5 Ways to Practice Mindfulness at Work

In 1979, Jon Kabat-Zinn defined mindfulness as “awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally”. Essentially, it’s about understanding what’s going on in your mind.

The concept of mindfulness certainly holds appeal. After all, its theorised benefits include better self-control, greater concentration levels and an improved ability to relate to others. It all sounds fantastic but the uninitiated may wonder how they can achieve that moment of zen in the middle of a busy working day. It’s easier than it sounds and, perhaps contrary to popular belief, does not require that you take time away from the office to sit in a field with your legs crossed. Here are a few things you can try...

Be Present
Primarily, mindfulness is about acting consciously and not operating on autopilot. To be mindful at work, therefore, essentially means that you focus on the job at hand. If you’re writing a report for your boss, for example, you should give that task your full attention. Sure, your mind will wander to other things. That’s natural. It’s how you deal with it that counts. The approach you should take is to acknowledge the intruding thoughts and let them pass on by. If you really struggle with this, you can try making a quick note in your planner to come back to something later before returning your attention to the task at hand.

Avoid Multitasking
Multi-tasking is about as far away from being mindful as you can get and not that great for your mental health or productivity levels, either. You may feel that multitasking helps you get more things done but if you stopped and worked it out, you would likely find that the opposite is true. If you’re guilty of trying to spin more than one plate at work, try to do things differently from now on. There are several ways you can achieve the move to single tasking, all of which are pretty simple. You could first try grouping tasks of a similar nature together and switching off distractions such as smartphone notifications.

Set Aside a Minute
While the idea of taking a leisurely mindful walk in the middle of a busy day may sound like bliss, it’s usually impractical. That doesn’t mean you can’t reap the benefits of mindfulness at work. Instead of taking an hour out to meditate, though, start with just one minute. Stop what you are doing (at the end of a task is best) and consciously connect with one of your five senses. You don’t need to be lying down. You don’t even have to close your eyes. All you need is that minute to yourself. Try these simple exercises and you will soon find that your mind is rebalanced and you are perfectly equipped to deal with the next task on your to-do list.

Be Grateful
It’s an unfortunate part of the human condition that we find it all too easy to dwell on the negative. By focusing on what has gone wrong rather on things that are going well, we cultivate a mindset that is unbalanced and unhealthy. If you instead try to think more positively by taking a moment to think about all that is going as planned, you will start to feel more grateful as a result. In turn, these feelings of gratitude can make you feel happier, boost your quality of work, and build up your resilience against disappointments or frustrations in the office.

Strive for Growth
Far too many people believe that their intelligence and specific talents are fixed. As a result, they don’t seek to develop those talents or to become more intelligent and, instead, pin their hopes on their current qualities being enough for them to succeed. On the flip side, there are people who have a growth mindset. These people firmly believe that effort on their part can lead to significant improvements in their intelligence and talents. This mindset of growth is one of the core attributes of mindfulness. Adopting it for yourself will allow you to move toward new challenges with purpose and achieve more in the process.

Decide at the start of each working day to be more mindful. Be present and work more consciously, giving your full attention to every task, no matter how mundane it may be. These calming moments have a cumulative effect and, before long, you should find that you benefit from reduced stress and greater awareness.

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