By Dr. Christine Manukyan, founder and CEO of STORRIE Wellness™.
Demand seems to be increasing for wellness at work.
We know that a focus on wellness is good for us—as individuals and as a society—especially when it comes to addressing mental health challenges like burnout, stress and depression. Employers are rightly feeling the need to make changes not just for the health of their workers but also for the health of their businesses.
After all, mental health is a pressing issue. Taking a proactive approach to mental and emotional wellness could help employees manage stress, burnout and anxiety.
As the founder and CEO of a company that offers breathwork services, I believe breathwork is one great tool to offer for employees looking to improve their well-being.
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You may ask, "But Dr. Christine, don't we all breathe? So I am already doing breathwork, correct?"
Let's not confuse breathing with breathwork. On average, you take roughly 20,000 breaths per day. The primary goal of breathing is to supply oxygen to the body's cells and tissues, supporting various bodily functions. This typically happens subconsciously. On the other hand, breathwork is something you practice consciously and with intention.
Breathwork refers to a range of therapeutic techniques and practices that focus on conscious control and manipulation of breathing patterns. It encompasses a variety of techniques that are designed to cultivate self-awareness and promote physical, mental, emotional, cognitive and spiritual well-being. Some people in corporate America use breathwork to reduce stress and increase focus, retention and productivity.
Breathwork often involves intentional, deep and rhythmic breathing exercises. There are several types of breathwork, including diaphragmatic breathing, pranayama, holotropic breathwork and the Wim Hof method, each with its own specific methods and goals.
When we feel better, we do better... in life and at work. Additionally, supporting your employees during times of stress and overwhelm is a huge win. Employees are more than just corporate workers. They are husbands, wives, partners, mothers and fathers. It's important to support them in all areas of their lives.
Breathwork is believed to have various benefits, such as reducing anxiety, improving focus and concentration, supporting emotional release and enhancing overall well-being. However, it's essential to approach breathwork with awareness and caution, as altering breathing patterns may not be suitable for everyone, especially those with certain medical conditions.
How To Choose A Breathwork Practitioner
Despite what you think you may know about breathwork, starting is simple. But like anything else in life, it is a practice and is best practiced consistently for optimal results.
Working with an experienced practitioner is helpful. They will lead you and your employees to the best techniques and guide you through the process.
When choosing a breathwork practitioner for your company's wellness benefit, it's essential to consider several factors:
1. Qualifications and training: Look for a breathwork practitioner who has received formal training and certification in breathwork techniques from a reputable organization or school. Ask about their background and experience in the field.
2. Experience and reputation: Seek out practitioners with a proven track record and positive reputation. Read reviews and testimonials from previous clients to get a sense of their effectiveness and professionalism.
3. Safety measures: A responsible breathwork practitioner will prioritize safety during sessions. They should thoroughly explain the techniques, potential risks and guidelines for participants.
4. Ethical practices: Choose a practitioner who adheres to ethical standards and respects the privacy and confidentiality of their clients.
5. Client-centered approach: Look for a practitioner who tailors their breathwork sessions to the individual needs and goals of each client. They should be compassionate, empathetic and able to address specific concerns or challenges your employees may have.
6. Communication and listening skills: A skilled breathwork practitioner should actively listen to employees' needs, concerns and feedback. They should be open to answering questions and providing support as needed.
7. Integration support: A good practitioner should offer support and guidance for integrating the experiences and insights gained during breathwork sessions into employees' daily lives. This may involve post-session discussions or suggested practices for self-reflection.
Empowering And Encouraging Employees To Participate
Introducing breathwork as part of an employee wellness program can be a valuable option to support your workforce. To empower and encourage employees to participate in breathwork, consider the following steps:
1. Educate employees about breathwork: Begin by raising awareness about breathwork and its potential benefits. Use emails, posters and workshops to share knowledge about breathwork.
2. Offer workshops and training sessions: Organize introductory workshops or training sessions led by qualified breathwork practitioners. Make these workshops interactive and engaging to generate interest and enthusiasm.
3. Demonstrate leadership support: Leadership support plays a crucial role in promoting wellness initiatives. If managers and executives actively participate in breathwork sessions, they send a strong message to employees.
4. Create a welcoming environment: Ensure that the workplace is conducive to breathwork sessions. Designate a quiet and comfortable area for employees to practice breathwork or meditation. Encourage employees to take short breaks during the day for a few minutes of breathwork to recharge and refocus.
5. Flexible scheduling: Be mindful of employees' workloads and commitments, and offer flexible scheduling options for breathwork sessions. Consider organizing sessions during lunch breaks or before/after work hours to accommodate different schedules.
6. Incorporate breathwork in wellness challenges: Integrate breathwork into wellness challenges or programs that encourage employees to participate actively. For example, you could create a "mindfulness month" with weekly breathwork exercises or challenges.
7. Provide resources and apps: Offer resources, such as guided breathwork exercises (live or virtual) with breathwork practitioners or mindfulness apps, to support employees in their practice outside of formal sessions. Point them toward reputable apps or online platforms.
By following these steps, you can foster a culture of well-being and make breathwork an integral part of your employee wellness program. Remember that wellness initiatives tend to be most effective when they are holistic, inclusive and supported by leadership and the organization as a whole.
The information provided here is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for advice concerning your specific situation.