How to Practice Mindfulness at the Office: Yes, It’s Doable!
Mindfulness is about staying aware of your mind and body and learning to feel a sense of acceptance for things the way that they are at this minute. Rather than stressing about the past or worrying about the future, it is about living in the moment and being in tune with what is happening around you right now.
What is Mindfulness and What Are Its Benefits?
We have mentioned the importance of taking care of yourself in our previous article on being a better business owner. Mindfulness is all about taking care of yourself to improve your mental health, physical health, and overall well-being. Many doctors and therapist recommend practicing mindfulness and meditation when they have patients suffering with depression, substance abuses, eating disorders, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorders. These two tactics combined can reduce stress and therefore decrease the chances of headaches, digestive issues, heart disease, and stroke. Mindfulness can also help people with losing weight, lowering their blood pressure, improving their memory and concentration skills, and may even make sleeping problems disappear. With both improved mental and physical health, many individuals may feel encouraged to take care of themselves further by socializing with more friends, working out, improved posture, and even eating better.
How to Practice Mindfulness?
Many people set aside time to meditate and silently focus on their breathing rhythm. During meditation and throughout the day, they try to pay more attention to the sensations, emotions, and urges that they feel, such as everything they feel physically from head to toe, what they see, which sounds they hear around them, how their environment smells, and even what flavors they taste when they eat. When they do feel emotions, they learn to accept the presence of these and let them come and go without judgement, and if they feel an urge surfacing (such as those coping with addiction) they focus on what their body and emotions feel when the craving enters, and allow the urge to pass. For more information on what Mindfulness is and how people practice it, Help Guide has a great article on the benefits of mindfulness.
How to Practice Mindfulness in the Office
It would be impossible to take full hours out of a busy day at work to sit and reflect on your emotions and senses, but the good news is that there are plenty of easy ways to weave mindfulness into your daily actions. Mindfulness is all about incorporating some of its aspects into your everyday life, rather than setting aside time to focus on them.
The goal for this first step is to determine how you will improve yourself today: write down your intention or goal for the day and place it somewhere you will see it, such as a sticky note on your computer monitor. Today’s goal might be to “look at every obstacle as a positive learning experience”, “reflect on what others are going through”, “allow myself grace”, “develop a new skill”, “to be selective with my time”, or even something else. Throughout the day, when you get frustrated while at work, remind yourself why your work is meaningful. Remember why you originally applied for the job, which moments during today have brought you joy, if you have been working on your personal goal from the start of the morning, and even which customers or coworkers around the office you have been able to help today. You may not be able to see it in this very moment, but if you look around and reflect, you will see why what you do is meaningful to you and others.
Sometimes you just need to focus on one task at a time, because when you are trying to work on multiple tasks simultaneously, it equates to the waste of valuable time by having to switch gears and refocus. We have hinted at this strategy with previous articles such as our one on time management, when we suggested setting an alarm and working on one project until the alarm sounds. Another goal is to be present in the moment. There are times that it is easy to just go through the motions of your work without actually thinking; so if you find that you mentally start to drift away from your work, or even your desk, take a break to check in with your surroundings. It only needs to be a few moments long, and all you have to do is pay attention to what is happening around you. Look at what your coworkers are working on, listen to the noises around the office, and reflect on what you have accomplished today. You might even consider writing out a list of your accomplishments or successes at the end of each day so you can see it listed out visually. You may feel pride in yourself and your work.
Many people grab food, and then quickly return to their desk to keep working, which never allows them a moment to relax and refocus their mind. As we have mentioned in our article on having a productive day, it is okay to take breaks, such as a lunch break. Consider going out to eat lunch or even just moving to another room in the office to eat in silence. Avoid going on your phone or even opening your emails, all you need to do in this moment is breathe, eat, focus on the flavor and scent of the food, and just relax. The rest of the team should be able to survive 30 minutes or even an hour without you. You could even think about walking around for a few minutes and stretching a little before returning to your desk since you have likely been sitting down at a computer all morning. Spending the whole break time to take a break is actually good in the long run because it will help improve your focus when you sit back down to work. Do not just take one lunch break, consider separating out the day with a meditation break or two. When you get stressed at worked sometimes you become so focused on the stressful situation or instance that it clouds your mind and is the only thing you can focus on. You could waste the entire afternoon producing work at half the efficiency you normally would, or you could take 10 minutes out of your day to sit outside and listen to a podcast or app that assists with meditation, then come back feeling refreshed.
Hopefully this article will help you to easily practice mindfulness while at the office. If you have experience with incorporating mindfulness in your day-to-day life, or if you have a recommendation on a meditation podcast or app, please comment below.