Did you know you can actually practice mindfulness while you work? No meditation needed, and a terrific way to relax, increase focus, and relieve stress while getting lots more done.
Have you ever had one of those days where you get to work, say hello to your workmates, grab a coffee, do a few tasks, and then the day is suddenly over? You really don’t know where the time went, and you didn’t get half the work done that you wanted to.
Or, you find yourself at your desk, mulling over things you should have done or said in a previous conversation or meeting?
You’re not the only one in this predicament, and you’d be surprised how many people operate in similar fluctuating modes of disarray; their focus non-existent, with stress relief not even on the ‘to do’ list.
The truth of it all is that you’ve probably lost touch with yourself, your surroundings, and those around you. You aren’t really enjoying what you do because you’ve fallen into an endless and non-rewarding routine where you are just aimlessly existing rather than learning, focusing, and thriving. You may not be in extreme turmoil or pain, but a monotonous routine without stimulation and focus, combined with unnecessary overthinking, substantially affects your productivity and self-worth.
There is a way out though, and that’s mindfulness. It’s a proven form of stress relief, and it greatly increases focus too – just for starters!
If you don’t know what mindfulness is, fear not. We are going to define it, and then show how you can apply it to your everyday routine, at work or otherwise.
What is Mindfulness?
The Oxford Mindfulness Center defines mindfulness as ‘moment-to-moment awareness of one’s experience, without judgment, and through its repeated use you can manage and prevent feelings of depression, stress, anxiety, or discontent. It enables anyone who practices it to live a more attentive, appreciative and vibrant life.’
Put simply, when you demonstrate mindfulness, you’re fully aware of your thinking, emotions, and actions, and, you can avoid getting negatively, and repeatedly, tied up in them.
It’s been proven to increase mental and physical health, and has been practised for thousands of years, in almost every established religion, and also amongst numerous scholarly societies that value peace and knowledge above all else. Most notably, Buddhist monks believe mindfulness through meditation is one of the paths to enlightenment.
Mindfulness is often termed interchangeably with ‘meditation’ because mindfulness meditation is one of the most popular ways to practice relaxing and getting in touch with yourself.
The difference being, you have to allocate time and a place to meditate every day, and if you are living a busy lifestyle, doing this undisturbed – or even at all – can almost be impossible.
(We do highly recommend somehow finding that time for dedicated mindfulness at work though, and we have an article HERE on that very subject, but again, we know it can be really hard fitting it into your routine).
The alternative is practising mindfulness while you work, without losing a second of time, and as promised, here’s how…
How to Practice Mindfulness at Work
Let’s be honest, if you start practising mindfulness at work, using techniques listed below, you aren’t just going to suddenly change in a day. It’ll take some time to truly feel the new calm in your life. You are making some big moves: changing your way of thinking, altering your focus completely, and slowing things down so as to make yourself a more efficient worker and decision-maker.
Like anything worthwhile, it’s going to be challenging. The best way through is to think of this as a long term strategy, where the stress relief and general health benefits far outweigh the time and effort it’ll take to get where you are going.
Stick with it, stay focused, try to remain grounded, and keep on track as best you can. You’ll fall off the wagon a few times undoubtedly, but if you keep at it, you can thank us when things start really going well for you.
Until then, we’ve broken it all down into five key areas to get your ‘mindfulness at work’ journey started…
- Repeatedly Connect with Yourself
The king of techniques for mindfulness at work is connecting with yourself by taking a moment to do a mental sweep of your body and mind. No need to meditate, over-focus, or close your eyes. Simply check-in with yourself, and take note of where you are tense, or why you are bothered. Then, try to counter the negative aspects by slowing yourself down, or breathing slowly and deeply to release tension (both at once is best), in turn tricking your system into a more relaxed state. You can do this from 30 seconds to 3 minutes at a time, multiple times a day, in any situation, and no one will even know. It’s not dedicated meditation, but it works, and sometimes you just have to make the most out of a limiting circumstance.
It’s simple, do one thing at a time, and do it really well. This is especially important when things get too much, way too complex, and you feel extremely flustered. Multi-tasking puts lots of tension in your day, and also decreases your productivity and quality of work. Break everything into parts and give yourself permission to focus on a single issue or task. When you are done with each task take some deep breaths (see step 1), reflect, give yourself a mental pat on the back, then move onto the next one. A good tip is to also write your tasks down on a tick-list at the start of the day, and tick them off as you go. This ‘mindfulness at work’ technique keeps you organised, and you also get a great sense of accomplishment on ticking that final box on a daily basis.
- Switch Things Off
Stay away from your phone and all social media during allocated work times, then really focus in on that single task at hand. Reducing these distractions and procrastinations allows you to focus at a higher level, and you can quickly attain a state of productivity that you may have forgotten, or maybe never experienced, due to the limitless digital distractions in our lives. For added stress relief, throw your phone in a drawer and lock it, or even go as far as to store it in another room, only checking it when you need to. There are also numerous free apps that can lock social media accounts down on your PC during work hours, so get a little tough on yourself, and do it now.
- Slow Things Down
This goes without saying, but it’s easier said than done. Being faster doesn’t always make things better, and when you find yourself moving through the day way too quickly at a detriment to your own wellbeing, and potentially denigrating the quality of your work, you need to bring it down a few notches, then practice step 1. Also, taking a tiny snippet of time (10 seconds or more) to reflect/focus on each action or task before you do it ensures a much better outcome. Try it and see.
- Be Humble and Grateful
Some seriously overlooked qualities/practices that can truly define, or redefine, you as a person, while bringing new levels of respect and friendship into your life. Be truly grateful for the good things in your life, and try to think positive thoughts about people and situations. Thank people genuinely, and often, and try to keep a welcoming demeanor. In regards to humbleness: deflate that ego a little, and help someone out every day that you previously, and wrongly, thought was ‘below’ you. Don’t talk badly about people out loud, and be honest with yourself, both internally and externally. Humility and self-honesty go together like peas and carrots. People take note of these qualities on both a conscious and subconscious level, so always remember that.
These 5 points really come down to gaining a new level of self-awareness, and as mentioned, it’s tough to get there. So only commit to one new thing every week, and try not to get stressed about not being mindful enough, as that defeats the purpose of these practices. You will get there eventually, and if you truly want effective stress relief and added focus in your day, then you’ll just have to be diligent.
Good luck on your journey, and let’s hope your new mindfulness at work routine brings some brilliant sparkle and pop back to your life!
Quick Question: Does Your Workplace Need Help with Stress Relief, Focus, and Productivity?
It’s all well and good to talk/read about mindfulness, but are really going to carry out these changes long-term? The truth is, probably not. You are so used to your current routine that change is really tough.
Realistically, you might need a helping hand, and a little bit of tough love to get your new stress-relieving habits going.
The easy way to do this is to implement a wellness program. It’ll completely change your workplace, and boost productivity levels through the roof.
The majority of noted global employers have wellness programs for their staff, and according to the New York Times, there can be up to a 28% reduction in stress levels, a 20% improvement in sleep quality, and a 19% reduction in pain as a result of teaching wellness in the workplace.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to hit the health books, then make lengthy speeches or strike yoga poses in front of all your colleagues/employees on a daily basis – not at all.
The good news is there are highly skilled people/groups that can do this for you, and they don’t just do meditation. Many also cover exercise, relaxation and yoga – or meld all these elements into regular programs aimed at vastly improving happiness, health, and productivity across the board.
It’s simple, just type in ‘workplace wellness’ into Google, and find the professional that’s right for you. You’ll want someone with lots of experience, and lots of real testimonials that will come directly to your workplace and deliver something special, and lasting, to your people.
If you live in Melbourne Australia, one of the most effective, practised, and friendly practitioners of workplace wellness is Irina Riquelme, the brains – and welcoming smile – behind Fit&Delcious.
Fit&Delicious come to your workplace, and they have every aspect of wellness covered. Their range of services is the most extensive in the country, and their track record and repeat clientele speak for themselves.