Analysis: Practicing mindfulness comes with innumerable benefits, however some research studies suggest that the useful effects of mindfulness may varies under different settings and among different participants.

The world has experienced unforeseen disruption due to COVID-19. Many employees have lost their jobs, due to the cost-cutting measures of otherwise profitable businesses, and those retained have adapted to the new normal of working from home.

The offices which were filled with the laughter of employees are now all deserted. Daily routines of getting up early to get ready to go to work are all disrupted.

The situations created by the pandemic have impacted the mental state of almost all individuals across different age groups throughout the world.

Worry and anxiety have dramatically increased with a study by the University of Limerick indicating that six out of every ten employees ended up feeling more stressed since the beginning of the pandemic. The research data also indicates that women are more affected.

There's been a reduction in learning outcomes, retention level, focus and happiness meaning this complex situation cannot be ignored. At the same time, it needs to be addressed urgently and requires utmost attention of one and all.

One of the major reasons behind worry and anxiety is considered to be the tendency of humans to either ruminate about the past or keep overthinking about the future.

Most of us decline to dwell in the present which is where a practice called mindfulness comes into play. Mindfulness is an age-old practice and has its roots in Buddhism. It's about being present, believing and living in the here and now without worrying about what happened in the past or thinking about what would happen in the future.

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On Radio 1's Today with Claire Byrne, Niall O'Murchu, Certified Wim Hof Breathing Instructor, Professor Rose Anne Kenny, Professor of Medical Gerontology at Trinity College and St. James's Hospital talk about the health benefits of cold showers and a breathing technique.

There are several benefits associated with practicing mindfulness. Improvements to physical and mental well-being, in addition to extending attention spans, have been clearly demonstrated by research in the field.

Furthermore, it leads to better self-control, increases objectivity of perceptions, and enhances flexible thinking. In addition, it brings improvements in self-regulation, cognitive capacities, and emotional intelligence as well as reducing stress, rumination and boosts working memory.

Those benefits make the concept of mindfulness relevant and important to people today. The pandemic has disrupted people’s routines and plans making them more apprehensive, making them feel left out. If people engage in the practice of mindfulness, then they would learn to live in the present with grace and gratitude.

Simple strategies for practicing mindfulness can include controlling our own breathing, practicing yoga, or simply closing your eyes and visualising a soothing beach.

Given the current situation of working from home, virtual training for employees to practice mindfulness in their daily lives is very likely to help them feel rejuvenated. It may also empower them to focus more on the present, instead of repenting about the past or agonising about the future.

Advancements in technology have also enabled people to practice mindfulness meditation programs via smartphone applications.

Mindfulness apps such as Headspace, Smiling Mind, Balance and Calm are freely available for everyone who wish to engage in the practice. These apps comprise not only various types of meditation and breathing exercises but also illustrates the concept of mindful eating.

Practicing mindfulness comes with innumerable benefits, however some research studies suggest that the useful effects of mindfulness may varies under different settings and among different participants.

Though there is a lack of literature on it, a study by the University of Cambridge clearly illustrates how numerous courses on mindfulness can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression (SAD), thereby contributing towards mental wellbeing within most but not all non-clinical settings.

It also concluded that mindfulness may be no better than other practices aimed at improving wellbeing and therefore is not a universal panacea.

There are research articles stating that mindfulness does not work for everyone, thereby is not successful for every individual.

In this context, the positionality of the employers is a crucial component and will help them decide if they should train and encourage their employees to practice mindfulness or not. Yet if it works well for a small percentage of the population, it's worth trying.

The views expressed here are those of the author and do not represent or reflect the views of RTÉ