Work-related stress affects not only the health and well-being of personnel but also the productivity of an organisation. It is the second most common compensated illness/injury in Australia.
When we are stressed, in physical or emotional pain, we understandably want to get rid of it as fast as possible. This may be through exercise, social activities, entertainment, eating, sex, increased substance use, gambling, spending or other activities that help to distract from, push away or suppress the pain. Distraction certainly has a place in managing stressors. However, research shows when we try to ignore, avoid or push away physical pain, emotions or thoughts, they tend to bounce back stronger than ever.
Most of the chatter in our heads is self-critical or concerned about what others think. This is known as ‘monkey mind’. The result can be excessive worrying, anxiety or depression. Our mind is wandering about 46.9 percent of the time, and no less than 30% of the time during every activity – except sex! Research found that people don’t merely fantasize when they are unhappy; instead, a wandering mind leads to unhappiness. The mind also needs time to creatively wander or create space from thinking, doing and planning. This mindless absorption is different from an unhelpful form of mindlessness.
Mindfulness is the practice of ‘paying attention’ to internal experiences: thoughts, feelings, body sensations, movements and posture. It seems counter-intuitive to pay attention to what is causing distress. Yet, research shows mindfulness assists in building and maintaining resilience. The physical or emotional pain or critical thoughts may or may not lessen, but our capacity to deal with them grows.
There are well researched physical, mental and emotional benefits to mindfulness practice. However, it is not a panacea. Mindfulness may be contraindicated for some people. If it doesn’t help or makes you feel worse, this is not a failure of the individual or the practice but a recognition there is not a ‘one size fits all’ approach to life.
This training explores what mindfulness is, what it is not, when it may be contraindicated and practical suggestions to incorporate simple strategies in your daily life.
Participants will be able to: