How to Practice Mindfulness at Work (Guide to Better Focus)
Practicing mindfulness at work is an important way to center yourself, achieve better focus, and bring more balance to your life. Here, we celebrate Mental Health Day by offering tips for mindfulness.
Mindfulness at work is a popular topic nowadays and there’s no shortage of resources that show you how to be mindful at work. In essence, mindfulness is the state of being aware of the moment and fully present in it.
When you take into consideration how interconnected the entire world is, the fast-paced nature of today’s environment, and the fact that we’re working longer hours which leads to more stress (according to Forbes), it’s no wonder that we’re looking for a way to bring balance back into our lives. In this article, you’ll learn how to practice mindfulness at work.
Celebrate Mental Health Day By Practicing Mindfulness
Mindful practice has been shown to have a positive impact on your mental and physical health. In honor of Mental Health Day on October 10 this year, we’ve rounded up our best tips and advice on how to start practicing mindfulness at work so you can enjoy the benefits it brings.
In this post, we’ll talk about the benefits of practicing mindfulness, share tips on how to practice mindfulness at work, and helpful resources that will help you be more mindful in your life.
Five Benefits of Practicing Mindfulness
As we’ve mentioned above, practicing mindfulness has several benefits for both physical and mental health. Even a few minutes a day can make a significant impact on your overall health and lead to lower stress and blood pressure as well as improve your focus and productivity.
1. Better Focus
Mindfulness can be defined as the state of being present in the moment which means you can focus completely on present actions, company, and events around you. The best part about practicing mindfulness regularly is that it helps you reduce distractions, which in turn means you will be able to get more done.
2. Better Mental and Physical Health
One study, described in The Telegraph, found that practicing mindfulness not only lowers the production of the cortisol hormone which is responsible for regulating stress levels. According to an article published in ScienceDirect, mindfulness also helps regulate your emotions.
This means that stress can’t wreak havoc on your physical health and lead to negative side-effects such as high blood pressure, higher chances of a heart attack, and other issues. It also means you’ve got lower chances of developing anxiety, engaging in negative self-talk, and developing depression.
3. Greater Resilience
Since mindfulness focuses on practicing being aware and present in the moment, it allows you to approach stressful situations more calmly and objectively. This means that when change would normally cause you to question everything you’re familiar with, you can adapt more quickly and be more resilient.
4. Improved Relationships at Work and at Home
A study from 2015 by John Darwin shows that mindful practice is linked to higher emotional intelligence which is no wonder considering mindfulness requires high self-awareness. A study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) has also shown that by learning how to be mindful, you develop a higher degree of empathy and altruism.
As such, you’re able to better understand the people around you, connect and relate to them, as well as respond better to their emotions. This naturally leads to better relationships both at work and at home.
5. Increased Creativity
Lastly, regular mindfulness exercises at work can lead to increased creativity according to an article from the Harvard Business Review, which means you can come up with more creative solutions to everyday problems. Creative problem solving is a long-term benefit that can influence your status at work, allowing you to get a promotion and be seen as a resourceful employee.
How to Practice Mindfulness At Work
When you think about mindful practice, the first thing that comes to mind is probably meditation. While meditation is one of the most common mindful practices, it’s not the only way to practice being aware of the moment. Below, you’ll find six different techniques that you can start incorporating into your workday, both before you arrive at your workplace and after you leave, as well as simpler exercises that can be done during work hours.
1. Body Scan
The first practice on the list is a meditation practice known as body scan. This practice can be done in the morning after waking up or at night before going to bed and it allows you to immediately become present and aware of your body and the moment you’re in. It’s also easy to start with as it doesn’t require any special tools or props.
A basic body scan looks like this:
You’ll begin by lying on your back with feet slightly apart and palms facing upward.
The body scan is usually done by a facilitator who guides you through the process. At this point, they’ll ask you to lie still and start by focusing on your breath, noticing the rhythm of your breathing and becoming aware of the breath going in and out of your body.
Then, the facilitator will direct your attention to your body and ask you to become aware of how your body feels, the feeling of the surface below you, and the temperature of the environment around you.
Next, you’ll direct your attention to how individual parts of your body feel, going from the top of your head to the very tips of your toes or vice versa. You’ll be guided to become aware of any sore or tingling parts of your body and make a note of parts of your body where you don’t feel any sensations at all.
Once you’ve scanned the entire body and became aware of it, the facilitator will gently guide you back to the present moment and instruct you to slowly open your eyes
2. Become a Single Tasker
Many of us are guilty of multitasking, not realizing that juggling multiple tasks at once can actually decrease your productivity. Instead of making the same mistake, start focusing on a single task at a time. You can use the Pomodoro technique to help you achieve this at first. While there are several apps out there that can help you, this practice can be done without them.
All you’ve got to do is set a timer for 25 minutes and focus on a single task. This counts as one pomodoro, after which you’re entitled to a five-minute break.
Once your break is up, start another pomodoro and focus on the same task as before (if you haven’t completed it) or start working on another task.
Once you’ve completed four pomodoros, you can take a longer break.
This technique also helps you estimate how long a particular activity takes as well as measure how effective you are in completing tasks.
3. Observe The Environment
The next practice is also known as a mindful observation. It requires dedicating your full attention to your surroundings. An easy way to start practicing this is to focus on one object for at least five minutes.
Find an object in your environment. This can be a pencil, a notebook, a leaf, a plant or any other object.
Set a timer for five minutes
Take the object and focus your attention on it. Notice how it feels in your hand, the color, the texture, the shape, and other properties.
This will allow you to focus on the present moment and align your thoughts with your experience.
4. Practice Gratitude
Another way to be more mindful is to practice daily gratitude. This involves writing down three things you’re grateful for each day. You can use a journal, a simple notebook, or an app like 5 Minute Journal. At first, you might find it difficult to write down three things without repeating yourself but try to keep an open mind and include little things like the breeze on your skin, the sun in the sky or the stranger who smiled at you in passing.
5. Five Senses Exercise
A quick way to bring yourself into the present moment and become aware of yourself and your surroundings is the Five Senses exercise. You can use this during your work hours as well as at any time of the day. All you need to do is notice something in your environment that engages all five of your senses.
Here are the recommended steps:
Look around you and notice five things you can see but make sure to choose something that you wouldn’t usually notice. This can include a light beam coming through the window, a crack in the floor, or shadows playing on the wall
Notice four things you can feel. Similar to the point above, focus on something you take for granted such as the feeling of your shirt against your skin, the keyboard under your fingers, or the sun on your face.
Next, pay attention to three things you can hear in the background. Do you notice any birds chirping outside your window? How about traffic on your street? Can you hear your AC humming?
Notice two things you can smell. Don’t be afraid to filter out unpleasant smells as they can make you more aware of things around you.
Lastly, focus on one thing you can taste right now. This can be a drink, a piece of gum or the current taste in your mouth.
6. Practice Mindful Eating
The last practice can be done at any time of the day as you’re enjoying a meal. Instead of rushing through without noticing the texture of the food and the harmony of the different tastes, slow down and focus your attention on the food in your mouth as well as your plate. Practice noticing the texture, the smell, the colors before you shift your focus onto the taste itself.
Mindful Practices At Work—Examples From Popular Companies
Mindfulness practice is slowly becoming a staple in everyday work culture. Companies like Apple, Google, and Nike are starting to see the benefits of mindful meditation and actively encourage it at work.
1. Apple Example
Meditation was introduced to Apple employees while Steve Jobs was still alive. Jobs being a big proponent of meditation and zen life, allowed 30 minutes of meditation each day for each employee. This giant tech provided classes on meditation and yoga on-site and offered the use of a meditation room.
Yahoo is another example of a company that promotes meditation according to The Chopra Center. Yahoo offers meditation rooms and free meditation classes for their employees. This allows them to reduce stress while at work.
Lastly, the search giant Google started a program in 2007 according to the New York Times that focused on raising mindfulness awareness and promoting meditation. The program is called “Search Inside Yourself” and to-date it has helped more than 1000 employees learn how to breathe mindfully, listen to their coworkers, and improve their emotional intelligence. On top of that, the company offers meditation space and courses.
Practicing mindfulness has many benefits and it’s easy to get started. Here are four resources that’ll help you become more mindful.
1. Insight Timer
Insight Timer is a popular and free meditation app with more than 4,000 guided meditations from over 1,000 teachers. Topics include self-compassion, nature, stress, and many others. On top of that, the app also gives you access to various talks and podcasts.
2. Stop, Breathe & Think
This app starts you off with getting familiar with the concept of mindfulness first before letting you dive into meditation session. You can get access to 30 sessions for free. Sessions are centered around topics such as Breathe, Connect with Your Body, or Be Kind.
3. UCSD Center for Mindfulness
The UCSD Center for Mindfulness offers resources for learning more about mindful practices and guided meditations for practicing Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction.
Mindful.org website has hundreds of articles on mindful practices as well as various resources that’ll help you integrate mindfulness into your everyday life.
If you liked this tutorial about mindfulness practices at work, you may also like these other Envato Tuts+ tutorials about becoming more patient, creating a positive work environment, sleeping better, and more:
Start Practicing Mindfulness At Work for Better Productivity and Health
Mindful practice at work is not only beneficial for your physical and mental health, but also for your productivity and creativity. Use the tips in this article to learn how to be more mindful at work and join us in celebrating Mental Health Day by incorporating mindful exercises in your regular workday.