We all have hard days at work, where we struggle to stay focused, in tune with ourselves, and productive. It may seem like these days are just a lost cause, but there are ways to combat the fog and get back on the right track… by practicing mindfulness exercises.
Mindfulness is all about zeroing in on the moment, taking a moment to breathe and feel without judgment. And it’s really, really good for you! Workplace stress is a real problem in our world. It can cause health issues, from depression and anxiety to increased risk of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and heart attacks. But mindfulness tackles many of these issues. Practicing mindfulness can reduce stress, keeping those workplace stress side effects at bay. It also increases productivity, making your work day flow easier and keeping your mind clear to focus on yourself once the day is over, rather than what you still need to get done. And especially during COVID-19, with us all in lockdown and struggling to stay sane while adjusting to working from home, we could all use an extra moment or two in our day to practice mindfulness.
Here are the four best mindfulness exercises you can do at work to improve your well-being and keep yourself stress-free and happy.
One of the best ways to jump into mindfulness is to do some breathing exercises. Focusing on your breathing helps center your consciousness so you can focus only on the moment and your breath, and nothing else. You can do self-guided exercises, or use a recording from an app like Calm or Headspace. Not only will you find your stress melt away, but mindful breathing can also reduce anxiety, burnout, and even physical pain.
Any form of exercise has been shown to be a great stress reliever, but we’re trying to find ways to practice mindfulness at work, so let’s talk about walking. It may seem like a little thing, but taking a break for just a small 10-15 minute stroll during your work day can immensely help reduce stress by releasing mood-boosting endorphins in your body. It can also increase your energy and help with memory, which we all could use in the middle of a work day.
There are many different ways to meditate, for many different reasons. But when practicing mindfulness, the main objective is to be in the moment, and meditation is a great way to help quiet your brain so you can do just that. You’re not trying to empty your brain; rather, you’re trying to hone in on the present moment and be as aware of yourself and your surroundings as possible.
It doesn’t have to be extensive; all you need is a comfortable, quiet space to sit, and a few minutes to spare. You can spend this time focusing on breathing, or you can follow a meditation guide.
We think we’re good at multitasking, but we’re not. We can get sucked in to doing so many things at once that we don’t even realize we’re juggling all these emails, phone calls, projects, etc. at once. And you’re not actually getting more done. Some research shows that multitasking can decrease productivity by up to 40%.
Taking the time to slow down and do one task at a time will calm your nerves, clear your mind, and help you be more mindful about the work that you’re doing. A great way to do this is to allot a specific time (say, 30 minutes) to each task, and move on once the time is up — you can always come back later if you don’t finish the task. You’ll see an increase in productivity and almost certainly an improved outcome in your work.
When work gets overwhelming and we start feeling burned out, taking time out of the day to walk, breathe, or even slow down our tasks can seem like a burden rather than a blessing. But the benefits are so worth the extra time spent.
So next time you’re feeling unproductive, unfocused, or just plain tired, take a moment. Breathe. Take stock of where you are. And remember — you got this.