You enter the workplace, ready to start the day with a clear plan in mind. But, in no time, you find yourself thinking about the weekend trip that’s planned with friends. Or, you may realize that your mind often wanders off to different thoughts, like planning your evening at home, when you are actually in a meeting discussing the quarterly plan.
Experiencing such situations frequently may hamper your productivity at work and lead to stress. You need not get worked up about this, because you can curb this problem from growing by incorporating mindfulness exercises throughout your day.
Master Mindfulness at Work
Here are a few actionable ways that you can practice to be mindful at work:
1. Commence Your Day Right
According to Psychology Today, “Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them as good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience.”
When you reach your office, take 10 minutes at your desk or in your car to boost your brain with a short mindfulness practice before you start working on the day’s to-do-list.
Maintaining the right posture is essential when performing mindfulness exercises. Close your eyes, sit upright, and relax. Consciously focus on your breath, and maintain continuous attention on breathing as a process.
Observe the air movement along your windpipe, when you inhale and exhale. This will help you steer clear of distracting thoughts and emotions. You can count numbers silently when you exhale, as this may help continue focusing on your breathing.
It is quite possible to find yourself occupied with other thoughts when you are doing this exercise. In that case, simply release the distraction when you exhale, and return your focus to the next breath. The key is to let yourself enjoy simple activities like breathing.
2. Practice Short Mindfulness Exercises
Mindfulness exercises help you train your brain to retain concentration for a longer period. So, the more you practice these exercises, the longer you can enjoy the mindful state. You need not take long breaks from work to perform them. Consciously connecting with one of your senses even for a minute can be an effective way to focus on the present. Here are two short mindfulness exercises that can be easily performed at your workplace:
- Yawn and Stretch: Once in every hour, try to fake yawn and follow it with stretching your muscles for approximately ten seconds. Yawning helps break the flow of thoughts and emotions that are running in your mind, allowing you to focus on your breath. Sitting in the same position for a long time can tense the muscles near your neck and back region. Stretching can help circulate blood in those muscle groups. Take another 20 seconds to notice your environment and resume work.
- Follow The STOP Exercise: When moving from one task to another, take some time to do the STOP exercise.
i. Stop what you are doing, stand up and breathe, mindfully observe the contact between your feet and the ground.
ii. Tune into your body, lower your gaze, and notice your physique, sensations, and emotions. Eliminate any unpleasant sentiments with every exhalation.
iii. Observe: Take in the surroundings with your eyes. Appreciate the beauty of an object/person/situation in your environment and be grateful for it.
iv. Possibility: Focus on finding better ways to fulfill the next task that you will work on. This will help you gather your energies and focus on completing your work efficiently.
3. Decide on an Aspiration
When your mind is distracted and you cannot concentrate on your work for long, take a break. Let the thoughts flow. Use this time to think about an aspiration. Ask yourself, what is it that you wish to achieve. It may seem unreasonable at that moment, but don’t get caught up in the practicality of fulfilling the aspiration. Pause for about half a minute. Focus on your breathing, and get back to work.
This exercise helps you focus on positive thoughts and revive your mind’s attentiveness. Repeat this exercise twice or three times in a day. You can also make a list of your aspirations and gradually start working on achieving them.
The regular practice of mindfulness exercises can help you appreciate the importance of acceptance. This is an extremely crucial trait that can make you a great team player and a venerated business leader.
4. Opt for a Musical Stimulus
Music evokes feeling and helps relieve stress. It helps you acknowledge emotions that you like to experience, those you don’t like, and even those you aren’t aware of. So, when you find yourself facing a dull moment at work, invest some time in listening to music tracks.
Listen to your favorite song and pay attention to how it makes you feel. Clear your schedule for the length of the time it takes to listen to the piece of music. Find a comfortable place (it can be your work desk) where you can pay uninterrupted attention to the track. Take a moment to appreciate the work of art and try to deconstruct the elements that went into the making of the musical piece.
Follow this exercise by taking in a few deep breaths and be sensitized by the movement of your body when breathing. If while listening to the music track, your mind gets carried away with thoughts and emotions, remind yourself to return to the sounds and sensations of the musical piece.
If listening to the music stirs your emotions and unwanted thoughts spring up, you can include those thoughts as an extension of the music and acknowledge them. Be mindful of these emotions and let them pass without retaliating. Take a few minutes to absorb the entire experience. You can conclude this exercise by doing mindful breathing or just relaxing.
In this busy world, the mind is constantly at work. It fluctuates between thoughts and emotions that leave us feeling stressed and distracted at work. An overworked mind will find it difficult to contribute to the task at hand, and subsequently, fail to produce extraordinary results.
With mindfulness, you will be able to pay attention to these thoughts without being critical of them. Dedicating a few minutes each day to create mental spaciousness can help achieve a positive mind-body balance.