10 Ways to Be Mindful at Work
Working in a demanding environment — either in person or virtually — surrounded by people who request things and give tight deadlines can quickly become overwhelming for anyone. It's no coincidence that work is the source of most people's stress and many daydream about vacations.
Luckily, there are tools to establish greater balance, grounding, and focus at work, in addition to fostering more joy and fulfillment. After all, you spend close to half of your life working so why not make the most of it and learn to keep a calm and peaceful attitude throughout each day?
The following mindfulness techniques may help you do just that when practiced regularly.
1. Set a daily intention
Every morning as soon as you open your eyes, make sure you set an intention for the day, such as remaining calm, watching your breath, or being patient. Try to keep reminding yourself of this intention whenever you can. You don't need to change the intention every morning; just work on the most important thing you want to change about yourself right now, and then move on to the next.
2. Regularly take breaks.
Take short breaks throughout the day — no more than three or four minutes are needed. Some examples include grabbing a glass of water, walking around the office, going outside for a moment, or engaging in mindful stretching. Each of these may provide an opportunity for you to feel refreshed before returning to work.
3. Check in with yourself.
Do a quick body scan by gently closing your eyes and noticing the sensations in your whole body, starting at the top of your head, working your way down to your toes. Only spend five seconds on each area. If you feel some tension, breathe it away as you exhale and relax.
Check in with bodily sensations as you practice: Are they pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral? Whatever the case, don't judge or try to change them; become aware and accept that you are feeling this way right now. Tell yourself it is OK to experience your feelings.
4. Take 3 calming breaths.
Close your eyes and take a slow, deep breath. Inhale through your nose, hold your breath for six seconds, and then slowly release the air out through your mouth. Do this three times and keep your focus on this process.
5. Wake up your senses.
Sit at your desk and lightly close your eyes. Listen to all the sounds in the office for 30 seconds. Try to smell as many different scents as you can. Then, open your eyes and look closely at a picture on the wall. All these practices may bring you back to the present moment allowing for greater focus. Don't judge or criticize what you see, hear, or smell — just accept it.
6. Release your stress.
Focus on what is creating stress in your body, then take a deep breath through your nose. As you breathe out through your mouth, imagine you are breathing the pressure away. When you breathe out, do it with an audible sigh. Repeat this exercise three or four times.
7. Be a single-tasker.
Humans are not built to multitask. You are putting your brain under strain by attempting to spread your attention. Perform one task at a time to optimize productivity, reduce stress, and induce greater satisfaction at work.
8. Take a gratitude break.
Take a few moments out of your workday to think about three things you are grateful for. Practicing gratitude may release dopamine into your brain, which is essential for the normal functioning of the central nervous system. It can help you feel relaxed, happy, and focused.
9. Use visualization.
If you feel stressed, gently close your eyes and visualize what it would feel like not to be stressed. You can do this when you experience anger, impatience, intolerance, sadness, or other destructive emotions.
10. Check in with yourself at the end of the day.
When you have turned off your computer and are ready to go home, take a moment to reflect on the day. Note the things that worked well for you and be grateful. Bear in mind those that didn't and encourage yourself to try something different, and before leaving your workspace, engage in some mindful stretching to better release tension.
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