Steve Jobs was known for his habit of walking around barefoot as a means of boosting his creativity while brainstorming or in meetings.  He jogged for the same reason.  These habits grew out of his exploration into Zen Buddhism earlier in life and his learning of mindfulness and meditation.  Speaking about the state of mindfulness Jobs noted, “That’s when your intuition starts to blossom and you start to see things more clearly and be in the present more.  Your mind just slows down, and you see a tremendous expanse in the moment. You see so much more than you could see before.”

Can mindfulness help us all be creative like Steve Jobs?  Maybe not, but an increasing number of employers are looking to mindfulness training as a means of helping employees cope with stress. And they’re doing that for good reason.

Stress in the workplace

As more demands are placed upon us – work harder, work longer, add more duties, financial worries, etc. – stress levels increase exponentially.  Chronic stress occurs when this pattern happens repeatedly without opportunities to relax and unwind.  Chronic stress can lead to anxiety, which is a sustained mental health condition that can precipitate or contribute to a number of serious physical health issues.

In our last blog post we described how nearly six in 10 American workers report anxiety was impacting their workplace performance. The economic effects of worker anxiety are huge, costing employers almost $35 billion from lost or reduced productivity.

Mindfulness explained

So, what is mindfulness and is it the missing piece in wellness as Employee Benefit News opined recently?

Merriam-Webster describes mindfulness as “The practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis.”  That definition conjures up mystical, meditative, out-there connotations that are a little difficult to grasp, let alone understand why we’re discussing these things in a business article.

Actually, mindfulness is not complicated, nor is it a mystical fad.  It’s a mainstream, teachable and helpful process.  According to Psychology Today, it can be simplified into three steps:

  1. Stop
  2. Breathe
  3. Think about your thinking

Psychology Today likens this process to staring at a photo or a painting. You decide what to look at, how long, what you think of the image, where you want to put your focus, etc. Similarly, this mindfulness technique can be used throughout your day to help you stay calm, focused, optimistic and kind.

Libby Rapin, a mindfulness and meditation coach, points out how mindfulness training helps employees build skills to manage stress, among other things. It encourages employees to be present in the moment and focus on one particular task at a time. “When we’re mindful,” Ms. Rapin said, “we’re doing the most valuable work because we’re focused.”

Mindfulness is not a new idea; it’s been around forever. But in today’s more stressful, unfocused world, it just might become the next big thing.

Mindfulness vs. Stress

What can more mindfulness – and less stress – mean to your company? According to Ms. Rapin, companies that implement mindfulness training can see a 200% ROI.

Of course, with healthier, happier employees comes lower healthcare costs, greater productivity, increased retention, improved employee engagement and much more.

How to Become More Mindful

At Espyr, we can assist employers in setting up mindfulness programs, as well as help teach mindfulness skills to employees. We have hosted a number of continuing education events for our staff and network on mindfulness and its value in today’s workforce, so we’re ready to help you, too.

For more information on mindfulness programsorhow Espyr can help your company deal with today’s complicated behavioral health issues, call 888-570-3479 or go to espyr.com.