New Therapies

Mindfulness in the Workplace

National survey data show a rise in mindfulness-based activities within various occupations and employment status.


Mindfulness practices, such as meditation, yoga, tai chi, and qigong, are on the rise in the workplace, as more studies show how they can improve health and reduce the costs of stress.

Researchers who analyzed data on 85,004 respondents to the National Health Interview Survey say that their findings are “encouraging”; about 1 in 7 workers report engaging in some form of mindfulness-based activity. From 2002 to 2012, the number of yoga practitioners nearly doubled from 6% to 11%. From 2002 to 2007, the number of people who began meditating increased from 8% to 9.9%.

Related: Mindfulness to Reduce Stress

The rise in activity was seen across different groups of workers. In 2002, 2.2% of farm workers reported engaging in at least 1 of the practices studied, as did 18.2% of white-collar workers in 2007. Mindfulness found a foothold among 9% to 12% of the unemployed as well.

Still the trend is mostly seen among white-collar workers, attributable mainly to differences in household income and education level, the researchers say. After they controlled for those 2 factors, blue-collar workers were still less likely to engage in meditation or yoga, and farm workers were less likely to engage in any of the 4 practices.

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But the lack of engagement among blue-collar and farm workers can’t be explained by sociodemographic factors alone, the researchers say. White-collar workers may have more time, access, and opportunity to practice mindfulness and might have different beliefs about the value of these practices.

Lack of engagement could be ameliorated in part by developing interventions to target those occupational groups, the researchers suggest. They found no studies that focused on blue-collar or farm workers—the low prevalence of mindfulness practices in those groups indicates a “pressing need” for interventions, even though those workplace settings may present “unique implementation challenges.”

Related: Mindfulness as a Tool for Patients With Cancer

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