“The art of noticing”
Introduction to the Extend Body and Mind Program
In the current business climate, health and wellness is emerging as a key factor in employee productivity and workplace culture. Corporations are becoming more and more aware of the need to invest in the support of their employees physical and mental health to cultivate a supportive and enjoyable workplace, which in turn results in fewer absentees, a decrease in non- productive work hours, an increase in productivity and improved key performance indicators.
The self-awareness and self-management skills learned and practised in the Extend mindfulness program are relevant to not only the work place, but all areas of the employees lives. Previous trials have proven that the learnt principals of mindfulness are extrapolated by the participants across their professional and personal lives. This is what we describe as “Mindful living”.
Mindful living is a way of life. As Occupational therapists, we look at a person from a holistic perspective. We teach and role model that mindfulness does not mean the need to be ‘zen’ or still, but in fact to simply learn to live in the present.
Mindfulness gives you the skills to notice things as they are happening, without projecting your thoughts into the future, or dwelling on past events. It teaches the skill of living in the “what is” as opposed to the “what if?”
Mindfulness meditation sessions facilitate the space in which to practice true focus and present moment consciousness. The sessions create a space in which to disconnect from the world around them and focus on the "now". These sessions offer an opportunity to practice bringing together the body and the mind, to pay conscious attention to what is happening and how it feels, as it unfolds, with an element of curiosity and without judgement.
Extend Occupational Therapists are passionate about mindful living and cultivating a positive workplace culture. We work across the organisation with a people centered approach, to assess the relationship between the employees, the environment and their occupations.
“An investment into the Extend mindfulness program is multi-faceted. It is an investment in the individual staff members, the way they work within their teams and as a corporate body”
Expected outcomes of a mindful living approach in the workplace:
Mindful living and indeed mindful working, will permeate across the levels of an organisation, starting at an individual level and spreading across teams in a true cultural shift. Research into the introduction and practice of mindfulness skills in the workplace has shown a consistent improvement in the effectiveness and efficiency of a service, via the culmination of the below individual and team benefits:
An increase in the ability to focus and maintain sustained attention, by blocking out external factors including intrusive thoughts.
Increased feelings of productivity, focus and enjoyment of work; the ability to be “in the zone”
Increased cognitive flexibility
Increased creative thinking and exploration of new innovations.
More confident decision making
Increased staff enjoyment of their day to day working tasks.
Increased job satisfaction
Increased awareness of ones thought patterns
A more open-minded way of thinking (towards both project work and colleagues).
Improved overall mood in individuals
Improved team morale
Increased team collaboration and sustainable work practices
Decreased staff turnover secondary to mental health breakdown“burnout”
Increased self-awareness of mental and physical health (the connection between the two)
An increase in productivity and adherence to project deadlines and budget.
A decrease in non-productive work hours
Extend Occupational Therapy offers the following specialised groups and workshops:
"Extend body and mind" Group mindfulness meditation
A key component of the Extend OT program is to roll out regular mindfulness meditation sessions. These are aimed at up-skilling the participants. Progressive groups aim to add to the participants mindfulness ‘toolbox’ week to week, with skills they can take away and use every day, to enhance concentration, productivity, feelings of self efficacy and self-esteem.
Content and experience: Guided sessions in which the facilitator takes the participants through structured exercises, bringing together the body and mind. This includes:
Awareness of the body
Awareness of the breath
Diaphragmatic breathing techniques
Skills and techniques to promote focus and conscious attention Recognising physiological changes in the body
Recognising triggers for stress
Recognising the bodies relaxation response
Recognising and processing emotions
Techniques to recognise helpful versus unhelpful thoughts/ thought patterns
Learning to live in the “what is” instead of the “what if?”
The sessions promote “you time” where participants have an hour of time to truly focus on themselves.
One to one employee consultations:
Personalised mindfulness sessions and graded mindfulness programs are available to complement the clients physical, spiritual, emotional and vocational requirements.
Professional development workshops:
Mindfulness and stress management workshop:
Content and experience:
What is mindfulness
The science behind mindfulness: Patho-physiology and neuroplasticity.
Mindfulness and health: The impacts of stress and how mindfulness can benefit your short and long term physical and mental health.
The who’s who of the mindfulness movement: Who is using mindfulness across the world (including sporting greats, celebrities, business people and entrepreneurs).
The workshop concludes with a relaxing practical session where participants can practice mindfulness meditation techniques.
Special considerations: Participants are encouraged to wear comfortable clothing which allows them to complete basic and non-strenuous stretches.
Mindful leadership workshop:
Target participants: Executive staff and team leaders.
Content and experience: This workshop introduces practical mindfulness strategies which team leaders can implement on a personal and professional level, as team leads and mentors.
How do we keep the culture of mindfulness active across
Each workplace is unique and your Occupational Therapist will work with your teams to ensure the interventions and sessions are right for your target groups.
In most corporations this cultural shift takes a top down approach, where executives and team leader’s role model and encourage their teams to participate and emphasise mindfulness as a core value and way of working and living.
Being in the moment can be encouraged throughout the workplace with email reminders, mindful minutes, breathe and stretch breaks and regular access to guided mindfulness meditations with trained professionals from Extend.
Repetition is the key
Mindfulness is based on the principals of neuroplasticity (the ability of the brain to re-wire neural pathways for function)
Research demonstrates that mindful meditation strengthens the positive neural pathways in the brain, developing helpful patterns of thinking and responding.
As with any skill, mindfulness requires ongoing and dedicated practice. We recommend group meditation sessions are facilitated on a minimum monthly basis and participants practice their learnt skills in between times.
Mindful work spaces
The Occupational Therapists from Extend use their expertise in mindfulness, ergonomics, learning styles and sensory regulation to consult with and guide team leaders to create a more mindful working space. We look at how we can maximise the abilities of paying conscious and deliberate attention, decrease distractions, notice the present moment and use the senses to take in the environment. The aim is to create work zones which encourage productivity by getting into a state of flow, enjoyment and ultimately increase work satisfaction.
FAQ: What about mindfulness Apps?
Multiple randomised control trials demonstrate there is no substitute for facilitator lead (in person) mindfulness training.
Facilitator lead groups have proven to be more effective via regular and scheduled input, leading to increased participation and commitment including accountability to the group.
Applications for smart phones and digital media are an accessible way of continuing self-directed mindfulness practice to compliment the skills learnt in the sessions attended.