Recently, I was triggered by someone describing mindfulness as useless for stress and burnout. My fingers immediately hit the keyboard to correct their mistake. Lucky for me, my screen froze, and I lost my rebuttal. Funny how my laptop often saves me from myself. So, let’s clear a few things up.

Mindfulness is a multipurpose life hack. It’s not (and never has been) purely a calming or relaxation technique. Feeling calm and relaxed is a happy side-effect, not the purpose.

Sure, if you’re stressed, take a few deep breaths, connect with your body and breath. It can hold you steady until the storm passes. And knowing how to manage your mindset is paramount (because most stress comes down to how your mind processes things) but mindfulness is not a band-aid for stress.

The real purpose of mindfulness is to step out of your primitive emotional reactive brain and into your smarter pre-frontal cortex. The point of mindfulness is – to respond at your best – not the reactive mindless version of yourself (you know the one!?).

Mindfulness then, is about being the best possible version of yourself, and I can assure you, that won’t happen with a relaxation technique!

We’re unlikely to make any difference to stress in the workplace until mindfulness is applied as a practice to wake people up.

We need people in positions of power to extinguish outdated systems and sanctioned workplace practices that increase the stress that should have been abandoned decades ago.

Until businesses stop treating people like rats on a treadmill, squeezing out their very last drop of productivity, stress statistics will continue to soar.

We need to redefine mindfulness not as a calming technique, but as a tool for training people (especially leaders) to reconnect with their own humanity and human-centric values, which is what mindfulness is really all about.

We need leaders who are awake!