Mindfulness in a Post Pandemic World

COVID-19 has forced us to re-think how we live, work, and socialize. It has also exacerbated a pre-existing mental health crisis. Reports indicate that anxiety, depression, isolation, and grief have peaked, for both frontline and remote workers. 

In response, employers have invested in mental health benefits and telemedicine. We’ve also seen a heavy investment in meditation programs. When our bodies are exposed to sudden stress or threat, we respond with a “fight or flight” response. This adrenaline rush we experience is a result of the release of hormones that cause an increase in blood pressure and heart rate. Meditation is designed to elicit the opposite response. Meditation is the practice of focusing the mind on a particular object, thought, or activity to train attention, train awareness, and achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm state.

Research shows that this practice reduces stress, improves sleep, and promotes overall health and well-being. Michal Rinkevich, the VP of Wellness Services at McGriff, can attest to this; she has practiced and coached meditation for more than two decades. Michal says the events of the past year have taught employers a valuable lesson. “We need to cultivate resilience and provide people with better tools for stress. This past year taught us that life is uncertain, we can’t control everything. Things are going to come our way and the question is, are we equipped to face challenges in ways that will allow us to come out even better?

This past year taught us that life is uncertain, we can’t control everything. Things are going to come our way and the question is, are we equipped to face challenges in ways that will allow us to come out even better?

Michal Rinkevich

VP of Wellness Services, McGriff

What Lies Ahead?

As we enter year two of the pandemic, some employers may look to slowly re-open their offices to a limited capacity. As we transition from a fully remote to a hybrid remote/in-office environment, we should take heed of what we’ve learned the past year, and incorporate mindfulness into your culture in a sustainable and inclusive way. 

Michal has some great tips on how to do this.

Be Strategic

Because meditation helps us to slow down and be aware of our thoughts and feelings, it could also enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion within your organization. Studies have shown that practicing meditation can decrease implicit bias and discrimination. “Meditation can help shift and shape culture, improve employee engagement and morale. It is important for companies to recognize that, and give it the time, attention, and thought, in terms of how to do it,” Michal says. 

It is important to be strategic and base your mindfulness program on research. Understand how and why your organization will utilize this practice, and use this knowledge to create a business case for it. A compelling business case could be critical in garnering the support of your company’s leadership team. Speaking of leadership support…

Gain Leadership Support

This does not mean that your leadership team has to sit in lotus pose and burn incense. This does mean your leadership embodies mindfulness principles based on the example they set. It should reflect in the ways they treat people, and by leading the organization in an ethical and inclusive way. “Your CEO doesn’t need to become an avid meditator, but they should demonstrate those principles,” Michal says. They should understand the value of meditation, support it, and encourage the practice within their organization.

Be Consistent

Meditation is a PRACTICE – for this to become embedded in your company culture, you must consistently offer your employees the resources they need. Whether it’s guided meditation sessions, yoga classes, or lunch and learns, it is imperative that you provide these tools on a regular basis. “If you practice meditation once, and then forget all about it, it only goes so far,” Michal says.

As we navigate a post-COVID world, we should equip our workforce with the tools and resources they need to adapt and thrive. Meditation is one such tool. “This is an invitation for us to take really good care of ourselves,” Michal says. “Everytime we take a moment to slow down, see what’s in front of us, notice how we feel, or take a moment to notice something or someone, it can make all the difference in the world. If we take care of ourselves, it will impact our employees and the people around us.”

Did you know Walker Tracker has a mindfulness activity challenge ready to use? Our app includes a daily tracker that syncs with most fitness devices, so you can run a mindfulness-based activity challenge. Our Sales team is happy to help you, so let’s work together to incorporate mindfulness into your wellness program.