How to Practice Mindfulness at Work (Tips & Benefits)

Your guide to living (and working) in the moment.

Reviewed by Chris Leitch

How to practice mindfulness at work: A hand watering a brain

Mindfulness: the act of being more focused and aware, and a term that you’ve probably heard 1,000 times over the past year, as more and more people are adopting new strategies to control their thoughts and emotions.

If you need to take a timeout at work to refocus and take yourself to that calm and tranquil place of yours, learning how to practice mindfulness can have life-changing effects and make you more productive in the long run.

In this article, we’ll learn about mindfulness at work — including what it is, the benefits and strategies.

What does mindfulness at work entail?

For many workers, a day at the office is often filled with distractions, tight deadlines, meetings and a mountain of pending tasks. This can have a significant impact on a person’s mental health and wellbeing, leading to heightened work-related stress.

Therefore, the main purpose of practicing mindfulness in the workplace is to achieve a state of calmness and focus. From breathing exercises to meditation and affirmations, there are numerous techniques and practices that can help you stay grounded amid a chaotic workday, helping you preserve your focus and productivity, especially during a long day.

Through mindfulness, then, you can develop your self-awareness and shift your mindset to cope with any work-related stressors.

The benefits of mindfulness in the workplace

Being more mindful at work comes with a slew of benefits that can enhance your work performance but also, more importantly, positively impact your health. Some of the advantages of practicing mindfulness at work include:

  • Increased productivity
  • Decreased stress and anxiety levels
  • Higher job satisfaction
  • Improved mood and emotional regulation
  • Enhanced attention span and focus
  • Better interpersonal relationships

Cultivating a state of presence and awareness at work will not only have a transformative effect on your professional life; mindfulness can also avert stressful aspects of your job from seeping into your personal life. That is a long-winded way of saying that mindfulness could prevent you from taking your work home with you.

15 ways to be mindful at work

Here are 15 mindfulness techniques to follow on a daily basis.

1. Be mentally present

The key to mindfulness is being alert and aware in the present moment, instead of drifting off into autopilot mode. If you’ve gone home at the end of the day and can’t actually pinpoint what you worked on, you definitely drifted off into an unconscious state of mind.

If you notice that your mind wanders to your pile of ironing at home or what you should buy for dinner, you are not practicing mindfulness at work at all.

Instead, focus on the tasks in hand, whether it’s writing a report or filing.

2. Add mindful exercises into your routine

We all make excuses for not meditating, exercising or eating healthy — usually because we don’t have time, which makes it hard for us to adopt new routines. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

Adding five minutes of mindfulness into your routine at work doesn’t need to be stressful. For example, you can practice breathing techniques while you’re taking a toilet break or making a cup of tea.

All you need to do is take a deep breath through your nose for six seconds and then breathe out from your mouth for another six seconds, ensuring that you’re not thinking about anything other than your breathing.

3. Take one task at a time

Multitasking used to be a skill that was adored by hiring managers, but in recent years, it just doesn’t seem to be that important. You’re probably wondering why: isn’t completing two tasks at the same time more efficient than handling them one by one?

Well, the answer is “no”. When you’re jumping from one job to another, some information will get lost or forgotten in the process, meaning that you’ll spend the same amount of time identifying and correcting the problem that arose from your multitasking!

Although you may feel productive at the time, it’s much better for your health if you take one task at a time.

4. Drink lots of water

You’re probably wondering what water has to do with mindfulness. Well, it has everything to do with it, especially when our bodies are made up of 60% water.

When your body is dehydrated, your judgement is altered, your thoughts become cloudy, and your mind will be longing for some nourishment.

To make sure you’re at the top of your game, be sure to drink enough water throughout the day. The suggested daily amount is two liters a day.

So, get a good water bottle, and make sure it’s in arm’s length throughout the day!

5. Be grateful

When you think of your workday, do you tend to dwell on the negative or the positive that happened? Your answer will most likely be the latter!

You were most likely annoyed at the printer that got jammed and made you late for your meeting, which then resulted in an earful from the boss.

Instead, you should start thinking of the good aspects of your day. Be grateful for the work that you’re doing (and enjoy) and be thankful for having awesome colleagues, an understanding boss and working in a company with a great culture.

Additionally, start making a list of everything that you’re grateful for within the workplace to increase your wellness and make your overall thought process a more positive one.

6. Meditate

Many forms of meditation fall under the bracket of mindfulness, including breathing, observation, awareness, listening, emersion and appreciation, and there are tons of exercises that you can do to meditate.

What’s important is finding the right one that you can feel comfortable with doing at work.

You could choose to meditate on your lunch break when you have no distractions, once you sit at your desk in the morning or during your commute home. What’s important is that you develop a wellness routine that works for you.

7. Create a comfortable environment for yourself

When you’re comfortable in your surroundings, you’re going to naturally feel more relaxed and at ease, which in turn will make you more mindful. And if you’re wondering how to make a comfortable environment, a simple tip is to personalize your workspace.

For example, buy some of your favorite plants, inject colors that you love, pin up pictures of your loved ones, or make a shrine of your furry friends.

By creating a natural environment, you’ll instantly feel calmer and a lot more grateful.

8. Take breaks

Powering through your day without getting away from your desk isn’t beneficial for anyone, especially you and your mental state! You’ll simply end up feeling exhausted and drained, which won’t be great for your work or your company.

Instead, you should take at least 15 minutes to find a quiet corner and recharge your batteries. During this time, it’s important to clear your thoughts, improve your concentration and rid any judgement, helping you overcome the afternoon slump.

9. Write down your thoughts

Writing down your thoughts is a great exercise to practice mindfulness. It helps to get rid of any distractions, and it also aids in identifying thought processes and patterns.

If you’re obsessing over picking up your dry cleaning or getting to the supermarket before it closes, create a to-do list and move on to the task at hand. By repeating this process, you’ll train your brain to focus on the task that you’re supposed to be working on, without letting any other thoughts deter you.

10. Listen actively

Mindfulness is not just about breathing and thinking; it’s also about listening and observing, too. Have you ever noticed yourself drift off when someone is talking to you, only realizing when they’ve finished, and you don’t have the tiniest clue of what they said?

If so, it’s time to actively listen to what people are saying.

Stop yourself from drifting off and listen clearly! This will make all sides of the conversation better, and it will form a stronger bond between you both.

11. Use reminders

Being mindful is easier said than done, which is why you might need a little reminder every day to keep you on the right path.

For example, you could set an alarm on your phone reminding you to meditate, a post-it note on your computer screen urging you to breathe deeply when things get overwhelming, or even a mindfulness app with prompts for guided practices and tips.

With time, some of these mindfulness techniques could become second nature to you, but until then, utilize these reminders to ensure you’re consistent with your practice.

12. Take time

During the hustle and bustle of any workday, it can be easy to enter a rushed and panicky state as you attempt to juggle all your tasks, projects, meetings, and so on.

By us suggesting you take your time, we don’t mean not seeing your deadlines through or taking an extra-long lunch break. Rather, it’s about slowing down and switching your stress-led responses with a calmer and more present attitude.

13. Check in with yourself

Be it in the middle of the day or during your commute home, it’s vital to conduct a debrief session with yourself.

Start by identifying how you are feeling in the moment, the highs and lows of the day, and things you would like to improve on moving forward. This is a great way to resolve any difficult feelings you might be harboring and become more self-aware about your state of mind.

14. Focus on what you can control

An important aspect of mindfulness is accepting the things that are out of your control.

We often find ourselves hyper-focusing on events, circumstances and occurrences that we cannot change. However, part of becoming more mindful is shifting our focus on the things that we can control and letting go of those that we cannot.

Ask yourself the question “Is this something I can control?” whenever you’re faced with a predicament. If the answer is “no”, then you must accept it and move past it.

15. Develop your mindset

Your mindset can be the key to becoming a truly mindful person, as it informs your feelings, attitudes and beliefs.

While a scarcity mindset can cause you to focus on what you lack and on the negative aspects around you, a growth mindset can lead to personal development, determination and inner growth. A good way to reform your mindset is to take inventory of your thoughts and consider how you might change your approach to open yourself up.

Final thoughts

Being more mindful at work can be a real game changer. Through it, you will find yourself feeling more grounded, present and focused in the moment. What is more, it can help you relieve stress and develop your approach to your work for the better

While this might take some time, it is a long-term investment in your wellbeing that you will certainly not regret. All there is left to do now is put the above techniques to work and get started on your mindfulness journey!

How do you practice mindfulness in the workplace? Let us know in the comments section below!

Originally published on November 27, 2018. Updated by Melina Theodorou.