Today I will be talking through practicing mindfulness at work.
Mindfulness is an oasis of calm in our busy lives, a time to check in with ourselves and simply be instead of do.
And the wonderful thing is, this dedicated daily session of focused presence has a spill over effect: we generally find that we’re better able to navigate the challenges of everyday life thanks to our practice.
And that’s excellent news, because the goal of mindfulness is a better, more aware, positive and peaceful life both while practicing and during the times when you are not.
When you’re busy at work, your thoughts can seem to scatter all over the place. That’s where practicing mindfulness can help. Being fully present can increase your productivity and help you find clarity in any situation.
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What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness, simply put, is being consciously present moment by moment, and having an awareness of yourself and your surroundings in the present, rather than focusing on the past or future.
Despite the hectic nature of our modern-day world, practicing mindfulness encourages self-awareness, acceptance, and taking in the moment. It allows you to truly focus on what you’re doing right now.
Mindfulness stems from ancient Buddhist meditation teachings, but Jon Kabat-Zinn adapted the concept in 1979.
Over the last few years, mindfulness has gained a lot of popularity. This may be due to more mainstream coverage, publications like Mindful, and the power of social media!
After doing some research, I also found that mindfulness is often used in therapy. This is because it’s thought to help with anxiety and stress!
Mindfulness means stepping away from multi-tasking, being calmer and more focused, and striving to be gentler with ourselves and those around us.
When mindfulness becomes part of your daily practice at work, it will increase creativity and productivity by improving focus, attention, and behaviour.
Even if your company isn’t ready to jump on this trend, though, there are simple ways you can improve your own workplace experience by practicing mindfulness.
What are the benefits of Mindfulness?
Mindfulness has a lot of benefits for your overall well-being – here are a few important points.
MINDFULNESS INCREASES FOCUS
We have a lot of things to cross off our to-do list every day. It would be simple if we could finish one by one easily.
But I find that whenever I am ready to do a task, I am reminded of something else that needs to be done. It makes me anxious because it is unfinished. Then I feel the stress rising. I am not able to concentrate on the current task.
I feel overwhelmed.
In such moments, I do a mindfulness meditation exercise (read below to see how to do it). It calms my mind and helps me relax. I am able to concentrate on the task at hand better.
Mindfulness helps you increase focus and concentration because you are making an effort to bring your attention to the present moment repeatedly.
It even has the power to change your brain. The effect of mindfulness practice can last long even when you are not consciously doing it because new neuron connections are formed through neuroplasticity.
It’s amazing, right?
MINDFULNESS REDUCES STRESS AND ANXIETY
When you practice mindfulness, you are more aware of your thoughts. So, if any thought comes up that gives you stress you try to acknowledge it.
You say to yourself “Ok”. This is stressing me out. Back to the task”. So you get to respond to your negative thoughts rather than being controlled by it.
You can choose to step back from them as you are mindful of your emotional state. You acknowledge your thoughts and you are able to respond rather than react to it.
MINDFULNESS IMPROVES PHYSICAL HEALTH
Research has proved that our brain has the ability to influence the body’s inflammatory responses. Our brain and immune system are interconnected.
Mindfulness meditation can be used as a pathway to train our brain to control stress reaction and prevent a lot of stress-based diseases.
It also improves your memory retention, promotes heart health, improves the quality of sleep, etc.
WHY PRACTICE MINDFULNESS?
Over the years, many benefits of mindfulness have been scientifically proven.
For example, being mindful improves your mood and enhances your creativity and it also helps to reduce stress and anxiety.
It also makes you more focused as you train your brain to remove distractions and concentrate on one task.
But Mindfulness also helps you to slow down and stop rushing, to stop dwelling on the past but focusing on the present.
You’ll notice that you’re enjoying the little moments and appreciating life more, because you’re actively concentrating on being in the moment.
WHAT ARE MINDFULNESS TECHNIQUES?
Mindfulness isn’t always about meditation. It can be very easily incorporated with daily activities.
However, practicing Mindfulness Meditation can certainly help in bringing the focus back to the present moment. Thus, making mindfulness, a part of the lifestyle.
So, what are Mindfulness techniques?
Mindfulness techniques are any activity or practice that you perform in a mindful way.
Now, you can perform everything in a mindful way. But there are some activities that are easier to be mindful in than others.
And it’s these mindful activities that I am going to share in this post.
Now let’s jump into the details of the Mindfulness techniques that you can implement into your work life.
Practicing Mindfulness at Work – Ultimate Guide!
Practice conscious presence of mind
Be present and be aware of what you are doing at work. Getting side-tracked by unnecessary head clogging thoughts, especially at work, is easy to do.
Just focus on the work you’re doing and not on distracting aspects of life.
Getting side-tracked at work is very easy to do. We think about what we want to eat for lunch, what we have to do once the workday is completed, and even what the person to our right might be thinking about us.
Thoughts rage drastically in our heads when we should be focused on the task at hand.
Start to maintain a conscious presence of mind at work. You are at work to do a job and other thoughts at this current juncture are futile as you cannot change what may be going on in other areas of your life.
This may be easier to say than practising it, but actively practising the conscious presence of mind at work will help you to be mindful.
Humility is thought of as a weakness in the world we live in today. However, the root word, ‘humilis’ is the Latin term for ‘remaining grounded.’
We are taught, especially in certain work environments, that humility is to be avoided, but it is the humble person that’s often more quietly productive and rises through the ranks while remaining well respected by others.
A mindful nature is possible but will take great practice. It is the focus on the now rather than what is outside of that realm, so take the time to be mindful at work as well as in your personal life.
If you work in an environment where mindfulness is a myth, it may be time to re-evaluate your working environment.
Adopt an attitude of gratitude
Be thankful and appreciate every little thing that makes you feel loved, fulfilled and alive.
In your quiet moments, reminisce and be appreciative of all the great people and things around you. Also, remember to show appreciation to others for any help they render to you.
This will help you to be mindful. Practising gratitude has a positive impact on you, your wellness, creativity, work relationships, and the quality of work that you do.
Have you lost focus? Stop and write down your feelings
You receive an unpleasant call from one of your clients and feel shaken up. You still have a lot of work to do, but you’re finding it impossible to concentrate on your tasks.
Take a few minutes for yourself and write down how you feel at that very moment. No judgement. You can’t control these thoughts and fighting them is useless and takes a lot of energy.
Becoming more aware of your own emotions as they arise can help you be more flexible and resilient in the face of difficult situations.
Take a break
This is probably one of the easiest ways to practice mindfulness at work. Just walk away from your desk for a short while.
And consider inviting a colleague to go on a stroll with you. Avoid gossiping about the new receptionist or complaining about your boss though.
The idea is to clear your mind from those stressors and be present in a conversation with your colleague, so find something non-work-related to talk about.
If you can get outside the office for the walk, even better. The great outdoors has its own type of power.
One task at a time
In a culture that emphasises fast work, we tend to opt for multitasking as a quick fix when we’ve got a lot to get through.
However, in reality hovering between a number of tasks generates unnecessary stress as we struggle to direct attention – which certainly doesn’t make your workload any lighter.
In busy periods, committing to one thing at a time is the effective way to work. This more mindful approach means you’ll be entirely present in what you’re doing, clearing your head of stress and distractions.
Not only will you plough through it faster, but the end result will also be of higher quality.
Participate in active listening
If you’ve ever sat through an hour-long meeting only to discover that you haven’t retained any of it, you’re not alone.
In the workplace in particular, many of us are guilty of listening passively, rather than actively.
A little mindfulness in the way of active listening – for example: focusing on what the speaker is saying and giving them your full attention, taking notes, if need be, and repeating broader concepts while adding your own thoughts afterward.
This can go a long way when it comes to retaining information and making your colleagues feel heard.
Practice deep breathing
Want to enjoy greater focus, creativity, and clarity throughout the workday? The answer may be as simple as taking a few deep breaths.
In fact, research published in the Journal of Neurophysiology reveals that deep breathing can actually change the way your mind functions, actually allowing you to activate new parts of your brain.
Start with engaging in deep-breathing exercises for just two minutes every hour. (Or go to the bathroom, if you’re worried about distracting your colleagues.)
Sit upright, stare ahead, and take deep breaths in followed by slow exhales in which you imagine your tension leaving your body through your breath.
Create a distraction-free workspace
Distractions are everywhere in today’s world, but they are mutable if you set up an ideal working environment.
While working, switch off notifications on all your devices and implement designated slots to reply to emails and work-related messages.
Even a short message can quickly disrupt a sharp flow of focus.
Music is advisable for productive working – so long as it’s the right kind. Research from Cambridge Sound Management indicates that speech distracts 48% of office workers, meaning that lyric-less music is what will keep your focus tight.
Practice on your commute
Part of being set up for success is preparing for it, and another part is about reflecting on it.
Be mindful and present for the last 10 minutes of your commute into the office to prepare yourself to hit the ground running when you get in.
And try it again for the first 10 minutes of your commute on the way home. Turn off your phone, turn off the radio, notice how you feel in the driver’s seat and breathe deep (especially if you’re sitting in rush-hour traffic).
If you’re on a bus or train, focus on what’s outside, focus on the clouds, trees and noises.
You’ll immediately notice the effects of decompressing from the busy workday.
Try to avoid back-to-back meetings
There’s nothing worse than going from one meeting to the next. And if you’re doing it all day, without time in between to process what happened in the last meeting or prepare for the next, it can be draining.
While you kept busy all day, you may look back feeling like you accomplished nothing. It’s not a mindful way to schedule your day.
If you can, try to space out meetings, so you have adequate breathing room (no pun intended) in between.
Pay close attention to your body language
The way we use our body has a powerful effect on improving or diminishing our attention levels.
Sitting hunched at a desk can both physically and mentally reduce the scope of our peripheral vision.
Crossing arms across your body creates a barrier between you and those around you – such body language can make you look ‘closed off’ and people may be nervous about approaching you.
How we feel on the inside often translates on the outside so take pride in your appearance – sit and stand tall.
Practice mindful eating
Mindful eating consists of focused eating, paying attention to hunger and satiety cues, eating with awareness and eating without distraction.
Eating distractedly, rather than attentively, may increase food intake.
For example, research has shown that people who listened to a recorded detective story ate larger meals than people who listened to instructions to focus on the sensory characteristics of their food.
To help yourself eat mindfully and attentively, try to take a dedicated lunch break and get away from your workstation.
Recognise stress when it’s happening
Allow yourself to recognise when you feel stress. Name it, and identify what you are feeling and where.
For example: “I feel stressed; my neck is tightening up. I feel anxious; my stomach feels upset. I feel agitated; I’m tapping my feet a lot.”
Naming the emotion and observing where it is occurring physically is one way to use mindfulness to step into awareness and out of the intensity of the emotional state.
Give yourself reminders
It can be easy to get caught up in the day and forget to be mindful, so incorporating mindfulness reminders throughout your day can help you.
Many apps offer reminder features which can send you notifications when it’s time to pause for mindfulness.
Alternatively, one trick to build mindfulness into a habit is using something that occurs regularly in your day as a trigger for mindfulness, like hearing a phone ring or walking through a door.
Observe yourself without judgment
In recognising how you are feeling, take a moment to look at yourself as you would a dear friend.
Observe yourself with kindness and compassion, not judgment.
Ask your inner critic to take a back seat while you give yourself the caring you need to get through this moment.
Practicing Mindfulness at Work – Final thoughts
Mindfulness at work will not only help you stay sane and feel better; it’ll also boost your productivity and help you get better results. Do you have any tips or tricks for being more present at work?
I would love to hear your thoughts on what you are doing to change your life in the coming days and years!
If you have any questions please reach out to me via email@example.com. I would love to hear from you!
I really hope you found inspiration in this article.
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Hello! My name is Adam and welcome to my space on the internet. Here you can find me writing about subjects such as spiritual growth, mental health, self-care, self-development and all things wellness. Connect with me on my journey and join the community!