Mindfulness at work

By Aviva

It’s been the self-improvement buzz word since last year, but can it help in the workplace? 

Mindfulness at work

As ever-increasing levels of workplace stress drives up health expenditure and lowers staff productivity, the concept of mindfulness has taken centre stage. Aviva’s Jon Blackburn put five questions to Dr Cinzia Pezzolesi, Clinical Psychologist and Clinical Director of The Mindfulness Project, to build up an overview of mindfulness in the workplace

Jon Blackburn: Have you seen an increase in the number of businesses reporting issues around the mental wellbeing of their workforce?

Dr Cinzia Pezzolesi: Yes, mental health is as important as ever and many businesses these days are actively seeking help to remove the stigma around it. Recently, I have been involved in developing in-house 'mental health champions' to allow staff peer support, which is an enormous progression.

JB: What do you think are the main contributory factors for this?

CP: In the last few years stress levels have steadily increased and when a person is stressed they tend to cut out all the unnecessary things such as seeing friends, exercising and having leisure time.

A lack of pleasurable activities and withdrawal are linked to experiencing low mood and depression. With this in mind it is becoming more and more common to see a client because of stress and one year later to see the same person developing a depressive episode if the initial condition of stress was left untreated.

JB: How can mindfulness help with these issues?

CP: Mindfulness keeps our mind anchored to the present moment, so it stops the tendency to think about the past and ruminate on what went wrong or should have been different,

which is the main feature of depression. It also stops the mind from worrying about the future, such as thinking about what could go wrong and fearing what is coming next, which characterises anxiety.

Research has also shown that mindfulness develops resilience, so when we are feeling sad or unhappy we can bounce back more quickly and recover faster from a negative emotional state compared to a person who has never practiced mindfulness.

JB: Mindfulness is obviously a way of thinking and an approach to life that probably can’t be taught to someone within an hour or two. What key components of mindfulness can help improve communications within the workplace?

CP: True, it takes patience and practice to be mindful. However, we can plant a seed and see benefits in a short time.

In terms of communication, the most difficult thing is to really give the gift of our presence to our interlocutor. We often miss out what is being said because we are thinking about what to say next. Mindfulness helps us monitor this natural tendency to step ahead of the conversation and helps us truly listen and connect with the person we are speaking with.

JB: How does mindfulness reduce stress?

CP: Mindfulness promotes acceptance of the present moment experience, no matter how joyful or sad that is. When we are able to be OK with what life throws at us, we are no longer stressed because stress stems from wanting things to be different.

Also, when practicing mindfulness we focus on the body or breathing which is naturally relaxing and helps us feel grounded, away from the agitation of the mind.

 

For further information on the services provided by Dr Cinzia Pezzolesi, visit www.cinziapezzolesi.com

Sunday 25 June 2017
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