Updated: Jul 15, 2020
The following post is an excerpt from an article originally published in The HR Gazette.
We are just beginning to see the impact of this extended period of high stress and disruption on our mental health, economy and workplaces. Even though shelter in place restrictions are slowly lifting, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic will be serious and lasting.
The majority (56%) of Canadians say their mental health has been negatively affected by COVID-19 and two-thirds (67%) of Ontarians feel that the mental health impacts of COVID-19 are going to be serious and lasting.
“The mental health and wellbeing of whole societies have been severely impacted by [the COVID-19] crisis and are a priority to be addressed urgently.”
World Health Organization
What can workplaces do?
Workplaces can provide employees the opportunity to learn and develop the skills of mindfulness-in-action as a catalyst for mental health.
Learning mindfulness doesn’t need to be yet another thing on our daily to-do lists. Instead, we can use mindfulness-in-action to flex and strengthen our muscles of mindfulness during our everyday lives.
Workplace mindfulness training helps employees build resilience and develop the skills they need to respond more easily to constant change and uncertainty. Mindfulness-in-action training is a practical, accessible, and cost-effective solution that can impact a business on the individual, leadership and organizational levels.
Take 5: A Practice of Mindfulness-in-Action
At the individual level, every employee can develop their own personalized practice of Take 5. Take 5 is a self-directed mindfulness-in-action practice that can be customized and integrated into daily life. No need for earbuds, quiet dark rooms and incense – Take 5 can be learned and practiced experientially during our busy days. There are five tools to Take 5:
Each of the tools of Take 5 can be practiced individually or in sequence. The underlying intention of MindWell’s core training, The MindWell Challenge, is to support employees in learning and customizing their own new habit of Take 5.
Mindfulness training can build the self-awareness, emotional intelligence and resilience required to successfully lead an organization through crisis. When leaders enact mindfulness-in-action they are able to see the big picture and multiple perspectives so they can see clearly and respond effectively.
Mindful leaders can regulate their emotions during times of high stress and are more capable of sharing their own vulnerability, fostering openness and support within their organizations.
Mindful leaders are strong listeners and respond with compassion to the challenges faced by their people.
Organizations trained in mindfulness-in-action experience the impact across all levels – from the front lines to executives. A new mindset is adopted and a new way of working emerges. Leaders and HR professionals integrate mindfulness when developing organizational policies, procedures and culture.
Protocols enacted to nurture a mindful organization correlate with developing a psychologically safe and healthy workplace – for example, no emailing after work hours or starting meetings with a Take 5 to ensure everyone is fully present in-person and online.
Mindfulness is no longer a nice-to-have, but rather a need-to-have for workplaces that want to help their teams and leaders respond skillfully to the looming mental health crisis.