The Scientific Case For Mindfulness In The Workplace
How do we keep up our productivity in the workplace or in school without burning out from adrenaline fatigue? As a former HR professional, the best solution I’ve come up with is to create an environment conducive to creativity, productivity, and overall well-being. As a stay-at-home Mama, writer, and yoga teacher, it is crucial as well to sustain this environment.
According to Shira Gura, a renowned yoga practitioner and expert, there is a national strategy in the U.S. to advance the medical and psychological health of individuals in the workplace. In the modern business world, companies are legally responsible for health risks and disorders resulting from stress in the workplace. The workplace should first identify the stressors experienced by the employees and then seek the best relaxation plan. It’s imperative that a workplace attempt to seek constructive, valid empirical studies as to whether yoga and meditation really do improve an employee’s performance and health. According to Gura, the author of Yoga for Stress Reduction and Injury Prevention, the facts are as follows. Forty-eight middle to large sized Fortune 1000 companies ranked “improving mental health” as one of the top three priorities.
SEE ALSO: 3 Tips For Manifesting The Work You Love
Here is why:
1) Healthcare costs will decrease if employees are mindful and relaxed
2) Providing Mandatory relaxation classes as an option will save employees time and money, and ultimately improve their quality of life.
3) Yoga and Meditation is a cost-effective exercise. In fact, it barely costs anything. Office Space is generally available and a mat can be fetched on a lunch break.
4) According to research studies by HR professionals, the benefits derived from yoga include improvements in quality of life, cognition, overall performance, and work balance or health and relaxation.
P.Singh who documented Managerial Stress: Study in Cyclical Perspective conducted a study to find out what the key stressors are for managers using the stratified random sampling technique. The variables that were selected were 1) Job pressure 2) Individual demographics 3) Organization variables: company size, management level, and function. The study found the most independent variable that contributed to stress was job pressure.
Iyengar Yoga Pilot Study: Quantitative Data
In an Iyengar yoga study, data was collected on the effects on cognition after practicing yoga. Iyengar yoga is well known to affect one’s physical, mental, and spiritual well bring and promotes increased awareness, vitality and inner peace. In this study, yoga sessions were instructed for eight weeks, twice per week, for 60 minutes. Each given pose was held for two minutes. The postures and pranayama exercises ranged from focused breathing to Warrior II pose.
The data was measured quantitatively using a computerized CogState instrument and changes in cognition through the use of another survey instrument called Perceived Cognition Questionnaire. The CogState is a highly valid and reliable tool that measures seven tasks: attention, memory, psychomotor function/processing speed, learning, and problem-solving. The subjects that were measured in the study improved significantly in strategic problem solving, attention, and psychomotor function/processing speed.
Another corporation, the Livermore National Laboratory, completed 8 weeks of yoga in the workplace. The data was measured qualitatively. One employee who participated said, “I find myself using what I learned in the yoga classes in my workspace.” Another said “The techniques help me relieve tension accumulated from working at the computer all day long.” The primary aims of the wellness programs and pilot programs were to educate employees on skills to manage stress and incorporate and educate employees, on daily relaxation training that all employees can take part in.
Health Relaxation Initiatives in the Workplace
While employees are at work, they are often on autopilot mode and focus on productivity, deadlines, and speed. The sympathetic nervous system is activated and stays in “fight or flight” mode. In fight or flight mode, the heart rate, breathing, blood pressure, and adrenaline are increased. Employees are often unaware of their body positioning and unconcerned about maintaining alignment of the body. Yoga breaks enable each employee to breathe deeply, increasing awareness of body positioning which elicits the relaxation response. Yoga is a physical practice that is accessible to anyone. Therefore, based on the research and data presented, wouldn’t it make sense to implement yoga and relaxation initiatives as a mandatory part of the day? As best said by Yoga Master Swami Satchidananda, “Keep your body clean, your mind clear, and you will be useful, one doesn’t become useful.” (Integral Yoga)
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