WORKPLACE / AUG. 15, 2014
version 3, draft 3

How to Incorporate Mindfulness Into Your Work Day

Many careers create high levels of stress. These stress levels can have a negative effect on one’s health, mood, and productivity. To combat these stressful events, many careers are focusing on mindfulness. Mindfulness is being incorporated into offices, allowing employees to deal with difficult situations as they arise.

Although mindfulness stems from Buddhist practices, Google, the NHS, and many other offices are beginning to practice mindfulness. It has deeps roots in psychology and medicine, now making its way into the workplace. If you begin to incorporate mindfulness into your work day, you may find that you are able to handle stressful situations more easily.

You will also be more aware of the moments that seem to pass us by.

What Is Mindfulness?

Basically, mindfulness is being aware of your present surroundings. When you are more mindful, you’re able to focus on your current emotions, feelings, and sensations without judgment. Many companies are beginning to recognize its value, as mindfulness helps reduce stress, anxiety and conflict. When conflict and stress are reduced, emotional intelligence and communication are improved within the workplace.

Think about your past work week, have you zoned out regularly? Think about conversations you had with others, do you have trouble remembering what was said? Did you eat your lunch, but you were too distracted to actually taste your food? Did you find yourself dwelling on past moments or worrying about the future? If so, you will benefit from a more mindful approach.

How You Can Be More Mindful At Work

During your work day, there are many elements that are out of your control. With that being said, you do have an incredible tool that allows you to have control over your own thoughts, feelings, and experiences. There is no doubt that you will need to put fourth effort, but for those of you that feel stressed at work, you will highly benefit.

  1.      Make the Commitment: You need to make yourself more aware of not only your surroundings, but yourself. You need to put forth the required effort, making appropriate changes. Training yourself to be more aware of your feelings, thoughts, and behaviors takes time and conscious effort.
  2.      One Step At A Time: If you try to make too many changes at once, you may become overwhelmed. Start with being more aware of a singular event or idea, placing your attention on that. For example, ’today I am going to be more aware of my commute.’ If you drive to work, focus on the wind coming through your window. How do you feel? Truly enjoy the sips of your morning coffee.
  3.      Start Your Day With Conscious Awareness: Instead of waking up and racing out of bed, set your alarm for five or ten minutes earlier. Use that time to take a few deep breathes and consciously think about your day ahead. If you’re one to rush around, slow down your pace. Many of us have a lot of things to accomplish in a short period, but you do not need to become so overwhelmed. That ’to-do’ list in your mind does not need to be obsessed over. Slow down your thoughts, allowing yourself to accomplish one thing at a time. If you slow down, you’ll be able to better regulate your energy levels.
  4.      Start to Listen: While at work, really connect with people. Practice listening. If you think about it, most conversations do not have your full attention. Someone may be discussing details to you at work, but you’re in your own head thinking about what you’re making for dinner. Start shifting your attention to others when they speak to you.
  5.      Practice Acceptance: Think about when you’re stressed out, how do you react? Instead of trying to simply calm yourself down, you need to reflect on the way you currently feel. Once you accept how things are within that moment in time, you’re better able to make improvements. You may not like a current situation, but when you accept the way you feel, you can then find a more beneficial solution.
  6.      Take Breaks: There is evidence showing that taking regular breaks improves levels of productivity and creativity. When you have your lunch break, move away from your computer or desk. It’s important to separate yourself, allowing your mind and body to have a true break. Your mind needs time to digest information. Take your lunch outside; actually enjoying what it is you’re eating.
  7.      Focus on the Journey: We are goal-driven, always wanting to have a sense of fulfillment. Although having goals is great, it’s not just the end result that you should focus on. The journey towards your goal is where you learn, grow, and develop. When you are more mindful, you focus on the present, letting the future work itself out. If you’re too focused on one ending goal, you’ll miss out on the journey along the way.
  8.      Take a Walk: Mediating isn’t all about yoga and Buddhism. When you walk through a green space for instance, your brain enters a meditative state. Think about the last time you had a long walk within a beautiful, outdoor landscape. Did you self-reflect? Did you feel calm, gaining perspective? Incorporate more walks into your day. If you can, take a walk on your lunch break. If not, take a nice stroll after work. Instead of thinking about the assignments you need to do tomorrow, focus on the present.
  9.      Stay Focused on One Task: It can be challenging not to multitask. When there are multiple tasks to be completed, your natural reaction is to bounce from one task to the next. Studies have found that multitasking actually takes individuals 50% longer to accomplish a task. When you’re more mindful, you’re able to focus on one task. If you need to, take a break before moving onto your next task. Focus on the assignment that needs to be completed first. Stay focused on that one assignment until you either take a break or complete it. 
  10.   Don’t Be Attached to Your Phone: Think about your work week, do you truly connect with people? Many of us are glued to our mobile devices. We would rather send a message than speak to someone face-to-face. If you separate yourself from your mobile phone, you will find that you can build and maintain stronger, real-life relationships and connections.

Mindfulness is thousands of years old, so it is nothing new. When you begin incorporating mindfulness into your workday, you allow yourself to live in the moment. Being more aware of yourself and your environment can decrease stress levels, improving one’s productivity levels and experiences. Mindfulness has helped many and is something you should try. So, slow down, be more aware, listen, and fully connect with the tasks and people around you.

 

Photo credit: RelaxingMusic

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