Work Better with Mindfulness

Work Better with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“mindfulness—the objective observation of whatever is occurring—is a core capability at the foundation of a successful, fulfilling career, and of optimal performance in anything that we do. When you apply mindfulness to work, you give those efforts meaning and become more engaged, more attuned.” –  George Pitagorsky

 

Work is very important for our health and well-being. We spend approximately 25% of our adult lives at work. How we spend that time is immensely important for our psychological and physical health. Indeed, the work environment has even become an important part of our social lives, with friendships and leisure time activities often attached to the work environment. But, more than half of employees in the U.S. and nearly 2/3 worldwide are unhappy at work. This is partially due to work-related stress which is epidemic in the western workplace. Almost two thirds of workers reporting high levels of stress at work. This stress can result in impaired health and can result in burnout; producing fatigue, cynicism, and professional inefficacy.

 

To help overcome unhappiness, stress, and burnoutmindfulness practices have been implemented in the workplace. Indeed, mindfulness practices have been shown to markedly reduce the physiological and psychological responses to stress. As a result, it has become very trendy for business to incorporate meditation into the workday to help improve employee well-being, health, and productivity. For example, Google offers “Search Inside Yourself” classes to teach mindfulness at work. But, although there is a lot of anecdotal evidence of meditation improving well-being and work performance, there is actually very little systematic research on its effectiveness.

 

In today’s Research News article “Being While Doing: An Inductive Model of Mindfulness at Work.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5318448/, Lyddy and Good hypothesize that much of work behavior is simply “Doing,” often mindlessly, while mindfulness training produces a state they label “Being while Doing.” Further they hypothesized that “Being while Doing” Would produce better performance and more positive feelings about work than just “Doing.” They conducted structured interviews of working professionals who also engaged in mindfulness practice. The interviews explored “how individuals experienced their own workplace functioning while mindful and not mindful.”

 

They analyzed the transcripts of the interviews and described that individuals can be mindful at work, yet remaining mindful in the work environment can be very difficult. They describe two major patterns that the workers’ reports indicated, entanglement and disentanglement. Entanglement involves mindless “Doing” without “Being” while disentanglement involves “Being” while “Doing.”

 

The participants reported that entanglement resulted in poorer work performance which they felt poorly and regretful about. E.g.

Usually my non-mindfulness is … taking the action that I shouldn’t have taken, rather than not having taken an action that I should have taken. … The boss said something about something he wanted differently. And he said ‘I’m not trying to get on your case or anything.’ And I said ‘yes you were!’ I should not have said that! … He was right … It was not real cool. … These words just flew out of my mouth that I shouldn’t have spoken.”

On the other hand, they reported that entanglement resulted in better work performance and a state of good feeling satisfaction. E.g.

Meeting with [a client], … I’m criticizing myself, … ‘you’re not being helpful with this client.’ … I was aware, … I recognized that. … It helped me then to be confident. … I proposed a concrete intervention that I think she felt was helpful, whereas before I had been … timid and passive. … Being aware that I was feeling this insecurity … helped me to take the risk. … [Mindfulness supported this by] … being aware of [my insecurity] in the moment.”

 

These results suggest that, although difficult, “Being while Doing” at work is possible and enhances job performance by making the individual more aware of their own state and reactions, allowing for course corrections. It is difficult to remain in this state as the work environment presents a myriad of distractions promoting mindless “Doing.” The participants reported that more meditation practice was one way to promote being able to stay in or transition to “Being while Doing.”

 

So, work better with mindfulness.

 

“Mindfulness is, above all, about being aware and awake rather than operating unconsciously. When you’re consciously present at work, you’re aware of two aspects of your moment-to-moment experience—what’s going on around you and what’s going on within you. To be mindful at work means to be consciously present in what you’re doing, while you’re doing it, as well as managing your mental and emotional state.” – Shamash Alidina

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Lyddy, C. J., & Good, D. J. (2016). Being While Doing: An Inductive Model of Mindfulness at Work. Frontiers in Psychology, 7, 2060. http://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2016.02060

 

Abstract

Mindfulness at work has drawn growing interest as empirical evidence increasingly supports its positive workplace impacts. Yet theory also suggests that mindfulness is a cognitive mode of “Being” that may be incompatible with the cognitive mode of “Doing” that undergirds workplace functioning. Therefore, mindfulness at work has been theorized as “being while doing,” but little is known regarding how people experience these two modes in combination, nor the influences or outcomes of this interaction. Drawing on a sample of 39 semi-structured interviews, this study explores how professionals experience being mindful at work. The relationship between Being and Doing modes demonstrated changing compatibility across individuals and experience, with two basic types of experiences and three types of transitions. We labeled experiences when informants were unable to activate Being mode while engaging Doing mode as Entanglement, and those when informants reported simultaneous co-activation of Being and Doing modes as Disentanglement. This combination was a valuable resource for offsetting important limitations of the typical reliance on the Doing cognitive mode. Overall our results have yielded an inductive model of mindfulness at work, with the core experience, outcomes, and antecedent factors unified into one system that may inform future research and practice.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5318448/

Mindfulness Decreases the Impact of Abusive Supervision at Work

Mindfulness Decreases the Impact of Abusive Supervision at Work

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindfulness has stopped many workplace snafus from happening in the first place. Once the mind is calm, a resolution can be reached.”Diane Dye Hansen

 

Work is very important for our health and well-being. We spend approximately 25% of our adult lives at work. How we spend that time is immensely important for our psychological and physical health. Indeed, the work environment has even become an important part of our social lives, with friendships and leisure time activities often attached to the work environment. But, more than half of employees in the U.S. and nearly 2/3 worldwide are unhappy at work. This is partially due to work-related stress which is epidemic in the western workplace. Almost two thirds of workers reporting high levels of stress at work. This stress can result in impaired health and can result in burnout; producing fatigue, cynicism, and professional inefficacy.

 

To help overcome unhappiness, stress, and burnoutmindfulness practices have been implemented in the workplace. Indeed, mindfulness practices have been shown to markedly reduce the physiological and psychological responses to stress. As a result, it has become very trendy for business to incorporate meditation into the workday to help improve employee well-being, health, and productivity. For example, Google offers “Search Inside Yourself” classes to teach mindfulness at work. But, although there is a lot of anecdotal evidence of meditation improving well-being and work performance, there is actually very little systematic research on mindfulness’ effectiveness at work. In addition, there is no information on the effectiveness of mindfulness to help overcome the effects of a hostile work environment.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Buffering Effect of Mindfulness on Abusive Supervision and Creative Performance: A Social Cognitive Framework.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at: http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01588/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_398354_69_Psycho_20170921_arts_A, Zheng and Liu recruited employees and managers from an electronics manufacturer. They had them complete measures of abusive supervision, mindfulness, self-efficacy. The supervisors also rated them for their levels of creative performance at work.

 

They found, as expected, that the higher the level of abusive supervision, the lower the level of self-efficacy and creativity and the higher the level of self-efficacy the greater the level of creativity. Further, they found that employees who were low in mindfulness were severely impacted by abusive supervision by showing significantly lower levels of creativity and self-efficacy when they were subjected to high levels of abusive supervision. On the other hand, when mindfulness was high abusive supervision had no significant effect on either creativity or self-efficacy. Hence, mindfulness appeared to buffer the employees from the negative impact of abusive supervision.

 

This is a correlational study, so causation cannot be conclusively concluded. But, the relationships are clear. Mindfulness is associated with an improved ability to function effectively regardless of the supervisory methods used. This may result from the ability of mindfulness to improve the individual’s physical and psychological responses to stress. In this way, mindful individuals do not react to the stress imposed by an abusive manager and thereby their performance is unaffected. It is also possible that the ability of mindfulness to increase the individual’s ability to respond to and regulate their emotions. As a result, they are able to cope with the negative emotions produced by abusive supervision and can be productive nonetheless.

 

So, decreases the impact of abusive supervision at work with mindfulness.

 

“Blunting the harm of a workplace stressor like abusive supervision may unwittingly promote acceptance of mistreatment, potentially interfering with adaptive responses, such as proactively addressing supervisor conflicts and behavior, filing a grievance, or changing jobs. So while mindfulness may leave individuals less affected by negative work events, an open question is whether it coincides with passivity, allowing unhealthy patterns to continue unchecked.” – Darren Good

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Zheng X and Liu X (2017) The Buffering Effect of Mindfulness on Abusive Supervision and Creative Performance: A Social Cognitive Framework. Front. Psychol. 8:1588. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01588

 

Our research draws upon social cognitive theory and incorporates a regulatory approach to investigate whyand when abusive supervision influences employee creative performance. The analyses of data from multiple time points and multiple sources reveal that abusive supervision hampers employee self-efficacy at work, which in turn impairs employee creative performance. Further, employee mindfulness buffers the negative effects of abusive supervision on employee self-efficacy at work as well as the indirect effects of abusive supervision on employee creative performance. Our findings have implications for both theory and practice. Limitations and directions for future research are also discussed.

http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01588/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_398354_69_Psycho_20170921_arts_A

Improve Workaholism with Meditation

Improve Workaholism with Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“mindfulness is most impactful when it is a way of being that is seamlessly interwoven into daily life, rather than simply a standalone practice. Although it may seem difficult to abandon our attachment to electronic devices and ditch the urge to work nonstop, the space that we create for living, loving, and interacting with the world is by far worth the effort.” – Grace Bullock

 

In western culture working hard is encouraged. But, it should not become an addiction. Work, like many good things can be overdone and become damaging to productivity and the individual’s psychological and physical health and well-being. We refer to work addiction as workaholism. It has been estimated that over 10 million Americans work in excess of 60 hours per week and even though the average American receives 13 paid vacation days per year over a third do not take a single day of vacation and when they do, 30% report feeling constantly worried about work while on vacation. Most bring laptops and cell phones with them to work while on vacation. Workaholics say that they have to rush through their day to accomplish all that they want to and at the end of the day they feel that they didn’t accomplish all that they could. This overwork spills over into family life where workaholic marriages are much more likely than average to fail, with a 55% divorce rate.

 

The treatments for workaholism generally resemble treatments for other addictions. Mindfulness training has been shown to be helpful in treating addition and preventing relapse. Mindfulness has also been shown to be effective for treating and preventing burnout at work. But, to my knowledge there have not been published research studies on the application of mindfulness training for the treatment of workaholism. This was, however, addressed in today’s Research News article “Meditation awareness training for the treatment of workaholism: A controlled trial.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5520118/, Van Gordon and colleagues recruited full-time male and female workers (mean age of 39 years) who scored high on a workaholism scale and created meditation training and wait-list control groups matched on sex, age, education level, salary, and employment type. The meditation training consisted of 2-hour meditation workshops once a week for 8 weeks and guided meditation CDs to continue practice at home. They were measured before and after training for workaholism, job satisfaction, work performance, anxiety, depression, stress, and hours of work per week both at work and at home.

 

They found that the meditation group, compared to baseline and to the wait-list control group, showed significant reductions in workaholism, hours worked per week, anxiety, depression, and stress and increases in job satisfaction. Hence, the meditation practice produced significant relief of workaholism. In addition, job performance was unchanged even though they worked fewer hours. These results suggest that a randomized controlled clinical trial is warranted with an active control group and perhaps a comparison of different therapies. They also

suggest that meditation practice is an effective treatment for workaholism.

 

So, improve workaholism with meditation.

 

“It is possible to move through the drama of our lives without believing so earnestly in the character that we play. That we take ourselves so seriously, that we are so absurdly important in our own minds, is a problem for us. We feel justified in being annoyed with everything. We feel justified in denigrating ourselves or in feeling that we are more clever than other people. Self-importance hurts us, limiting us to the narrow world of our likes and dislikes. We end up bored to death with ourselves and our world. We end up never satisfied.”
― Pema Chödrön

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

William Van Gordon, Edo Shonin, Thomas J. Dunn, Javier Garcia-Campayo, Marcelo M. P. Demarzo, Mark D. Griffiths. Meditation awareness training for the treatment of workaholism: A controlled trial. J Behav Addict. 2017 Jun; 6(2): 212–220. Published online 2017 Apr 19. doi: 10.1556/2006.6.2017.021

 

Abstract

Background and aims

Workaholism is a form of behavioral addiction that can lead to reduced life and job satisfaction, anxiety, depression, burnout, work–family conflict, and impaired productivity. Given the number of people affected, there is a need for more targeted workaholism treatments. Findings from previous case studies successfully utilizing second-generation mindfulness-based interventions (SG-MBIs) for treating behavioral addiction suggest that SG-MBIs may be suitable for treating workaholism. This study conducted a controlled trial to investigate the effects of an SG-MBI known as meditation awareness training (MAT) on workaholism.

Methods

Male and female adults suffering from workaholism (n = 73) were allocated to MAT or a waiting-list control group. Assessments were performed at pre-, post-, and 3-month follow-up phases.

Results

MAT participants demonstrated significant and sustained improvements over control-group participants in workaholism symptomatology, job satisfaction, work engagement, work duration, and psychological distress. Furthermore, compared to the control group, MAT participants demonstrated a significant reduction in hours spent working but without a decline in job performance.

Discussion and conclusions

MAT may be a suitable intervention for treating workaholism. Further controlled intervention studies investigating the effects of SG-MBIs on workaholism are warranted.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5520118/

Mindful Labor Day

Mindful Labor Day

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

 “Sometimes it’s important to work for that pot of gold.  But other times it’s essential to take time off and to make sure that your most important decision in the day simply consists of choosing which color to slide down on the rainbow.”  ~ Douglas Pagels

 

Labor Day is a National Holiday in the United States. It was designed to celebrate the accomplishments of the American worker, particularly organized labor. It is important to celebrate this holiday mindfully. Work is a major component of our lives, it dictates our income, contributes to our social lives, and for many people is an essential part of their self-concept and their self-worth. But rather than using the holiday to reflect on this important part of their lives, most people treat Labor Day mindlessly, as a time to vacation and party. Perhaps, though, it’s important to take at least a little time on this holiday to mindfully reflect on work.

 

To understand the importance of work we need only look at the Buddha’s Noble Eightfold Path. Two of the eight components are Right Actions and Right Livelihood. But, Right Livelihood is itself an action and it would seem that Right Livelihood should be contained in Right Actions and not a separate component. But, the Buddha included Right Livelihood as a separate component to underscore its importance for spiritual development. It’s his way of emphasizing that what one does for a living is an extremely important action. The Buddha taught that it was essential for spiritual development to only engage in work that produces greater happiness, wisdom, and well-being, and relieves suffering in ourselves and others and avoid jobs that produce harm.

 

We should take a mindful look at our occupations on Labor Day and ask whether they promote greater happiness, wisdom, and well-being, and relieves suffering or produces harm. In some case, the fact that it is Right Livelihood is obvious as with professions such as physician, social worker, peace negotiator, relief worker, therapist, etc. On the other hand, professions such as drug dealer, arms merchant, professional criminal, etc. are clearly not. But for most occupations it is much more difficult to discern whether or not they constitute Right Livelihood. This is a point for deep, mindful, exploration for Labor Day.

 

Working on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico produces a product, energy, that is needed for the well-being of virtually everyone. Without affordable energy, every aspect of the economy would collapse. So, working on the oil rig could be seen as promoting well-being and relieving suffering. On the other hand, there is potential for great environmental harm, including oil spills that directly pollute sensitive environments, or contributing to carbon dioxide emissions that can indirectly create great harm by contributing to global warming. So should someone on the eightfold path accept or reject a job working on an oil rig? The answer cannot be given by anyone other than the individual themselves. It is imperative that this be looked at deeply and objectively to determine for themselves if they are doing more harm than good. The primary spiritual impact of Right Livelihood is on the individual engaging in the occupation. So, the decision has to be theirs. That is not to say that experts or friends can’t or shouldn’t be consulted, but that ultimately the individual must decide for themselves and be willing to accept the potential consequences. Needless to say, this should be a focus for deep mindful reflection on Labor Day.

 

The labor movement itself has important consequences for ourselves and others and should also be explored mindfully on Labor Day. It grew out of great labor abuses that existed where unscrupulous employers took advantage of workers, demanding much and paying little. This is an example how great harm can be produced when the wealthy and powerful, as a result of greed, do not practice Right Livelihood. The Buddha taught that there was nothing wrong with being successful and accumulating wealth provided that this was done ethically and honestly, and it promoted the overall well-being of the community. But, for a time, this was not the case. This underscores how the notion of Right Livelihood doesn’t only apply to workers, but also to employers, financiers, Wall Street executives, politicians, etc.

 

The labor movement arose to counteract the rampant abuses of workers. By organizing the workers obtained strength in numbers. This allowed them to stand up to employers and demand better pay and working conditions. It truly exemplifies our interdependence. We are not alone, but rather, are intricately connected to everyone else. This is true for work in general. It is a productive point for mindful contemplation of how our work and in fact, our entire lives are connected to the work of others. If we’re a truck driver we’re totally dependent upon the people who make the trucks, produce the fuel, build the roads, insures, maintains, and repairs the vehicles, makes and enforces the laws governing the roadways, etc. But, we are also dependent upon the work or those who produce our food, make our clothes, build our houses, educate our children, defend and protect us, etc. Our work is interdependent with the work of everyone else. This is an important point for reflection on Labor Day.

 

I recently received an award for my work career. It was a wonderful boost for my ego and made me feel very good about myself. But, with a little mindful reflection, I realized that this was not my award solely. It could never have been achieved without the involvement of a vast array of people, colleagues, students, friends, family superiors, workers, direct reports, police, government, etc. and all of the people who they are dependent upon, and so forth. It couldn’t have been achieved without virtually everyone. It was really an award for a cooperative effort. This kind of thinking made me humble. It made me know that it was not about “I.” Rather, it’s about “we.” Mindful reflection about our work can help us to see the interconnectedness we have with every other living thing.

 

A major issue for Labor Day reflection is what happens in the course of our daily work. We can learn much about ourselves by mindfully examining what transpires at work. What happens can bring us great joy or great suffering, but most of the time, it just provides momentary satisfaction or dissatisfaction. It is the smaller moments that compose the majority of our work lives but they are crucial to our happiness or unhappiness at work. Applying mindfulness and reflection to how we react and our thoughts regarding the events at work, we can gain great insight into the workings of our minds and how they can produce unsatisfactoriness and unhappiness.

 

The fact that your boss failed to mention that your performance was very good that day may make you feel unappreciated at work. But, it is likely that your boss was preoccupied with her own problems. But, looking carefully at your thought process you can begin to see how your response was based on the needs of your own ego. Many people’s feelings of self-worth, or self-hatred for that matter, are built around their work. Not being recognized by a superior may threaten a fragile self-image and produce discomfort and resentment. Work is actually a wonderful opportunity to learn about yourself.

 

You may observe a coworker engaged in petty theft and not report it. Looking deeply at this event you may be able to see that you have a strong need to be liked and you feel that reporting the unethical behavior may cause others to dislike you or see you as a threat. In this case your need for social acceptance causes you to compromise your integrity. The fact that social approval was more important to you than ethics can be a revelation regarding your inner psychological landscape. Once again, work can teach you a lot.

 

There are actually many many events that happen at work every day, small and large, that reveal the workings of your mind and emotions. Applying mindfulness, noticing and being aware of your reactions and actions at work can change your ideas about yourself and change your actions at work and these can lead to greater understanding and acceptance. This, in turn, can lead to greater satisfaction and happiness. Mindfulness is a key. If you are not in the present moment, if you are not paying attention but rather reacting without thinking or noticing, if your mind is wandering and off task, then this splendid opportunity will be lost. So, vow to be mindful at work and become better and happier with the way you make your living.

 

So, on this Labor Day, vow to be mindful and take advantage of the opportunities provided at work to learn about yourself. Grow as a person and grow spiritually by making every work day a mindful work day.

 

“When people say, “This is the way to do it,” that’s not true. There are always many ways, and the way you choose should depend on the current context. You can’t solve today’s problems with yesterday’s solutions. So when someone says, “Learn this so it’s second nature,” let a bell go off in your head, because that means mindlessness. The rules you were given were the rules that worked for the person who created them, and the more different you are from that person, the worse they’re going to work for you. When you’re mindful, rules, routines, and goals guide you; they don’t govern you.” – Ellen Langer

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

Improve Emotional Exhaustion and Employee Retention with Mindfulness

Improve Emotional Exhaustion and Employee Retention with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“In ten years of informally and two years of formally teaching agents mindfulness techniques, I can boldly and honestly say there is no downside to introducing it to your employees. I have seen it completely revolutionize things, transforming a call center in amazing ways. I have also seen it integrated on a small level, added as a tool along with many others. Regardless, the results are always positive.” – Debi Mongan

 

Stress is epidemic in the western workplace with almost two thirds of workers reporting high levels of stress at work. In high stress occupations burnout is all too prevalent. It frequently results from emotional exhaustion. Burnout is the fatigue, cynicism, emotional exhaustion, sleep disruption, and professional inefficacy that comes with work-related stress. Sleep disruption is an important consequence of the stress.  This exhaustion produces a loss of enthusiasm, empathy, and compassion.

 

Call centers can be particularly stressful due to a heavy workload, sustained fast work pace, repetitive tasks, lack of control over the job, the blurred relation between feelings and actions, a competitive environment, and being faced with losing a client. These stresses can lead to problems, including visual, auditory, and speech fatigue. Indeed, each year, 60% of employees take sick leave and 39.4% of employees showed psychological distress symptoms and 8.3% found themselves in a severe situation of psychological distress, and 24% were taking psychoactive drugs. This also produces high turnover, with the average employee leaving the job after only a year.

 

One technique to counteract these problems that is gaining increasing attention is mindfulness training. It has been demonstrated to be helpful in the workplace in reducing stress, improving emotional regulation, and treating and preventing burnout in a number of work environments. In today’s Research News article “The Mediating Role of Emotional Exhaustion in the Relationship of Mindfulness with Turnover Intentions and Job Performance.” (See summary below). Reb and colleagues conducted two studies on the relationship of mindfulness with workplace well-being. They recruited call center workers and had them complete measures of mindfulness, emotional exhaustion, and intention to leave the job.

 

They found that the higher the level of the employee’s mindfulness the lower the level of emotional exhaustion and interest in changing jobs. They also found that the higher the level of emotional exhaustion the higher the interest in changing jobs. They further found with a mediation analysis that the majority of the relationship of mindfulness with lower interest in changing jobs was due to the negative relationship of mindfulness with emotional exhaustion which in turn was related to lower interest in changing jobs. So, mindfulness was associated with retention of employees directly and indirectly by being associated with lower emotional exhaustion.

 

In a second study Reb and colleagues recruited worker – supervisor pairs from a variety of industries. They again collected measures of mindfulness, emotional exhaustion, and intention to leave the job but also collected supervisor ratings of the employees’ job performances. They again found that the higher the level of the employee’s mindfulness the lower the level of emotional exhaustion and interest in changing jobs and the higher level of job performance. They also found that the higher the level of emotional exhaustion the higher the interest in changing jobs and the lower the job performance. They further found, as in study 1, with a mediation analysis that the majority of the relationship of mindfulness with lower interest in changing jobs was due to the negative relationship of mindfulness with emotional exhaustion which in turn was related to lower interest in changing jobs. But, they also found that the positive relationship of mindfulness with higher job performance was due to the negative relationship of mindfulness with emotional exhaustion which in turn was related to higher job performance.

 

These are interesting findings but are correlational, so causation cannot be concluded. But, the findings suggest that mindfulness is highly related to job performance and employee retention and better job performance. The results further suggest that these associations of mindfulness are due to a large extent to mindfulness’ relationship with lower emotional exhaustion. In other words, mindfulness appears to be related to less likelihood of leaving the job and better performance on the job both as a direct result of their relationship with mindfulness and indirectly due to mindfulness’ relationship with lower emotional exhaustion.

 

So, improve emotional exhaustion and employee retention with mindfulness.

 

“My advice to companies looking to introduce mindfulness techniques in their contact center culture is simple: start small but cultivate it and tend to it so it grows. One small step for your contact center, one giant leap for your entire company!” – Debi Mongan

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Reb, J., Narayanan, J., Chaturvedi, S., Ekkirala, S. The Mediating Role of Emotional Exhaustion in the Relationship of Mindfulness with Turnover Intentions and Job Performance. Mindfulness (2017) 8: 707. doi:10.1007/s12671-016-0648-z

 

Abstract

Mindfulness in the workplace has emerged as a legitimate and growing area of organizational scholarship. The present research examined the role of employee emotional exhaustion in mediating the relationship of mindfulness with turnover intentions and task performance. Drawing on theory and empirical research on both organizational behavior and mindfulness, we predicted that more mindful employees would show lower turnover intentions and higher task performance and that these relationships would be mediated by emotional exhaustion. We tested these hypotheses in two field studies in an Indian context. Study 1 was a field study of call center employees of a multinational organization, an industry in which turnover rates are very high. This study found that mindfulness was associated with lower turnover intentions and less emotional exhaustion, and that emotional exhaustion mediated the relationship between mindfulness and turnover intentions. Study 2 replicated these results in a sample of employees based in major Indian cities and drawn from different industries. In addition, it showed that mindfulness was positively related to supervisor-rated task performance, with emotional exhaustion again playing a mediating role. We discuss theoretical and practical implications of our findings, as well as future research directions.

Improve Well-Being in the Workplace with Mindfulness

Improve Well-Being in the Workplace with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Toxic emotions disrupt the workplace, and mindfulness increases your awareness of these destructive patterns, helping you recognize them before they run rampant. It’s a way of reprogramming your mind to think in healthier, less stressful, ways.” – Drew Hansen

 

Work is very important for our health and well-being. We spend approximately 25% of our adult lives at work. How we spend that time is immensely important for our psychological and physical health. Indeed, the work environment has even become an important part of our social lives, with friendships and leisure time activities often attached to the work environment. But, more than half of employees in the U.S. and nearly 2/3 worldwide are unhappy at work. This is partially due to work-related stress which is epidemic in the western workplace. Almost two thirds of workers reporting high levels of stress at work. This stress can result in impaired health and can result in burnout; producing fatigue, cynicism, and professional inefficacy.

 

To help overcome unhappiness, stress, and burnoutmindfulness practices have been implemented in the workplace. Indeed, mindfulness practices have been shown to markedly reduce the physiological and psychological responses to stress. As a result, it has become very trendy for business to incorporate meditation into the workday to help improve employee well-being, health, and productivity. For example, Google offers “Search Inside Yourself” classes to teach mindfulness at work. But, although there is a lot of anecdotal evidence of meditation improving well-being and work performance, there is actually very little systematic research on its effectiveness.

 

In today’s Research News article “Acceptability, Feasibility, and Efficacy of a Workplace Mindfulness Program for Public Sector Employees: a Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial with Informant Reports.” (See summary below). Bartlett and colleagues performed a pilot study of mindfulness training effects on well-being in the workplace. They recruited adults employed in the public sector and assigned them to either receive a 5-week, 1.5 hours per week, mindfulness training, based upon Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program, tailored for the workplace, or self-help education program regarding workplace issues including coping with stress. The participants completed before and after training measures of mindfulness, observable mindfulness behaviors, perceived stress, psychological distress, health-related quality of life, sleep quality, job stressors, absenteeism and presenteeism, social functioning, and job demands and security.

 

They found that the mindfulness trained group had significant improvements, with moderate effect sizes, in mindfulness, perceived stress, psychological distress, health-related quality of life, and social functioning. They also reported significantly less absenteeism, presenteeism, and lost productive days. An analysis of the participants’ reports regarding their participation revealed that the mindfulness training produced improvements in relationships, attention, productivity, stress, emotional regulation, and vigor. Mediation analysis indicated that mindfulness mediated, wholly or in part, the effects of the training on well-being.

 

The results are impressive for a pilot study that did not have a large group of participants. Of course, a larger randomized controlled trial with an active control group is needed to conclusively demonstrate the benefits of mindfulness training. But, the results suggest that mindfulness training produces marked improvement in public sector employee physical and psychological well-being. Although, not measured, the results suggest that the mindfulness training would reduce workplace burnout and improve health and productivity.

 

So, improve well-being in the workplace with mindfulness.

 

“Mindful awareness is an extremely important business skill. It creates a solid foundation for all other Human Resources and Learning and Development initiatives, from sales training to leadership development. By first teaching teams to manage their attention, all other training is maximised. It’s a win-win for both employee and employer.” – Smiling Mind

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

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Study Summary

 

Bartlett, L., Lovell, P., Otahal, P., Sanderson, K. Acceptability, Feasibility, and Efficacy of a Workplace Mindfulness Program for Public Sector Employees: a Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial with Informant Reports. Mindfulness (2017) 8: 639. doi:10.1007/s12671-016-0643-4

 

Abstract

Mindfulness training appears to reduce stress and distress, but little is known about whether it results in changes that can be observed by colleagues, family, or friends or its appropriateness as a workplace stress management intervention for a large and distributed public sector workforce. This study evaluated a pilot 5-week Mindfulness at Work Program (MaWP) for acceptability, feasibility, and efficacy in relation to stress and related mental health and productivity problems for public sector employees. A parallel group randomized controlled trial compared the MaWP intervention (n = 20) with an information-only control (n = 100). Exploratory qualitative and quantitative methods were used to assess changes observed by informants (n = 63). Results suggest a high degree of acceptability, although location and inflexible work schedules presented feasibility obstacles. Compared with the control, the primary outcome of mindfulness improved for MaWP participants (d = 0.57, p < 0.001), as did perceived stress (d = 0.97, p < 0.001), psychological distress (d = 0.61, p < 0.001), health-related quality of life (d = 0.51, p = 0.002), and social functioning (d = 0.08, p = 0.019). All secondary outcomes were at least partly mediated by changes in mindfulness. The intervention thus appears to have potential merit as a workplace intervention for public sector employees across a range of outcomes. Obtaining informant observations was feasible and while qualitative analyses indicated positive changes that supported self-reported outcomes, quantitative analyses returned ambiguous results. A seven-item scale adapted from a popular self-report mindfulness scale for use by informants showed promise, but further work is needed to establish validity, reliability, and scalability of this method of assessing observable changes following mindfulness training.

Maintain a Yoga Practice to Improve Absences due to Back Pain

Maintain a Yoga Practice to Improve Absences due to Back Pain

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“For people with lower back pain, stretching is very important. For example, stretching the hamstring muscles (in the back of the thigh) helps expand the motion in the pelvis, decreasing stress across the lower back. In addition, stretching with yoga increases blood flow, allowing nutrients to flow in, toxins to flow out, and overall nourishment of the muscles and soft tissues in the lower back.” – Fred Busch

 

Low Back Pain is the leading cause of disability worldwide and affects between 6% to 15% of the population. It is estimated, however, that 80% of the population will experience back pain sometime during their lives. The pain interferes with daily living and with work, interfering with productivity and creating absences. There are varied treatments for low back pain including chiropractic care, acupuncture, biofeedback, physical therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, massage, surgery, opiate pain killing drugs, steroid injections, and muscle relaxant drugs. These therapies are sometimes effective particularly for acute back pain. But, for chronic conditions the treatments are less effective and often require continuing treatment for years and opiate pain killers are dangerous and can lead to abuse, addiction, and fatal overdoses. Obviously, there is a need for safe and effective treatments for low back pain that are low cost and don’t have troublesome side effects.

 

Pain involves both physical and psychological issues. Physically, exercise can be helpful in strengthening the back to prevent or relieve pain. Psychologically, the stress, fear, and anxiety produced by pain tends to elicit responses that actually amplify the pain. So, reducing the emotional reactions to pain may be helpful in pain management. Mindfulness practices have been shown to improve emotion regulation producing more adaptive and less maladaptive responses to emotions. Indeed, mindfulness practices are effective in treating pain and have been shown to be safe and effective in the management of low back pain. Yoga practice is both an exercise and a mindfulness practice which has been shown to have a myriad of health benefits, including relief of chronic pain and relief of chronic low-back pain.  So, it makes sense to further explore the effectiveness of exercise and yoga practice for chronic low back pain.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effects of yoga, strength training and advice on back pain: a randomized controlled trial.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5372262/

Brämberg and colleagues recruited adult patients with non-disabling low back pain and randomly assigned them to a strength training exercise, kundalini yoga, or evidence-based education group. Strength training consisted of six weeks of 60-minute supervised strength training with encouragement to practice at least twice weekly at home. Kundalini yoga training consisted of six weeks of 60-minute supervised yoga sessions with meditations, breathing, and posture practice, with encouragement to practice at least twice weekly at home.  Evidence-based education consisted of readings that encourage strategies for self-care, information on medication, sick leave and strategies for managing pain. All participants were measured before and after training and 6 and 12 months later for back and neck pain, absences from work, going to work in pain, and adherence to treatment.

 

They found that yoga had a significantly lower drop-out rate suggesting that it was better liked and tolerated than strength training or education. In addition, neck disability was significantly lower in the yoga and strength training groups than the education group, while back pain was significantly improved in the strength training group. Overall there were no significant group differences in absences from work. But, when the groups were separated into participants who adhered to the recommendations and exercised at least twice a week after training and those who practiced less, the adhering groups had significantly fewer absences, greater than 40% fewer, than the education group or the low adherence participants.

 

These are interesting results and suggest that exercise is helpful with low back pain and its consequences for work life. Yoga practice did not appear to produce superior results to strength training for pain or absences. This suggests that the exercise component of yoga practice is what is effective. But, yoga appeared to be preferred and better tolerated as fewer participants dropped out. The results also clearly indicate that continued practice is crucial. No matter what the exercise practice was, it had to be continued after active training in order to continue being effective.

 

So, maintain a yoga practice to improve absences due to back pain.

 

“And in a new, nationally representative survey from the Consumer Reports National Research Center of more than 3,500 adults, yoga (and tai chi, or the like) was helpful to almost 90 percent of the back-pain suffers who tried it. In comparison, 75 percent of people who saw a physical therapist and 64 percent who saw a primary care doctor said the advice or treatment they received gave them relief.” – Consumer Reports

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

Brämberg, E. B., Bergström, G., Jensen, I., Hagberg, J., & Kwak, L. (2017). Effects of yoga, strength training and advice on back pain: a randomized controlled trial. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, 18, 132. http://doi.org/10.1186/s12891-017-1497-1

 

Abstract

Background

Among the working population, non-specific low-back pain and neck pain are one of the most common reasons for sickness absenteeism. The aim was to evaluate the effects of an early intervention of yoga – compared with strength training or evidence-based advice – on sickness absenteeism, sickness presenteeism, back and neck pain and disability among a working population.

Methods

A randomized controlled trial was conducted on 159 participants with predominantly (90%) chronic back and neck pain. After screening, the participants were randomized to kundalini yoga, strength training or evidence-based advice. Primary outcome was sickness absenteeism. Secondary outcomes were sickness presenteeism, back and neck pain and disability. Self-reported questionnaires and SMS text messages were completed at baseline, 6 weeks, 6 and 12 months.

Results

The results did not indicate that kundalini yoga and strength training had any statistically significant effects on the primary outcome compared with evidence-based advice. An interaction effect was found between adherence to recommendations and sickness absenteeism, indicating larger significant effects among the adherers to kundalini yoga versus evidence-based advice: RR = 0.47 (CI 0.30; 0.74, p = 0.001), strength training versus evidence-based advice: RR = 0.60 (CI 0.38; 0.96, p = 0.032). Some significant differences were also found for the secondary outcomes to the advantage of kundalini yoga and strength training.

Conclusions

Guided exercise in the forms of kundalini yoga or strength training does not reduce sickness absenteeism more than evidence-based advice alone. However, secondary analyses reveal that among those who pursue kundalini yoga or strength training at least two times a week, a significantly reduction in sickness absenteeism was found. Methods to increase adherence to treatment recommendations should be further developed and applied in exercise interventions.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5372262/

Improve Anxiety and Work Better with Mindfulness

Improve Anxiety and Work Better with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Being mindful means paying attention to the present moment, exactly as it is. It is really hard to be anxious if you are completely focused on the present moment” – AnxietyBC

 

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting 40 million adults, or 18% of the population. Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) affects about 3.1% of the U.S. population. GAD involves excessive worry about everyday problems. People with GAD become anxious in anticipation of problems with their finances, health, employment, and relationships. They typically have difficulty calming their concerns, even though they realize that their anxiety is more intense than the situation warrants. Physically, GAD sufferers will often show excessive fatigue, irritability, muscle tension or muscle aches, trembling, feeling twitchy, being easily startled, trouble sleeping, sweating, nausea, diarrhea or irritable bowel syndrome, and headaches. Clearly, GAD will interfere with the performance of normal daily activities including impairing work performance.

 

Anxiety disorders have generally been treated with drugs. It has been estimated that 11% of women in the U.S. are taking anti-anxiety medications. But, there are considerable side effects and these drugs are often abused. So, there is a need to develop alternative treatments. Recently, it has been found that mindfulness training can be effective for anxiety disorders. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) contains three mindfulness trainings, meditation, body scan, and yoga, and has been shown to be effective in treating anxiety. So, it would be reasonable to expect that MBSR training would improve work performance in people with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD).

 

In today’s Research News article “.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at:

http://www.sciencedirect.com.ezproxy.shsu.edu/science/article/pii/S0022399917300661

Hoge and colleagues recruited male and female adult patients who were diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and randomly assigned them to receive either an 8-week program of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) or a comparable stress management program. Participants were measured before and after the 8-week training period and also followed up 24 weeks later for workplace performance, absenteeism, including entire workdays missed and partial workdays missed, healthcare utilization practices, and home meditation practice.

 

They found that at the conclusion of treatment the MBSR group had significantly fewer partial days lost than the control group. In addition, they found that at follow-up the greater the amount of meditation practice the fewer the partial days missed and the fewer the visits to a mental health professional. Hence, MBSR training helps to improve attendance at work and reduce the utilization of mental health care in people with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). Hence, MBSR appears to improve GAD sufferers’ ability to function in their occupations.

 

Anxiety is a fear of potential future negative events. It is dependent upon future oriented thought processes. Mindfulness training may counteract this by focusing the individual on the present moment. Since, there are no negative events there in the present moment, anxiety dissipates. In addition, mindfulness training improves the individual’s ability to see the negative future projections as they arise in the mind and recognize that they are not based in present reality. This can lead to reduced anxiety and better performance at work.

 

So, improve anxiety and work better with mindfulness.

 

“The goal of mindful practices is to force us to be present, so we don’t waste precious days worrying. Needless anxiety and stress cannot burden us if the thoughts don’t enter our mind. And fortunately, we are only capable of focusing on one thing at a time. When you’re aware of only what you’re working on and the sensations of your body, conscious worry is not possible.” – Jordan Bates

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

Hoge EA, Guidos BM, Mete M, Bui E, Pollack MH, Simon NM, Dutton MA. Effects of mindfulness meditation on occupational functioning and health care utilization in individuals with anxiety. J Psychosom Res. 2017 Apr;95:7-11. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2017.01.011.

 

Highlights

  • Individuals that received mindfulness training had a reduction in partial workdays missed.
  • Work loss, specifically partial days missed decreased as patients practiced mindfulness more often at home.
  • Mental health visits decreased more in patients who practiced mindfulness more often at home.

Abstract

Objectives

To examine the effect of mindfulness meditation on occupational functioning in individuals with Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).

Methods

Fifty-seven individuals with GAD (mean (SD) age = 39 (13); 56% women) participated in an 8-week clinical trial in which they were randomized to mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) or an attention control class. In this secondary analysis, absenteeism, entire workdays missed, partial workdays missed, and healthcare utilization patterns were assessed before and after treatment.

Results

Compared to the attention control class, participation in MBSR was associated with a significantly greater decrease in partial work days missed for adults with GAD (t = 2.734, df = 51, p = 0.009). Interestingly, a dose effect was observed during the 24-week post-treatment follow-up period: among MBSR participants, greater home mindfulness meditation practice was associated with less work loss and with fewer mental health professional visits.

Conclusion

Mindfulness meditation training may improve occupational functioning and decrease healthcare utilization in adults with GAD.

http://www.sciencedirect.com.ezproxy.shsu.edu/science/article/pii/S0022399917300661

Improve Attitudes and Mental Health at Work with Mindfulness

Improve Attitudes and Mental Health at Work with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindfulness is, above all, about being aware and awake rather than operating unconsciously. When you’re consciously present at work, you’re aware of two aspects of your moment-to-moment experience—what’s going on around you and what’s going on within you. To be mindful at work means to be consciously present in what you’re doing, while you’re doing it, as well as managing your mental and emotional state.” –  Shamash Alidina

 

Stress is epidemic in the western workplace with almost two thirds of workers reporting high levels of stress at work. In high stress occupations burnout is all too prevalent. It frequently results from emotional exhaustion. Burnout is the fatigue, cynicism, emotional exhaustion, sleep disruption, and professional inefficacy that comes with work-related stress. Sleep disruption is an important consequence of the stress.  This exhaustion produces a loss of enthusiasm, empathy, and compassion. Regardless of the reasons for burnout or its immediate presenting consequences, it is a threat to the workplace. From a business standpoint, it reduces employee efficiency and productivity and increases costs. From the worker perspective, it makes the workplace a stressful, unhappy place, promoting physical and psychological problems. Hence, preventing burnout in the workplace is important. One technique that is gaining increasing attention is mindfulness training. It has been demonstrated to be helpful in treating and preventing burnout in a number of work environments.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindful2Work: Effects of Combined Physical Exercise, Yoga, and Mindfulness Meditations for Stress Relieve in Employees. A Proof of Concept Study.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5241323/

de Bruin and colleagues performed a pilot study of the effectiveness of a program of exercise, meditation, and yoga for the relief of work related stress symptoms. They recruited

workers who were referred by physicians who diagnosed them with work related stress issues. The workers received training in six weekly 2-hour sessions and a follow-up session, consisting of 20 minutes of aerobic exercise, 20 minutes of Hatha restorative yoga, and 80 minutes of mindfulness meditation including psycho-education. The participants were encouraged to practice at home. They were measured before and after the intervention, 6 weeks and 6 months after the completion of the program for workability, perceived stress, anxiety, depression, emotions, and sleep.

 

They found that the participants liked the program rating it at 8.1 on a 10-point scale. Following the intervention work-related fatigue and exhaustion (burnout) was markedly and significantly reduced while motivation, activation, focus and concentration, and energy were significantly increased. The employees became significantly less likely to leave their job, worked a significantly greater proportion of their contract hours, and found the work environment to be significantly better. Hence, the employees showed markedly improved attitudes and behavior toward their jobs. The employees’ psychological health was also greatly improved, with significant reductions in anxiety, depression, perceived stress, and increases in sleep quality and positive emotions. These effects all had very large effect sizes and were still strong and present 6 months after the conclusion of training. Hence, work-related psychological issues were improved in a lasting way with the intervention.

 

These results of this pilot study were impressive. But, the lack of a control group or condition markedly limits the conclusions that can be reached. Also, since the intervention contained meditation, yoga, and aerobic exercise, it cannot be determined which, or which combination of components are necessary for the benefits. But, the results certainly suggest that a large randomized controlled clinical trial should be conducted. With the intense stresses of the modern work environment, a program that reduced stress and improved attitudes and emotions, would be extremely valuable both to the employer and the employees.

 

So, improve attitudes and mental health at work with mindfulness.

 

“Many corporations and employees are realizing that the benefits of mindfulness practices can be dramatic. In addition to supporting overall health and well-being, mindfulness has been linked to improved cognitive functioning and lower stress levels.” – Carolyn Gregoire

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

De Bruin, E. I., Formsma, A. R., Frijstein, G., & Bögels, S. M. (2017). Mindful2Work: Effects of Combined Physical Exercise, Yoga, and Mindfulness Meditations for Stress Relieve in Employees. A Proof of Concept Study. Mindfulness, 8(1), 204–217. http://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-016-0593-x

 

Abstract

Work-related stress and associated illness and burnout is rising in western society, with now as much as almost a quarter of European and half of USA’s employees estimated to be at the point of burnout. Mindfulness meditation, yoga, and physical exercise have all shown beneficial effects for work-related stress and illness. This proof of concept study assessed the feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary effects of the newly developed Mindful2Work training, a combination of physical exercise, restorative yoga, and mindfulness meditations, delivered in six weekly group sessions plus a follow-up session. Participants (n = 26, four males), referred by company doctors with (work-related) stress and burnout complaints, completed measurements pre and post the intervention, as well as at 6-week (FU1) and 6-month (FU2) follow-up. Results showed very high feasibility and acceptability of the Mindful2Work training. The training and trainers were rated with an 8.1 and 8.4 on a 1–10 scale, respectively, and training dropout rate was zero. Significant improvements with (very) large effect sizes were demonstrated for the primary outcome measures of physical and mental workability, and for anxiety, depression, stress, sleep quality, positive and negative affect, which remained (very) large and mostly increased further over time. Risk for long-term dropout from work (checklist individual strength [CIS]) was 92 % at pre-test, reduced to 67 % at post-test, to 44 % at FU1, and 35 % at FU2, whereas employees worked (RTWI) 65 % of their contract hours per week at pre-test, which increased to 73 % at post-test, 81 % at FU1 and 93 % at FU2. Intensity of home practice or number of attended sessions were not related to training effects. To conclude, the newly developed Mindful2Work training seems very feasible, and acceptable, and although no control group was included, the large effects of Mindful2Work are highly promising.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5241323/

 

Improve Employee Well-being with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Toxic emotions disrupt the workplace, and mindfulness increases your awareness of these destructive patterns, helping you recognize them before they run rampant. It’s a way of reprogramming your mind to think in healthier, less stressful, ways.” – Drew Hanson

 

Work is very important for our health and well-being. We spend approximately 25% of our adult lives at work. How we spend that time is immensely important for our psychological and physical health. Indeed, the work environment has even become an important part of our social lives, with friendships and leisure time activities often attached to the work environment. But, more than half of employees in the U.S. and nearly 2/3 worldwide are unhappy at work. This is partially due to work-related stress which is epidemic in the western workplace. Almost two thirds of workers reporting high levels of stress at work. This stress can result in impaired health and can result in burnout; producing fatigue, cynicism, and professional inefficacy.

 

To help overcome unhappiness, stress, and burnout, mindfulness practices have been implemented in the workplace. In fact, it has become very trendy for business to incorporate meditation into the workday to help improve productivity. For example, Google offers “Search Inside Yourself” classes to teach mindfulness at work. But, although there is a lot of anecdotal evidence of meditation improving work performance, there is actually very little systematic research on its effectiveness.

 

In today’s Research News article “Systematic review: complementary therapies and employee well-being.” See:

https://www.facebook.com/ContemplativeStudiesCenter/photos/a.628903887133541.1073741828.627681673922429/1305498966140693/?type=3&theater

or see summary below. Ravalier and colleagues reviewed the published research literature on the effects of mindfulness practices implemented in the work environment. They included only full-length peer-reviewed journal articles published since 2000. They found that mindfulness practices produced significant reductions in perceived stress and improvements in vigor, psychological health, and resilience in the employees. In other words, they found very promising research findings, suggesting marked improvements in employee psychological well-being produced by mindfulness practices. They point out, however, that there is a need for longer-term follow-up studies to ascertain whether mindfulness practices have lasting effects in the workplace.

 

These results complement the research findings of mindfulness effects in many other contexts. It has been shown in general to reduce the psychological and physical responses to stress and to improve mental and physical health. This suggests that mindfulness practices may improve health and productivity and reduce burnout in modern workers. Beyond overcoming the negative effects of the work environment, the workplace has been postulated to be an excellent environment to practice the Buddha’s Eightfold Path for spiritual development and the relief of suffering.

 

So, improve employee well-being with mindfulness.

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

“By improving the way people relate to one another, ideally it can change corporate culture for the better, creating a more supportive, friendlier workplace with better relationships. In many organizations, there are bigger, systemic changes that need to be made, but I don’t think that instituting a mindfulness program will prevent those changes from happening. At the least, a mindfulness program provides workers with some relief from stress and anxiety while they campaign for systemic changes; at best, it helps to catalyze those bigger systemic changes.”Jason Marsh

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts

 

Study Summary

  1. M. Ravalier, P. Wegrzynek and S. Lawton Systematic review: complementary therapies and employee well-being. Occup Med (Lond) April 4, 2016, doi: 10.1093/occmed/kqw047

 

Abstract

Background A variety of workplace-based interventions exist to reduce stress and increase productivity. However, the efficacy of these interventions is sometimes unclear.

Aims To determine whether complementary therapies offered in the workplace improve employee well-being.

Methods We performed a systematic literature review which involved an electronic search of articles published between January 2000 and July 2015 from the databases Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, PsycINFO, MEDLINE, AMED, CINAHL Plus, EMBASE and PubMed. We also undertook a manual search of all applicable article reference lists to ensure that no relevant studies were missed. We only selected published, full-length, English-language, peer-reviewed journal articles. Articles had to address the research objective using valid and reliable measures. We excluded articles concerning return to work or whose populations had been adversely affected by work resulting in the development of health issues.

Results We included 10 articles in the review from 131 identified. Mindfulness and meditation-based interventions were most effective in improving workplace health and work performance; the latter demonstrating some evidence of maintaining gains up to 3 months later. The evidence for relaxation interventions was inconclusive.

Conclusions Mindfulness and meditation interventions may be helpful in improving both psychosocial workplace health and work performance, but long-term efficacy has yet to be fully determined.