What has mindfulness got to do with the office party? Quite a bit, actually. Find out how the likes of meditation and yoga might just play a part in a cracking office knees-up
For many of us, the office Christmas party represents the peak of the season’s hedonism – for better or worse. But should getting jolly and letting go of our social inhibitions necessarily go hand in hand with getting totally blotto?
Mindfulness experts are working tirelessly to change our Christmas party culture – for good.
Though some may happily scoff at mindfulness as some kind of hipsterish fad, the industry is growing rapidly and has entered the mainstream. It is estimated that it generated $1.2bn in revenue in the United States last year, while here in the UK, it’s taking off on the hospitality circuit.
M Restaurant Group recently began giving staff extra days off to revitalise and practise mindfulness. It’s a smart move: studies suggest that productivity increases when staff are allowed to participate in such programmes.
Now the industry has the Christmas party in its sights, incorporating mindful elements which send the message that, although getting drunk may be royally fun, getting out of your mind on yoga and meditation might just be – wait for it – even better.
‘There’s a lot of pressure on people at Christmas to get off their face,’ says Samantha Moyo, founder and mindfulness coach of Morning Gloryville, the pre-noon dance party specialists. ‘But rather than gifting people with a massive end-of-year blowout, companies could offer a sober party with lots of massage and wellness therapists, instead of rivers of wine and other naughty stuff.’
Life's too short not to eat chocolate and drink G&Ts: it's just about creating a balance
If that sounds like a rather dry and unexciting idea, it’s worth remembering that Moyo is no party pooper: after all, her company attracted thousands of followers to the concept of the sober morning rave.
‘Christmas parties are all about adventure these days,’ she argues. ‘Get teams on a bus, take them to the countryside for a walk. After the walk, give them a really good sober party. Get everyone dancing, give them food and then end with some live music: things that really nourish the soul.’
Incorporating yoga into your office Christmas party also has profound long-term effects for employees, says Jordan Katz of Souljourn Yoga. ‘Christmas is a giving holiday,’ she says, ‘but it is also a time to ask what you can be given.’
Katz, who curates private yoga experiences that raise awareness and funds for education in developing countries, believes that Christmas is the optimal time for companies to introduce the benefits of mindfulness to their employees – a period when workers have new pressures and responsibilities, ranging from present buying to increased family commitments and expectations. ‘The holiday period can be exhausting,’ she says. ‘Learning self-care can be vital. When we are able to take care of our own needs, we can also be of better service to others.’
Merry and light
If the boozeless formula sounds like a buzzkill for your office Christmas party, Katz has more of an integrated approach that doesn’t forbid enjoying a glass or two. ‘Mindfulness isn’t about punishing yourself,’ she insists. ‘Life’s too short not to eat chocolate and drink G&Ts: it’s just about creating a balance.’
A corporate party with Souljourn Yoga involves ‘a yoga class at the beginning, either with live music or a DJ,’ explains Katz. ‘We’d end with gratitude meditation and have everybody socialise over a healthy and delicious dinner paired with organic wine. Christmas only happens once a year, so I don’t think that completely cutting out things like alcohol or sugar makes the world a happier place.’
Importantly, incorporating gong therapy, massage, yoga, meditation and healthy eating into your annual office do needn’t make your event any less fun, or any less of a surprising party.
During one of Samantha Moyo’s teambuilding activities around ‘shared experience and connection’, the entrepreneur recalls seeing a group of CEOs ‘imitating animals, making animal sounds, letting wildness out in a natural, uninhibited way’.
‘That’s really powerful,’ Moyo says. ‘People don’t ordinarily get the permission to do that.’
Now who said that doing things differently couldn’t be fun?