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Mindfulness at Work

As part of our “work and life balance” initiative, we are sharing knowledge, tools and advice about the conscious step of “putting people at the centre” and utilising them as your greatest asset in order to increase productivity and happiness in the workplace. Next up, in this context, we had a chat with Neil Morbey; Mindfulness Practitioner at Positively-Mindful.

There have been a number of neurological benefits linked to mindfulness that contribute towards our ability to communicate more effectively, thus allowing us to take control of our emotions, which is not only important in our personal lives, but to improve awareness in the workplace.

ADLIB: Let’s start with ‘Why’, how do you think mindfulness can help with workplace stress?

Neil Morbey:

People work most effectively when they have good focus, which requires a clear mind, in order to move the attention effectively from one task to the next, and with an overview of the whole purpose. This requires a balance of attention.

21st Century education and society has filled our waking moments with busyness of pinging smartphones, marketing, unreasonable expectations and endless information. The modern worker is lost in a world of confusion and therefore mentally creates stress – a mind full of ‘stuff’, instead of clarity, focus and balance. Anxiety, burn out and apathy are the inevitable result and businesses foot the bill for recovery.

Mindfulness is both preventative medicine and helps people to ‘hit reset’ when they’ve gotten themselves into a hole; to pause and reflect, connecting with what is simply beautiful – the experience of being here and now.

This is the beginning of awareness, acknowledgment and appreciation, which allows us to refocus, as a clear and balanced choice. The how is simple – make space for learning, practice and for integration of ‘moments’ within the fabric of the way we work and interact. Mindful communication quickly follows mindful self-awareness. Inspiration keeps it moving.

ADLIB: Can you share 3 pieces of wisdom or mindful exercises that one could introduce into their daily routine as an employee or as a manager?

Neil Morbey:

  1. Schedule a meeting with yourself. Let that be time to reflect, and set an intention on how you’d like to do that. Do this every day.
  2. Put pressure on management to create a darkened, comfortable and quiet room, with space to lie down, if possible. Or allowance for quiet time. Afternoon naps or mediation have been demonstrated to aid productivity. At the same time ask them to get CPDs from inspiring practitioners. Whatever interests staff – yoga, meditation, singing – whatever inspires and gives people space to ‘be’.
  3. Go outside every day, without your phone, and breathe in the fresh air deeply. Smokers have the advantage of this habit, but with the addition of toxic death-sticks. Just relabel them ‘fresh air’ breaks, instead of cigarette breaks. Better still go for a walk and notice the trees, the sky and something beautiful and stay with it a few seconds longer than feels ‘normal’.

I wrote a blog with a few more suggestions here.

ADLIB: In your opinion, how can mindfulness improve the way that people work?

Neil Morbey: It allows us to move our attention from one thing to another with more ease, and therefore let go of resentment and speak more assertively and compassionately. At the end of the day it allows us to shift modes and leave work at the office so we can balance our lives and manage our ‘human’ priorities. This will help us feel that work is not a chore, but a nourishing activity that is integrated with our lives. People who feel in control of their lives worry less and are more productive, with less passive aggression. It also opens us up to creative possibility. We become more positive in our outlook, which drives innovation and inspiration.

ADLIB: How can mindfulness be reinforced consistently in the workplace and be made a priority?

Neil Morbey: The leaders must first recognise the importance of mental health in their duty of care. However mindfulness cannot be forced on employees, it must be inspired. So I think the best way is to involve staff in the conversation so that they have permission to voice opinions and come up with options.

Regular refreshment of inspiration is key to keeping the practices fresh and ‘reminding us of why, and with new styles of ‘how’. No one wants to repeat the same stuff every single day. Ultimately every individual is responsible for themselves, but it usually takes a few to lead the way and create momentum.

If that’s you, reading this, I suggest practicing what Gandhi preached: Be the change you want to see in the world.

Be vocal about it and enjoy it. When others hear and see you you’ll be giving them permission to do it too, because you show it’s possible, fun and the risk is worth it. Encourage them and get the ball rolling. Leaders inspire the people around them. Be the change.

About Neil Morbey: Neil specialises in helping people become emotionally resilient and work with schools, businesses and individuals to facilitate people to find their sense of happiness, confidence and connection. More information via the positively-mindful website.