By Dale Isip

In 2020, there were over 2.6 million non-fatal injuries and illnesses in the American private sector. Over 1.1 million of these cases involved days away from work – with 128,220 of total cases involving back injuries, 266,530 cases involving strains and tears, and 211,640 cases involving trips, slips, and falls.

Although there may not be certain ways to prevent accidents in the workplace, the practice of impartial mental attentiveness, or mindfulness, has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety – factors which may contribute to accidental injury. To further illustrate this, and as part of National Mental Health Awareness Month, here are some ideas on how to practice mindfulness in the workplace.

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is the state or condition of being mentally aware, with an emphasis on an impartial focus on the present moment. Originally a practice of religious significance, mindfulness has been studied scientifically in recent years and has been linked to lower rates of depression and anxiety in test subjects.

In particular, mindfulness practices correlate with the neural substrate. This is an area of the central nervous system that relates to memory, anxiety, and social interactions. Perhaps as a result of such studies, some business and government entities have adopted mindfulness trainings.

Practicing Mindfulness

In order to practice mindfulness, you might want to set aside some time to do so. Perhaps it is early in the morning just after you wake up, or at your desk just before work, or right before you get back to work after lunch.

Choose a generally quiet area where you can concentrate. You may want to be around a clock or watch to acknowledge time.

Start practicing mindfulness with an intent – that is, either to relax or calm down, or to set your mind on a certain goal you have. You can then stand comfortably or sit upright and begin to close your eyes.

Focus on Attentiveness

After you have closed your eyes, slowly begin to breathe in and out. You may reach deeper breaths as time progresses. Pay attention to the sound of your breath and the sounds of your environment. It is fine to have different thoughts during this practice – just acknowledge them. Then re-focus your attention to your breathing at present.

Mindfulness practice can have a calming effect; ideally it should be practiced around 10 to 15 minutes a day. That said, consistency may be more important than duration, so daily 2-minute sessions may be an excellent choice for beginners. As you sense the end of this time period, you can slowly open your eyes.

Mindfulness Everywhere

Mindfulness can be practiced anywhere at any time – while you are walking, eating, or even speaking to other people. The idea is to be aware of the present moment, and what is going on around you.

With daily practice, this type of awareness will improve. Mindfulness may be able to reduce stress and anxiety at work — increasing your chances of having safe and productive workdays.