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The Occupational Health team can provide you with confidential advice to manage work related problems and help you to find the right wellbeing support for you.

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Staff mindfulness

Mindfulness Groups for Staff at the University of Exeter

To enhance staff wellbeing and reduce stress, it is necessary to both reduce the underlying workplace drivers that cause stress in the first place and equip individuals with skills to manage their own resilience. Mindfulness approaches are one proven way to help individuals build wellbeing and manage stress to achieve the latter. They introduce people to a model of how their own patterns of thinking and responding can be used to maximise resilience and thriving and reduce workplace stress, and train individuals to use mindfulness techniques to build effective patterns of thought and behaviour.

Following a successful pilot evaluation in 2020, the University of Exeter is now offering colleagues a variety of ways to engage in mindfulness offerings.These follow similar models of care delivered in a variety of NHS settings for staff wellbeing and are being led by an experienced mindfulness clinical team at our own Mood Disorders Centre.

Option 1: Attend an eight week Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy for Life course (MBCT-L); a 2 hour group session each week delivered via Zoom

Option 2: Attend monthly one hour lunch time drop in sessions (via Zoom) that will facilitate mindfulness practice and is suitable for those already with a meditation practice or who are new to it

Option 3: Attend bi-monthly two hour skills classes that will introduce you to the theory and practice of mindfulness and the chance to reflect on practice. You can either drop into occasional sessions or attend all six, all via Zoom.

These offerings are being delivered by experienced mindfulness teachers and mental health clinicians who are used to supporting individuals to learn mindfulness in both workplace and NHS settings. Administrative support is provided by Katie Stewart who can answer any queries about the programmes.

You can express an interest in engaging with these courses by following this linkProvisional places on a group will be allocated on a first come first served basis. Once a group is full we will run a reserve list in case people withdraw. After being offered a preliminary space, you will have a 1:1 meeting with the mindfulness trainer to orient to the group and to double check that this is a good option for you (if you are suffering from significant current mental health symptoms you may instead be signposted to other sources of help).

Information webinar: A 30 minute webinar from Professor Barney Dunn and Kay Octigan (a mindfulness trainer and teacher) to give you a flavour of what mindfulness practice involves, can be viewed online.

Mindfulness is a simple and powerful practice of training our attention. It involves learning to pay attention to what is happening in the ‘here and now’ (i.e. sensations, thoughts, and emotions) in a non-judgemental way. It can be helpful because it can interrupt the habit of getting lost in thoughts, mostly about the future or past, which often generates more stress on top of the real pressures of everyday life.

Mindfulness offers not only a way of reducing stress and preventing low mood, it also holds potential to improve the way we live, helping us to thrive and be resilient at work and in our broader lives.

The Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Life (MBCT-L) curriculum is a new mindfulness course to make mindfulness practices and cognitive-behavioural techniques more accessible to all. It is an eight week group programme, which will have approximately 15 attendees.

It uses evidence-based teaching principles and practices that have been shown to promote the progressive development of mindfulness skills and bring about lasting changes in wellbeing and stress management.

Participants will come away better equipped to self-regulate their stress levels, cope with difficulty, and also access a sense of savouring and appreciation for what’s good in their lives.

The sessions will explore the essential principles of mindfulness through a combination of guided meditation practices, insightful exercises, and group discussion around the practical applications of mindfulness in everyday life. The group is open to all members of staff at the university, irrespective of your current levels of stress or wellbeing.

This MBCT-L pilot group is being run by experienced mindfulness practitioners at the Mood Disorders Centre in the University, who have led a successful NHS mindfulness service for a number of years and been involved in research developing and evaluating mindfulness approaches.

The course will run weekly for eight weeks on Fridays at 2.30pm – 4pm, starting 20/09/2019 and running until 08/11/2019. You need to be able to make all of the sessions and commit to some home practice in between sessions. You will be asked to take part in a research project evaluating the group, to help decide whether groups of this kind should be offered more broadly by the university.

The group will run on a first come, first served basis.

If you are interested in considering taking part, to express your interest, please e-mail Rachel Milne at the Mood Disorders Centre. She will then get back in touch to discuss this further with you.

We would also be very grateful for any feedback about whether mindfulness groups of this kind would be a welcome addition for staff at the university, so please also complete the following two item (very brief!) survey

  • Janssen et al (2018) Effects of mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction on employees mental health: A systematic review. PLOS One.
  • Bartlett et al (2019) A systematic review and meta-analysis of workplace mindfulness training randomized controlled trials. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology.
  • Lomas et al (2018) Mindfulness-based interventions in the workplace: An inclusive systematic review and meta-analysis of their impact upon wellbeing. The Journal of Positive Psychology.