One of the best ways to strengthen the mental muscle used on construction jobsites is mindfulness training. Not only can it improve work performance, mindfulness training also gives construction workers a simple tool to reduce stress and enhance mental wellbeing.
Mindfulness training teaches people how to center and calm the mind in as little at 20 minutes a day. In a mindfulness program, participants learn how to pay attention in the present moment without judgment. Though mindfulness is often taught as a seated meditation-style practice (described below), it can also be taught as mindful-movement as in yoga, or while engaged in walking, or any daily chore or task.
Some of the many benefits of mindfulness practice include:
- reduced symptoms of stress, worry, anxiety and depression
- improvement in cognition, working memory and higher order thinking and planning
- enhancing the brain’s ability to tune out distractions and sustain concentration
- enhanced emotional intelligence (e.g. keeping anger and judgment in check when dealing with difficult situations or people)
- lower blood pressure
- improvement in ratings of chronic pain
- improved sleep
Yoga for Hard Hats
Mindful movement programs are becoming popular at construction worksites. In fact, in many countries, including locations in the U.S., hard hats begin their day with yoga. Allan Nett, a 29-year veteran of the construction industry, turned to yoga to help cope with work-related physical and mental stress. It also improved his work performance by helping him maintain flexibility, strength, and reduce risk for injury.
Yoga with Your Boots On ® is Nett’s stretching program for construction workers. A certified yoga teacher, Nett customized several key yoga stretches for hard hats to perform while still in their work gear (no stretchy yoga pants required!). Nett’s yoga stretches are aptly named after construction equipment: T-square, Framing Square, Plumb Bob, Right Angle.
His “blue -collar yoga” and mindfulness programs have been featured in The Wall Street Journal and at various builder conferences.
How to Practice Mindfulness Meditation
A regular mindfulness practice is as simple as 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the evening. Here’s how to do it:
- Sit or lay in a comfortable position
- Focus on your breathing. Notice the sensation of breath as it passes into, and out of, the nose, lungs, and belly.
- As thoughts bubble up in your mind, refocus on the breath and allow those thoughts to be carried away with each exhalation until you are again attuned to the ebb and flow of your breathing.
- Make no judgment about thoughts or sensations that arise. These are neither good nor bad. Observe them, breathe, and let go.
- As your practice progresses, allow your awareness to expand from your breath to sounds or other sensations in your body. Notice, breathe and let go.
To bring a mindfulness training to your company, search online for mindfulness meditation instructions. Your EAP office may also have suggestions. To find hard hat friendly yoga programs, reach out to Alan Nett for referrals or inquire with local yoga studios for a corporate program customized to the needs of construction crews.Last modified on Sunday, 21 May 2017