Insurance · 5 November 2015

Mindfulness: Can it help your business?

Taking a short walk out of the office can help a great deal
Taking a short walk out of the office can help a great deal

What has mindfulness got to do with your business? This subject has been given a lot of attention over the last couple of years and you might be wondering if mindfulness can help you and your employees.

It is important to be aware that the type of mindfulness typically practiced in the western world is quite different from its Buddhist roots, having no spiritual implications. The purpose of mindfulness is to focus solely on the act of awareness and in doing so reduce stress. It doesn’t need to include meditation.

Stress could damage our emotional, mental and physical health, costs millions of pounds to UK businesses each year and can have a tremendous negative impact on our families. Mindfulness is just one of a number of tools that can help to deal with this challenging and difficult issue.

Many of us live busy lives, with work, caring for children or aging parents or both, school, commuting, health issues, and money worries filling our minds.

Perhaps you’ve had the experience of realising that you have finished your lunch at your desk without really tasting any of it because your mind was completely preoccupied with work.

You may also have fears about the future, and these worries and anxieties might keep you from enjoying the here and now. This could involve speculating about the future, or  believing that your happiness can only be secured by the achievement of some future situation or event.

The noise of our unfocused thoughts can drown out the purpose of doing something, and an over abundance of facts and distractions can cause confusion and hinder our ability to make good business decisions.

Our ability to think about something, to step back and observe gives us the opportunity to reflect on and process information. In business this helps us to make better decisions that are well thought through and considered.

Sometimes when things get overwhelming, a sympathetic ear maybe is all that is needed. You might consider taking out company healthcare insurance for your staff.

Being mindful means learning to live in the present. This means being more fully aware of what is around you – what you can see, hear, touch and taste. It’s also about being aware of your thoughts and feelings as they are happening. People often find mindfulness harder to do than it sounds. But once you’ve learnt the basic techniques, you can use them whenever you need to calm yourself or refocus your energy and attention.

There are many ways in which you can improve your wellbeing by making small changes. Taking a mindful approach to everyday tasks can promote a positive mind set, particularly if you struggle with your thoughts and feelings.

Learning to live in the present is one of the key elements of positive mindfulness. This means being more fully aware of what is around you – what you can see, hear, touch and taste. It’s also about being aware of your thoughts and feelings as they are happening. People often find mindfulness harder to do than it sounds. By learning living in the present you can refocus your energy and attention to what you can control.

Look at ways you and your staff can incorporate exercise in your day, perhaps a brisk walk or a running or cycling club. Exercise can have a positive effect on the way you think and how you handle your feelings. It can relieve stress and can improve your mood, give you a sense of achievement and help you to release tension.

It is good to be aware of your limits – sometimes we can all take on too much without realising it. It is important to have some down time. By accepting that we all have limits you can manage your time better. All this can make you feel more in control and more positive.

Mindfulness meditation enables you to deal with thoughts and emotions in everyday life in a more balanced way. When practiced regularly, it can help improve your health and wellbeing.

There is a plethora of information available about mindfulness, but simply taking a few easy steps can make a noticeable difference to you and your staff.

These are only a few ideas. Perhaps you might want to develop some ideas of your own with your employees, which better suit you all.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Hunter Ruthven was previously editor of Business Advice. He was also the editor of Real Business, the UK's most-read website for entrepreneurs and business leaders at the helm of growing SMEs.

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