The importance of mindfulness to enhance care staff wellbeing…
The last few years have highlighted more than ever the importance of looking after our own mental health and wellbeing. Covid-19 has further highlighted the impact stress, anxiety and neglected mental wellbeing can have.
A recent UNISON survey shows a substantial proportion of care workers have suffered problems during the pandemic including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), with more than two thirds (68%) saying their mental health has declined. With stress and anxiety rising in the care sector ways to support these essential workers is crucial. Mindfulness has become increasingly popular in recent years as a way of increasing overall wellbeing.
Mindfulness – the facts
Mindfulness is defined as “Paying attention to something, in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, non judgmentally” (Kabat- Zann 2003). However, what does this really mean? And how can this help us as individuals? Simply put, Mindfulness exercises are ways of paying attention to the present moment using techniques like meditation, breathing, and yoga. Training helps people to become more aware of their thoughts, feelings, and body sensations so that instead of being overwhelmed by them, they’re better able to manage them.
Research has shown that practicing mindfulness can improve anxiety, stress and the feeling of ‘burn out’ (Chiesa A, Serretti A, 2009) whilst also improving cognitive skills such as improved reaction times, comprehension scores, working memory functioning and decision-making (Zeidan F et al, 2010). Other research suggests that employees who practise mindfulness have less emotional exhaustion, better work-life balance and better job performance ratings. (Hafenbrack et al, 2013). In fact 66% of GPs say that they would support a public information campaign to promote the potential health benefits of Mindfulness meditation (ICM survey, 2019)
With 70 million working days lost each year due to stress and anxiety (mind.org.uk) costing employers between £33-£42 billion a year (Thriving at work report, 2017) it seems vital for organizations to invest in wellbeing support.
By providing mindfulness and wellbeing workshops companies can increase productivity, organizational performance, reduction in staff stress and therefore time off work and increased job satisfaction.
OOMPH and Mindfulness
Oomph Wellness are partnering with Kate Thubron – Mindful care Consultancy to do just this. Launching interactive workshops that provide staff with a ‘mindful toolkit’ on recognizing, addressing and managing the signs of stress, anxiety and poor mental wellbeing whilst also providing on demand services such as exercise classes and relaxation sessions. The toolkit includes techniques in mindful breathing and how to focus on the movement of their breath (whilst being aware) but not engaging in thoughts at that present time. Breathing correctly can have a physical impact on the body to help reduce bp, pulse and respiration rate whilst increasing brain waves to release serotonin.
Staff are taught techniques to help manage modern day stress by using the 4As approach and the Circles of control. Understanding what they can control, what they can influence but also what they are unable to control in a particular situation. Allowing this to be used in 1-1s, supervisions or independently as a reflective practitioner. The GLAD technique is also shared where staff are encouraged to focus on paying attention to certain positive aspects that are around them, but which frequently go unnoticed. Looking at one thing they are grateful for in that day (G), one thing that they learnt (L), an accomplishment(A) ( big or small) and a delight that touched them that day(D).
Staff are given time and the sense of being given the permission that it is okay and in fact it is needed to stop at times to refocus your mind. The mindfulness practice is also shared with those that they care for with mantras, guided imagery, chair based yoga and colour breathing meditation. Providing mindfulness for both care teams and residents.
How organizations can support staff wellbeing
- Investing in mindfulness and wellbeing programmes for staff
- Ensure that there are inclusive polices in place to recognise staff’s mental health
- Enrolling a wellbeing ambassador to show staff that the company commit to supporting them
In essence, providing mindfulness opportunities to staff has several benefits. While it can bring awareness to staffs own mental health needs it has also shown to reduce stress, anxiety, and overall wellbeing. By allowing staff to feel supported this can increase organizational performance, making it a win-win situation for both parties.