Burnout affects the most hardworking employees.
When in the throes of full-fledged burnout, you are no longer able to function effectively on a personal or professional level. However, burnout doesn’t happen suddenly.
You don’t wake up one morning and all of a sudden “have burnout.”
Its nature is much more insidious, creeping up on us over time like a slow leak, which makes it much harder to recognize.
In 2018, 4 out of 5 employees were affected by stress. Of those, 74% felt so stressed that they were overwhelmed or unable to cope.
When we look around the workplace we see the results of stress in reduced productivity, more frequent excuses for absenteeism, and increased health costs.
While prevention is better than cure, what can employers do to stem the tide of stress and burnout? What type of workplace wellness programs do they need to implement? Stress-management and Mindfulness programs spring immediately to mind, with meditation an essential element to both of those wellness initiatives.
Meditation is clinically proven to maintain a positive mental state and decades of research support the many health and well-being benefits.
I’ve been practicing meditation for over two decades and teaching it since 2005 and I’ve seen first-hand the positive changes that occur in the overall well-being of people.
That’s why meditation is in my wellness toolbox.
Meditation brings the brain waves into alpha rhythm where you experience a feeling of well-being and calmness. The brain likes this feeling so that each time you meditate you create a positive response within the mind. Gradually you look forward to, and make time for, your meditation sessions. In turn, you become happier for longer and longer until you retain a feeling of contentment within you.
Is it any surprise then that your relationships improve?
Neuropeptides are chemicals that are produced by the brain in varying amounts depending on how you are feeling. When you are angry or sad, you inhibit your ability to fight infection or remain optimistic or in control of your life, resulting in poorer choices ranging from finances to relationships. You are more likely to become sick for longer periods of time as stress increases to the point that your illness becomes chronic
However, when you are happy you increase specific cells in the body that fight infection demonstrating in a very simple way that the immune system responds to the way that you think
Your thoughts impact your immune system whether you are conscious of this or not.
Simply put, over time, what you think becomes how you feel.
It’s therefore important for companies and employees to work together and promote supportive wellness policies and procedures, develop a company mission and vision for the future that cultivates a culture of well-being, and foster a workplace where everyone can be their best WITHOUT worrying or stressing out.
The following meditation focuses on the breath and takes only a couple of minutes to practice and can be done almost anywhere. It’s one that I’ve used personally and when teaching people to learn meditation and include as part of their wellness routine.
Meditation has numerous applications and there are a variety of methods that you as a practitioner can use depending on your needs.
A breathing meditation helps the lake of the mind remain calm and still.
A breathing meditation serves as a single-pointed focus and both calms the mind and develops internal peace.
You can choose whether to concentrate solely on the breath prior to entering your meditation practice, or to stay with the breath and actually meditate upon it during your entire practice.
Whatever method you choose, I hope that you find it a useful addition to your own wellness toolbox.
Sit in a comfortable position with the spine erect. Your chosen place for meditation should be free from distractions including being too hot, cold, drafty etc as it’s not only noise that can be annoying or distracting!
With the eyes gently closed, draw the attention inwards to the breath. Keep the eyes still in this inner eye gaze.
Follow the breath from the tip of the nose into the base of the lungs.
Follow the breath all the way out in a steady stream.
Keep the lips closed and the facial muscles relaxed.
Allow the breath to flow effortlessly into and out of the body without your input or control.
Continue following the breath as it enters and leaves the body until you feel the body and mind relax and the breath becomes slow and steady.
Note the sensation of the breath as it passes through both nostrils, over the back of the throat and into the base of the lungs.
Never force the breath.
Deepen and lengthen the breath.
Feel the breath flow into the body, permeating every cell.
Maintain awareness on the sensation of the breath.
Concentrate on how the breath feels.
If any thoughts enter the mind’s awareness, simply allow them to pass on by.
Don’t follow a train of thought.
Remain focused on the breath and all the impressions that it leaves.
If you discover that you have inadvertently allowed the mind to wander off, don’t judge yourself. Accept that this has happened and simply return to the gentle rhythmic flow of the breath.
Eventually, the deeper you concentrate on the breath, the fewer distractions that will appear, as there is no room for other thoughts to enter.
With practice and dedication the mind will stay with the breath. It will be comfortable in this new attentiveness.
All distracting thoughts subside and the mind experiences deep relaxation and profound peace.
A feeling of expansiveness of body and mind will permeate your entire being.
(It is not uncommon to actually lose all awareness of even possessing a physical body as the mind joins with the source of the peace.)
Once your thoughts have melted away and awareness is only on the sensations of the breath, remain in this peaceful state until you feel that your meditation is complete.
Margaret Stockley is the CEO of the Aspire2 Wellness Group and the founder of the Professional Organization For Wellness Certification (Powcert) providing workplace wellness program consultation and certification training to help companies build successful wellness programs that increase employee engagement and reduce costs. She is the author of “Transforming Workplace Wellness”, and co-author of “Inner Knowledge” and the CD “Multi-Sensory Meditation”.