefly put, mindfulness is all about focusing on the present moment – it means trying to remove the worries of the past or future and focusing solely on what is happening right at that very second of time. Researchers believe that mindfulness can improve creativity, help reduce stress and anxiety, and even increase productivity. Plus, there’s no need to take time out of your day to practice because you can work on it while you’re doing other things. 

Studies have shown that mindfulness can help us to become more self-confident in our abilities and skills. It can also help us to cope with the mental and emotional stress of our workplace, whether it’s in the form of the tasks we’re assigned or the people we work with. People who practice mindfulness find that they are better-equipped to deal with stressful situations or overbearing colleagues, without succumbing to frustration as easily as they once would have. 

This calming technique helps people to have a clearer thought process and improves energy, making employees more motivated and energetic when they’re at work. Whatever the role is, from recruitment or marketing to IT professionals, mindfulness can be extremely useful for all positions and industries. Here are some tips on how to incorporate mindfulness techniques into your working day. 

Strive to Be Consciously Present

With mindfulness, the goal is to avoid (as much as possible) just plodding through your day unconsciously. When we’re present, we’re much more focused and able to make clearer decisions based on what is going on around us. So, at work, this translates into giving each task you’re assigned your full attention. If you notice your mind wandering to what you’re having for dinner or that meeting you had last week, bring your focus back to the task at hand again, and repeat this as often as necessary. Mindfulness isn’t about trying to suppress the thoughts you’re having or removing them entirely – it’s simply about acknowledging the thought and then bringing your attention back to whatever you’re doing in the moment. 

Slow Down in Order to Work Faster

On the surface of things, being mindful in the workplace might seem a little counter-intuitive. But actually, by slowing things down and being more conscious of how you use your time, you actually become more productive, efficient and happier which, in turn, makes you more motivated to work. Take this example – if you were asked to ditch sleep for an entire week and then continue working, you’d struggle to remain focused and clear-headed. Mindfulness is like a rest period for the mind. It allows you to lower your stress levels and function more effectively, as well as increasing your ability to learn new skills and communicate more clearly – all critical for success in the workplace. 

Ignore What You Can’t Change

For many of us, stress and worry stem from overthinking things that have either already happened or what we fear will happen in the future. But at the root of these worries is a simple fact: you can’t change what has happened and you can only plan so much for the future, leaving us with one option – accepting the present moment as it is. This mindfulness tactic is especially useful at work as it means that instead of worrying about mistakes you’ve made in the past or things you’re nervous for in the future, you can simply accept where you are right now and deal with the situations you have control over. 

A lack of acceptance is ultimately denial of a fact – perhaps you’re in denial about going massively over budget on a project or you’re avoiding a meeting with a senior manager because you’re worried about what they might say. Instead, accept what you know to be a fact (rather than what you assume to be the case) and deal with those situations as and when they arise. It will make you calmer, happier and more resilient at work, plus leave you more time for thinking about the reality of a situation rather than your expectations. 

Do One Task at a Time

While many organisations and work cultures breed the concept of multitasking as being a useful skill, the fact is that single-tasking is much better for our stress levels. Instead of switching between multiple projects and tasks at any given moment, try focusing just on completing one task before moving on to something else. Not only will you be calmer and more efficient, but it also means you can devote 100% of your focus to the task at hand, which will increase productivity over the course of the day.


Over time, mindfulness can be extremely useful in helping to limit anxiety, keep stress at bay and help employees develop healthier workplace habits. It’s not about organising meditation sessions or taking hourly chunks out of the day for silence, but more about finding ways to incorporate awareness into everyday tasks. 

As a company, there are several questions that it can be useful for business owners and HR teams to consider, such as whether performance processes are inclusive of unrealistic goals that are causing staff to become stressed, or whether reward policies exclusively target the quantity over quality of work. The answers to questions like this can help businesses learn whether they’re asking too much of their employees and encouraging unhealthy work habits that are impacting the mental and physical health of their staff.