Mindfulness in WC: Where to begin & WHY?

Why is mindfulness so important? Your mindset determines you attitude. Your attitude determines your outlook on what is in front of you, what comes before you, and how you choose to interact with customers, colleagues, friends, family, and of course, injured workers.

Taking a positive approach to your mindset through mindfulness practices can help foster a more empathic and customer centric approach. Even more so, this all begins and ends with you! This is all housed within your own circle of control. The power comes from within, making the decision to have a positive impact on your life and those who surround you… and the best part… you get to determine how much or how little of effort you put forth.

Not only does mindfulness help improve your outlook on life and your attitude, you can discover ways to help others through the same process. Aside from the fluffy feel good emotions, mindfulness helps calm your central nervous system, identify and filter thoughts, filter your environment, develop your future self, and can easily be worked into your day…if you prioritize it.


The daily practice of gratitude sets a positive tone for the day. This can be the most simple of things: having a bed to sleep in, air to fill your lungs, fresh water to drink. Continued practice of gratitude helps you see the positive by changing the way you think and approach situations. Even when days seem tough or feel hard, simply getting out of bed can be a win. The practice of gratitude helps move you out of the rut into a space of peace by opening your mind to new solutions. Gratitude has a three step process: 1. Recognize, 2. Acknowledge, 3. Appreciate. The daily habit of gratitude has found to lead to better sleep, reductions in physical pain, and a better sense of resilience when handling change.

Aside from the benefits this has on your own life, try facilitating this with an injured worker. As an adjuster, a nurse case manager, a physical therapist, or a medical care provider, anyone can use gratitude as a talking point. For example, if a physical therapist has not seen her patient over a weekend, she could ask the injured worker to tell her three good things that happened since the last time they saw one another or three things the injured worker is now able to do that they could not perform before. This can become a simple conversational piece worked in no matter your role in the workers’ compensation industry. While this might seem hard and scripted at first, the tone will change, it will get easier, and yield positive outcomes as connection points moving into the future.

Goals – What would be awesome if you completed it today?

Establishing small wins throughout your day helps you build momentum for ongoing and continued success. These can be small things in which you to-do list is built or items you need to take time and make effort to tackle. Break down some of your larger goals in life to smaller bite size pieces. Consistency and progress will get you in the right direction. For example, lots of us work towards industry designations and they can seem like a monster to get through when studying alone. If you want to achieve your Associate in Risk Management (ARM), you need to complete three tests. Start with one, let’s say ARM 400. Make yourself a small goal to read five pages each day. Break down the big goals to accomplish daily small goals. Just begin!!

This works with injured workers as well. Let’s say an injured worker sustains a shoulder injury in the fall and needs to have surgery to repair the damage. What are goals the injured worker has to get back to their life? The injured worker may play in a golf league or in a recreational softball league. There. You now can focus on this goal throughout the recovery phase. If you can focus on the positive highlights of the injured workers’ life, the work pieces will fall into place. The injured worker is going to need to work on shoulder range of motion to get back onto the golf course or to swing a bat for his team, and also to return to his pre-injury employment. Find the enjoyable likenesses that can cross over to work and personal. This makes a more positive approach to healing the injured worker as a whole person rather than simply focusing on the work tasks of their life. Injured workers tend to have more elements than simply the job listed on the First Report of Injury. Take the time to dig in and figure out what is going to motivate to get the tone set for the road to recovery. Then break it down into bite size pieces you can focus on when you check in to see how the achievement process is working. Accountability is now established.

Daily Affirmation

It takes approximately 67 days to rewire your neuropathways in your brain. Help make it easier for your brain by deciding to set an intention each day through an affirmation starting with: “I am…” This can work for everyone such as an injured worker going through physical therapy can use affirmations to push through challenging exercise sets by reiterating to themselves, “I am strong; I can do this.” You can use affirmations to take that next career move, increase your self-confidence, and change the tone for how you approach your day or your life, “I was made to do this, I got this.”

Evening Gratitude

What are you thankful for or what happened today that was awesome? Every day may not be great but there is always some good that can be found within each day. This is the time to reflect upon what transpired. If it really was not that great of a day, what are you looking forward to going home to do or whom are you going home to see? What is there in your personal life that you can express thanks towards to changing the script for your evening? This helps the brain shift from work to personal and also helps remind you of the much needed work:life balance. Understanding why you are doing what you do for the life you have not only produces feelings of purpose but also assists with the meaning behind the work you are doing.

If you notice an injured worker is struggling during time off work or through the recovery process, encourage the shift to gratitude. It is an opportunity time to suggest this may help with their recovery. Take a moment at night to reflect on things that are available. The world is full of beauty, sometimes we just forget to see what is right in front of us.


Many times we have a to-do list… and they can be long! Some days you will cross of many items from this list and other times, you will only get a couple things done. Establishing a moment to reflect on three accomplishments or a to-done list will help you see how far you are coming and also see how you spend your time during the day. This helps with what targets you completed to achieve feelings of accomplishment, purpose, and productivity.  

Help injured workers identify wins in their life. Sometimes the light dims when someone injures themselves. Finding little flecks of light can be emphasized and when done so repeatedly, the little wins become the big wins. It can change perception and help with recovery time. The mind is powerful!

Failure Reflection

What could have gone better? Did you use your time wisely? Take time to reflect on what could have gone better and replay it in your mind to the positive outcome you would like to have had occur. Failure is the first attempt in learning, so fail often! Taking the lesson from the learning and applying it by reflection helps you not continue making the same mistake and helps you identify the area(s) of your life you would like to improve. This also helps achieve baby steps into the right direction to produce meaningful change.

This is a great topic to discuss with your injured worker. A lot of times, we hear negativity at the forefront of conversations. If this happens, talk about it and listen. What is not working? Why is it not working? What control or ownership does the injured worker have and what control do you? Is there something that can be moved, rescheduled, made easier? Are there communication barriers that can be improved? Having this ongoing dialogue can make the workers’ compensation process flow much smoother because of the open, transparent communication. At the conclusion of your time period with an injured worker whether it be the closing of the claim or the end of medical treatment, ask what could have gone better? This creates opportunity for the injured worker to be heard and for our own personal reflection of what we can do better next time.

Small things done day after day, week after week, month after month yield change. Organizing your time helps organize your mind to put forth energy and effort where it needs to go.

Resources & Helpful Hints

Looking for ways to make this easier? Look for the ‘Best Self’ journal or the ‘Five-Minute Journal’ on Amazon. Not into writing things down? Set yourself a reminder in the morning for gratitude, three goals, and your daily affirmation. Running through these mentally while you are driving to work can help set you with a positive tone for the day. Want to add these concepts into your morning routine? Write them on your mirror for reflection as you get ready. This can also help prompt you in the evening when you are getting ready for bed. Share these thoughts with your injured workers! It will help their recovery process.

Establish a morning routine so this becomes second nature. Same with an evening routine. Start and end your day with gratitude. Those first initial thoughts of your morning frame the tone for your entire day. Ending your day with gratitude can ease anxiety and anxiousness to help you sleep a deeper, uninterrupted slumber. Give yourself grace to know this takes practice. Most things that take practice are worth it and you will see the benefits. Keep up and keep after it. Make sure to smile daily. Most smiles are started by another smile. Be the smile that creates the ripple. And lastly, move. Whatever moving looks like for you from running or walking the dog, to dancing or yoga, move your body. It will thank you.