Mindfulness as a tool in the modern-day workplace

Posted by: BeneFIT Corporate Wellness
Date: January 30, 2020

The workplace can have a huge impact on employees’ lives. We spend a lot of time there, important social interactions take place there, and work often figures into our psychological profiles (identity, self-confidence, self-efficacy, etc.). Therefore, when there is an imbalance – between job demands and an employee’s mental and physical resources – chronic stress and burnout can result. The American Institute of Stress reports that 83% of U.S. workers suffer from work-related stress, citing causes such as management, workload, and ineffective communication.*

A resource that is linked to greater coping ability is mindfulness. Various studies have shown that mindfulness was predictive of lower psychological distress. It was associated with lower levels of anxiety and depression, and higher levels of positive affect and life satisfaction. In a workplace setting, greater mindfulness was also linked to lower emotional exhaustion which is indicative of burnout.**

What Is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a universal human capacity to bring our full attention to the present moment with an attitude of curiosity, openness, and receptivity. Mindfulness involves letting go of worries or preconceived notions, so that life can be experienced with more awareness. Greater relaxation, ease, and joyfulness are common effects. Recognizing our common humanity, those who practice mindfulness are able to treat themselves and others with more compassion.

It’s easy to be mindful, but taking the time to stop and practice mindfulness takes practice. It can be practiced through meditation or simply practicing paying attention, moment by moment with curiosity. The fact that mindfulness is accessible to everyone, at every moment, makes it a highly worthwhile and functional tool for the modern workplace, regardless of the environment or situation in which an employee works.

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction at LVHN

Employers and employees have a great resource in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) at Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN). It’s an 8-week group program that teaches participants to practice mindfulness. Classes are co-facilitated by two trained teachers who create a safe group setting which supports learning from one another. Designed by Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center 40 years ago and extensively researched, this work has generated a body of literature in both scientific and popular publications which describes its many benefits.

“The program has been committed to this model for 18 years in the belief that this is the best way to provide cohesion, continuity, and trust in the classroom,” says Susan Wiley, MD, founder of the program. “While on-line classes are available, there is no substitute for the connection that occurs between participants and facilitators in the live-classroom setting. In hearing the voice of another we recognize our common humanity.”

About half of every 2 ½ hour class is spent learning and practicing mindfulness meditation. The practices include learning to pay attention to breath or body sensations while the body is still or in motion. There is also discussion about learning to recognize how each of us experiences stress and the relationship of stress to illness and behavior. Participants learn about their own patterns of reactivity and how, with mindfulness, they might chose to respond. Classroom discussion includes:

  • How to cultivate the awareness of physical sensations in the body
  • Meditation practices that improve focus and attention
  • How to recognize signs of stress and intervene earlier
  • How to change your relationship with stress, anxiety, chronic pain or illness
  • Strategies to improve confidence and self-esteem
  • Relaxation techniques

The program also includes a ½ day retreat on a Saturday which is an opportunity to practice everything participants have been learning.

LVHN’s Center for Mindfulness offers MBSR programs four times a year: Fall, winter, spring and summer. Visit https://www.lvhn.org/mindfulness-based-stress-reduction for more information and schedules.

Contact us at Populytics for information on additional employee well-being programs at [email protected] or 610.969.2972.


* https://www.stress.org/42-worrying-workplace-stress-statistics

** https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5836057/