Colleagues practicing meditation as part of their mindfulness exercises at work
Colleagues practicing meditation as part of their mindfulness exercises at work

Image courtesy: Pexels

Mindfulness is the basic ability of humans to be present fully. When you live in the moment, are conscious of where you are and what you are doing, and are not excessively reactive to what’s going on around you, you are practicing mindfulness. Mindfulness also covers the state of giving attention to your thoughts and feelings without judging them as good or bad.

The objective of mindfulness is to wake up to the inner workings of your emotional, mental, and physical processes.

How to Practice Mindfulness at Work

Instead of worrying about the past or ruminating about the future, you just need to be in the present. Thus, mindfulness can be called a ‘present-focused consciousness’ where you are in the present, pay close attention to both external and internal stimuli, and do these with an open and accepting approach.

Here are some effective mindfulness practices at work that can help you boost your productivity while feeling more alive and present.

1.      Pay Attention

When you are at work, the fast-paced setting may make it difficult to slow down and notice things. Yet, try to carve out a small window from time to time to experience your environment with all your five senses, namely sound, touch, smell, taste, and sight.

For example, when you take a sip of coffee at your work desk or eat a favourite food during your lunch break, take the time to smell, taste, and truly enjoy it.

2.      Focus on Your Breath

Had a showdown with your boss? Or a heated argument with a colleague? If you are feeling stressed or have negative thoughts, sit down.

Next, close your eyes and inhale and exhale slowly while keeping the focus on your breathing. Notice how the air moves in and out of your body as you breathe. Such relaxed breathing even for a minute or two can help you to calm down.

3.      Live in the Moment

The goal of mindfulness is neither quieting the mind nor trying to attain a state of eternal calm. The goal is just to pay attention to the present moment in a non-judgmental manner.

When observing the present moment, if judgements arise in your mind, you just need to make a mental note of them, let them pass, and then return to the present again. The key is to attempt to bring discerning, accepting, and open attention to everything you do.

4.      Focus on One Task at a Time

When practicing mindfulness, it pays to focus on a solitary task. Instead of trying to do three things at once, failing to do any of the tasks well, and feeling stressed and overwhelmed, it’s better to focus on one and do it well.

You can list tasks on your to-do list and go on to finish them based on their priority.

5.      Take Regular Breaks

Research has found that your mind works best for about an hour before it gets tired and switches to a low activity for a short duration. This short duration is the ideal time for you to take a mindful break.

You can set a timer on your phone so that it rings (or vibrates, thus not disturbing others working nearby) and lets you know it’s time for a short break. You could do a breathing exercise, quick meditation, or take a walk to rejuvenate your mind before getting to work. Such breaks are especially effective after lunch when your mind starts to tire.

6.      Accept Yourself

Among effective mindfulness exercises at work, accepting yourself is important. You need to treat yourself the way you would treat a good friend. By accepting yourself, you can reduce the time spent on energy-draining self-criticism. This makes you enjoy your successes much better and even smile at your shortcomings.

Accepting yourself means not judging yourself for the thoughts that crop up in your mind. Simply practice recognising when your mind has wandered off and bring it back to the present gently. Even when you make mistakes, you should learn from them and move on instead of being stuck there and blaming yourself incessantly.

7.      Practice Gratitude

Bad days at work will be inevitable. The next time you are feeling down at work, you can try writing in a gratitude journal about a thing or two that you like about your job.

This is an effective way of practicing mindfulness at work as it lets you notice what you are thankful for in your job even when the day isn’t going as you had intended it to.

Wrapping Up

Practicing mindfulness or doing mindfulness exercises at work isn’t an uphill task. It’s not about meditating for hours every day to experience the benefits. You just need to carve out small blocks of time in your daily routine where you can perform mindfulness exercises at work. This will help you to de-stress and perform your best.

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