6 Mindfulness Exercises To Do at Work
“Live in the moment.” In these stressful times, this mindfulness adage has become a wellbeing axiom for many. It not only rolls off the tongue easily, it’s also something that comes naturally to us — you don’t need any tools or training to live in the moment. This, along with deep breathing, forms the core of mindfulness.
Simply put, mindfulness is a mental state achieved by being aware of the present moment, acknowledging and accepting one’s thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations, however positive or difficult. While the concept is easy to understand, it can take time to master the technique as it needs you to be still and totally present in the current moment — and we know how easily the human mind can be distracted. It has a short attention span and is restless like a child, getting distracted by a stray butterfly or a passing thought. But it’s not as difficult as you may think. Mindfulness can be practised just about anywhere, whether you’re sitting in an office chair or on your favorite sofa at home. But it will come to you only if you seek it, really seek it.
You can practice mindfulness throughout your workday. Here are a few quick steps you can start with:
When you feel overwhelmed at work and stress seems to creep up on you, a quick session of mindful breathing can help you ground yourself in the present. Five to seven minutes of mindful breathing every day can reduce the risk of burnout, depression, anxiety, and helps control stress and fatigue.
To find peace in the present moment, simply close your eyes and start breathing slowly. Inhale through you nose and exhale through your mouth, each breathing cycle lasting for six seconds. Focus on the rise and fall of your chest and let go of your thoughts. If, at any time, you feel distracted by stray thoughts, acknowledge them, and slowly push them away from your purview. This makes it easier to pursue mindfulness in the workplace.
How often do you reach out for a snack on a busy workday? Chances are you may not even realize if you are guided by hunger, thirst, or boredom. The next time you reach out for a snack, ask yourself: “Am I hungry? Or am I bored and crave distraction?” The answer to this will help you practice mindful eating. When you eat mindfully you engage all your senses — sight, smell, touch, taste, and sound and, through this, learn to enjoy your meal and be grateful for the mindful pause in your busy day.
Try this eating with awareness exercise and learn to pay attention to how you savor your food. Take time to look at the colors on your plate, notice the texture of the foods, take a mouthful and chew on it slowly, as you explore different flavors. You could begin a mindful eating practice with any one meal of the day; to begin with, try it only for a minute at the start of the meal.
How to practice mindfulness at work when you are surrounded by the chatter of colleagues, the clacking of keyboards, and office chat buzzing with notifications? A quick mindfulness exercise, for the duration of a song, can go a long way in calming your senses. Mindful listening is the key to this.
Our opinion of a song is formed by how it made us feel or how much we like an artist. We also associate a few songs with certain life phases or memories. Pick a song you have never heard before and put on your headphones. Close your eyes and listen to the song without any judgement. Connect with your breath and listen carefully to each instrument. Feel the music rise to a crescendo and fall back. Concentrate on how a tune or word affects you. Once the song ends, think about how you feel — happy, emotional, or energized?
One can’t deny the importance of good posture while working. However, it’s important to switch things up by taking a break, stretching, and walking around. It’s important to reduce the impact of screen fatigue and stay active throughout the day. Some of the best mindfulness exercises for groups can be around mindful stretching.
Take deep breaths to compensate for the shallow breathing mode we slip into while working and loosen the tension that has built up in your shoulders. Inhale while you raise your left arm slowly. Exhale and bend towards your right until you feel the tension. Focus on the stretched muscle. Inhale and come back to the straight position again. Exhale as you drop your arm slowly, back into a neutral position. Notice how light your left arm feels compared to the right one. Repeat with your right arm. These mindfulness activities for stretching can be done while sitting on your chair, the floor, or while standing.
We tend to take a lot of things for granted — our health, friends, and family. Therefore, while practising mindfulness in the workplace, it’s good to take out some time to be grateful. This emotion works as a mood booster.
Note down five to 10 things you’re grateful for each day. It could be as simple as having a beautiful sunny day or the support of your partner on a project. Appreciate their existence and think about how life would have been without them. You can also include this in mindfulness activities for virtual meetings.
How to practice mindfulness throughout your workday when you have a never-ending checklist? The answer lies in mindful immersion. One of the core principles of mindfulness is living in the present moment. It is all about attention and there are different ways to pay attention to the present. Practising attention activism can help you enter a state of flow and immerse yourself in the task you’re doing instead of rushing towards the next one without much thought.
Pick an activity that you do every day. It could be something as simple as making tea. Instead of rushing through the task and moving on to the next one, notice it in a new light. Focus on the sound of firing up the stove, pouring water into the vessel, and opening a jar of tea leaves. Feel the heat emanating from the stove, smell the tea leaves, and watch how the color of tea changes over time. Compare the cold surface of the spoon used for mixing with the heat of the vessel. Notice how it makes your skin feel. This exercise helps you create new experiences with a familiar task.
Which one of these mindfulness activities will you start with?