How to Practice Mindfulness at Work
Mindfulness is being focused on and living in the present moment. Not worrying about tomorrow or beating yourself up about what happened yesterday, mindfulness offers many benefits to anyone willing to build it into their daily life. But fitting it into a busy workday can be difficult. Emails, phone calls, and meetings pile up. The to-do list lengthens. Fires need putting out. How can one apply the principles of mindfulness to keep them more balanced, alive, and present?
Making the shift to mindfulness allows an individual to be more productive, creative, and focused. One needn’t take time out of their day to sit and meditate for 10 or 20 minutes. Mindfulness can be done on the fly and over a short period of time. The following article details how one can be mindful during their chaotic workday.
Practicing Mindfulness at Work
When you first get into the office, don’t start on your pile of work sitting on your desk right away. Begin with a brief five to ten minute mindfulness practice. Close your eyes, relax, lower your shoulders, and sit in an upright position. Take deep breaths and focus on your inhalations and exhalations. Stay present and silent if you can. Any time your mind begins to wander to the work you have to do today, simply return to the breath and center yourself before the busy day ahead of you. Do this in the car before you walk into the office if need be. Focus attention on yourself as you start your day as many others will be demanding your attention over the next eight hours.
There are a handful of ways to practice mindfulness during the workday. One way is to pick a mantra. Begin your morning with an affirming message to yourself and repeat it throughout the day. Examples include: “I am reliable, responsible, and respected” or “Peace begins with me” or “I’m excited about today. It is going to be productive and fulfilling.” Keep the mantras present tense and positive.
Focus on your breath. Deep breaths and slow breathing are known to alleviate stress. During a hectic workday, focusing on the breath allows you to slow down and stay present. Deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth can be done anywhere. At your desk, in a meeting, during a presentation.
Write out what you are grateful for. Before ending your day, write down at least one positive thing that happened during your day and reflect on why it made you happy. Focus on the positive. Gratitude has been shown to increase mental strength and will inevitably lead to lasting happiness. Training your brain to remain grateful and present will help you be more productive and resilient.
The more you practice these mindfulness techniques during your workday, the more you will get out of work and the more you will get done!
Another way to be mindful at work is to dedicate one’s mind to being present. There is a lot to juggle at work much of the time, but in order to be more productive, one must train one’s mind to stop being mindless and on autopilot.
Here are some pointers on how to stay present:
- Start your workday with the intention of being present to the best of your ability.
- Make a concerted effort to work more consciously, exerting yourself fully in each task that sits before you.
- Focus on the positive aspects of working mindfully in a way that will help motivate you throughout your day.
- Stay in tune with your senses instead of getting totally lost in your mind with what you are thinking about.
- Be fully attentive to anything you do throughout the day, including the unexciting tasks such as washing your hands, opening doors, dialing a phone number or breathing.
Dedicate yourself to being mindful and help yourself out by reminding yourself throughout the day. Doing things without thinking is fine sometimes, but doing that too often can allow you to get lost in your own thoughts. Get out of that autopilot mode by reminding yourself to be mindful.
Some tips include setting an alarm on your phone, adding a calendar reminder, putting a small sticky note on your desk, associating activities with mindfulness such as eating a meal or sitting in a meeting or using the sounds of rings or bells in the workplace as little dings or reminders to help you remember to be mindful. Don’t become a slave to your phone, checking it instinctively for what that text or email says. Be aware of your surroundings. Be in the present. Take the time to do each task to the best of your ability rather than trying to do a million things at once. Respond and reflect. Don’t react.
Where to practice mindfulness at work?
Mindfulness can be practiced anywhere and anytime during the workday.
One suggestion is to take a leisurely and relaxing lunch break. Though many of us try to power through the day without getting up from our desks even for lunch, it is much more beneficial to take at least one long break during the day to step away from it all and recharge the batteries. Eat your lunch outside or in the cafeteria. Go for a quick power walk. Find a quiet, calming place to sit with your thoughts. Taking a break will lead to a more productive afternoon and will bring greater awareness to your day, especially when you eventually hit that 2:30 wall.
As the day progresses and meetings back up one after the other, mindfulness can help you facilitate shorter and more effective meetings. Practice mindfulness on your way to the meeting. Think about what you are doing, where you are going, and what you intend to accomplish or bring to the table.
So, when you walk into the meeting you will be ready to hit the ground running. Make sure you take time in between meetings to center yourself again before going to the next meeting. A mindful transition is paramount to maintaining a high level of productivity instead of simply beating around the bush.
How Long Should I Be Mindful at Work?
The more times you practice mindfulness at work the better. As long as it does not detract from your daily responsibilities, make it a priority. In the end, you will see many benefits in your work and workplace relationships. Mindfulness exercises in turn help your mind become more mindful. The more you do it, the more natural your brain will function in that mindful state.
Finding 15 to 30 minutes to squeeze in a mindfulness exercise can be problematic during the day. One need not be mindful all day at work. One can be mindful as long or as short as they wish. Simply one minute of staying in tune with your senses and the present moment counts as a mindful exercise.
Eyes do not need to be closed.
One needn’t even be seated.
Taking the time, any amount of time, to destress from the massive pressure courtesy of your workflow can be a huge benefit to your nervous system, allowing you to make much more rational decisions instead of instinctively reacting to situations.
Employer and Employee Mindfulness at Work
Ensuring that you include self care at work is extremely necessary in reducing stress and being productive and fulfilled at your job. An employee should practice mindfulness in between tasks. Take some time to stretch, take deep breaths or go for a short walk. Employers should learn to be mindful in keeping meetings to a minimum and to their most productive amount of time. Employers and employees alike should also change their approach to stress by making it their friend.
The next challenge you face at work, notice how your body physically reacts to that stress. Your breathing accelerates, your heart rate speeds up, maybe you sweat a little. Instead of stressing yourself out more, observe your body’s reaction and allow it to energize you.
Note that your body is merely preparing for the challenge ahead of you and be grateful for the process that will undoubtedly sharpen your senses. By seeing stress from this perspective, you will view this challenge as a positive obstacle to overcome as opposed to an insurmountable roadblock in your way.
Another way to handle stress and be mindful in the workplace is to cut out the negative thinking and focus on gratitude. Don’t dwell on everything that has gone wrong. Instead, emphasize what has gone right. By removing yourself from that downward spiral of negative thinking, you will transform yourself and better yourself through gratitude.
This practice will spike your creativity, make you healthier, more productive, and maintain fulfilling relationships at work. Don’t dwell on how much you hate your job and don’t get along with people you work with, alternatively, remember how lucky you are to have a job and are making a living for yourself and your family.
One can also work on being humble in their mindfulness practice at work. People who are humble are more confident about themselves and their ability to get the job done. Don’t tell someone what good a job you are doing or are going to do. Show them. Lead by example. Let your work speak for itself. Don’t let your ego get the best of you. Mindfulness is linked to humility because it is about accepting yourself exactly as you are. By being grateful as mentioned above, one can then be humble by appreciating how others have helped you.
One can try the following to develop more humility in the workplace:
Mindful exercises that connect you to your soul. In other words, widen your attention to others by being more aware of yourself and how you interact with others as opposed to remaining trapped in your mind.
Remember who assisted you with your work or who helped you get to where you are today. Be grateful for your family, your significant other or your employer who helped you get this position. Taking the time to identify how many people help you each and everyday is a gratifying and fulfilling mindfulness practice.
Appreciate yourself and others. Say thank you. Be sincere. Remind others that you value their help, especially when it was unsolicited. This practice should be extended outside the workplace as well.
Listen to others and value their opinion. Do not judge. Be open to others people’s point of view. Do not be quick to argue and defend your point. Consider that they may have a point as well. This consideration is another solid mindfulness exercise to try out in the workplace and at home.
And finally, one should also endeavor to develop a growth mindset at work in their dedication to mindfulness.
Those with a fixed mindset are doomed to not reach their full potential. They believe that their intelligence and talents are fixed traits that cannot be changed. Therefore, these individuals do not work to improve or develop themselves because they believe their talent alone will lead to success. This way of thinking sets one up for failure and has been proven factually wrong scientifically.
People with a growth mindset, however, believe they can improve upon their inherit intelligence and talents with concerted effort. By being present, mindful, and dedicated to their craft, they improve upon themselves and reach their full potential. Hard work and determination are the cornerstones to success and one’s intelligence and talents can be increased over time. These people are therefore more resilient and perform much more admirably at work.
A growth mindset is key to mindfulness. Being mindful requires paying attention to the present moment and not talking yourself into thinking you cannot become a better, more productive person. Being open to new possibilities and committing to growth allows one to take on additional responsibilities and earn respect and admiration from one’s peers. Tackling challenges and seeing them as opportunities for growth, mindful people dedicated to developing a growth mindset inevitably bring inner growth by living in the moment and constantly discovering new things about themselves and others.
Take action and develop this growth mindset. Doing so will allow you to handle any challenge that comes your way in the workplace. Do not view things as something you cannot do. Simply see them for what they are and try your best to accomplish it. Failure is essential to growth and success.
Successful people fail all the time. Don’t talk yourself out of doing something because you think you’re not smart enough or don’t have the skills. Try it out. See for yourself. You will learn and grow in the process. Being mindful involves thinking things out and being objective about reality. There is no other way to go about living and working. Live in the now and be present for yourself, your workplace, your coworkers, and your family.
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