How to be more mindful at work
Posted on November 08 2019
Whatever you need to get done today, you need to show up mentally, not just physically. This is often made tricky if you’re not fully rested. In work, it can be even more difficult, particularly if you have a busy schedule. How are you meant to make time for mindfulness when you have non-stop emails to answer and a schedule full of deadlines? Well, fortunately, there are some solutions. While you might not be able to take an hour-long walk to chill out and find your focus, there are some ways to work mindfulness into your work day without compromising your to-do list. Here are some simple tips to get you started.
Thinking about your posture and how you’re sitting at your desk is an easy way to be mindful for a few minutes. It’s not just about changing how you hold yourself, though. Just by thinking about straightening up or relaxing your neck, you become more aware of your body and your surroundings. Learning and thinking about why you might be tense or hunched up can do your mind some good, a bit like untangling anything that might be worrying you.
As well as considering whether your shoulders are caving in, or you’re craning too close to your computer screen, you should think about your breathing. If you’re stressed out, you might not even realise it, but your breaths become quicker and shallower. Most of us take shallow breaths far more frequently than we should. This type of breathing doesn’t just make stress a response, it also makes stress a habit for your body and your mind. On the other hand, longer deeper breaths help you become concentrated and aware of yourself and your surroundings. For a mindful minute or two, focus on taking long, deep breaths, rather than whatever work might be getting to you.
Make the most of your lunch
The ideal lunch break would be getting away from your desk and getting outside. Leaving technology in the office to get some fresh air and greenery can do wonders for resting your mind and taking a break from sitting at a desk. If you feel like you’re falling asleep at your desk this is definitely a good idea, too. When you’re tired out it can be even more difficult to sit looking at a screen for long periods of time. Getting out and about is a great way to get the blood pumping and can even help with your creativity.
However, it’s inevitable that sometimes there’s just no time for that, no matter how hard you try to squeeze a break into your day. Even if you have to nibble on your lunch at your desk, there’s still ways to make it mindful. A few ways to do this are:
- Try concentrating on and savouring your bites.
- Think about the texture, or the crunching sound if you’re chomping down on a fresh salad.
- Think about where your food has come from, and who might have helped it get to you.
Eating is actually a pretty good mindful exercise, bringing your mind to the physical senses and appreciating the process. So, even if you don’t have time for a picnic in the park, you can still make the most of what lunch break you’ve got.
Focus on purpose
Working for a particular purpose is a big motivator. You can find purpose in whatever kind of work you do, even if it does seem elusive at times. The key lies in your willingness to find it! Taking a few minutes to think about this, whether you write it down or say it out loud, can be immensely helpful. You can also take time to focus on actively looking for things that have gone well in your work day. If you’re a bit of a perfectionist, focusing on this can help reframe a negative narrative in your head when something doesn’t go quite as planned. Congratulate yourself on what goes well, and remind yourself what you’ve achieved.
What to remember
It can seem difficult to take time out for any kind of mindfulness, especially if you work in a fast-paced environment, but that’s when it becomes most important of all. Taking those few minutes out can bring you back into the present moment and help you focus. Whether it’s food or fresh air, these mindful moments can be the difference between a bad day at work and a good one. This is particularly if you’re having trouble concentrating or are feeling worn out. Use time out as a tool to help you enjoy what you’re doing, and do it better.