How to Practice Mindfulness Throughout Your Work Day
Picture this for a moment: you start your day at work with deadlines, calls, and meetings, all structured perfectly so you get the most out of the eight or nine hours in the office. In what seems like no time at all, the day is at an end and you’ve accomplished as much as you could possibly do, but can’t fathom why you haven’t checked everything off your list. If this sounds familiar, you could be like the other 47% of people who spend most of their waking hours on autopilot; thinking about something other than what we are doing.
Becoming more focussed and mindful may seem like a cliché, but more and more leaders in major organisations are turning to mindfulness techniques throughout their day.
How and when to practice mindfulness during the work day
Getting out the right side of the bed
Researchers have found that beginning your day with mindfulness can counteract the initial release of cortisol into our blood, this stress hormone is triggered within minutes of waking when you think about your day ahead. So taking just a few minutes to do a mindfulness exercise is a great start to the day, before your feet hit the floor.
When you wake up, spend two minutes in your bed simply noticing your breath; just being aware as the air moves in and out through your nostrils, but don’t try to change your breathing pattern. As thoughts about the day flash into your mind, let them go and return the focus to your breath.
Before the office door opens
On or before arrival at work, either while still in the car or in your office, sit upright with your eyes closed and relax. During this 10-minute exercise, put all your focus into the action of your breathing; be aware of your chest filling with oxygen and then falling; breathing in, breathing out. It may help to count on each inhalation, just to keep that ongoing flow of attention.
At the beginning, it is common to find your mind wondering during your sessions, but simply release any distracting thoughts by returning the focus to your breath.
Allowing yourself this 10-minute brain-booster is an enjoyable way to give yourself the attention you need before you hit the office floor running.
Increase your effectiveness with mindfulness at work
Mindfulness is about developing a sharp, clear mind, and the more practice you do, the more you can hone your skills of focus and awareness.
Having focus enables you to concentrate on the task at hand in that moment, while awareness is the ability to recognise and release unnecessary distractions as they crop up.
The ‘ping’ of an email landing in your inbox, non-urgent phone calls, and general office noise can be simple distractions to seduce your attention away from your task, but once you have begun to practice mindfulness in every aspect of your work environment, you will be able to recognise and release distractions as they arise, and it’s in this way that mindfulness can help increase effectiveness, decrease mistakes, and even enhance creativity.
As the board room meetings begin, take two minutes to practice mindfulness beforehand. This will allow you to have crisp thoughts and alleviate a wandering mind, leading to a shorter more effective meeting.
If meetings are booked back-to-back, try to allow 5 minutes of mindfulness exercise in between to ensure a clear, mental transition to the next meeting.
After lunch fatigue
A typical time for your brain to tire is after lunch, but using mindfulness activities can help you stay sharp and avoid poor decisions. Use mindfulness performance breaks on the hour, every hour.
To do this, simply set a timer on your watch or phone, then when it alerts you, cease your current activity and do one minute of mindfulness practice. These exercises will help keep you from slipping into autopilot.
At the end of the work day
When the clock ticks over to the end of the day and it’s time for the journey home, use this time to apply mindfulness techniques. Turn off your phone and radio for at least 10 minutes and just turn your attention to your breath, acknowledging and dismissing the thoughts that arise.
Taking this time out will allow you to let go of the stresses of the day, and you can be fully present with your family on your return home.
Making mindfulness work for you
Mindfulness is about enhancing your focus and awareness in all aspects of your life and melting away the distractions around you. There is a misconception that mindfulness is a difficult skill, one that requires years of practice to be effective, but even beginners see the benefits and skill levels only improve over time.
Mindfulness therapy sessions are just one of the many modules taught during a program at The Fountainhead Retreat and an important tool in the holistic treatment of depression and anxiety. Many clients believe practising mindfulness in the work and home environments have been a stepping stone to better mental health.
Take control of your stress: test these techniques for 14 days and see if you go from zero to hero in your workplace.
For more advice on natural stress relief or to enquire about a program at Fountainhead Retreat, Contact Us or call 1300 294 290 for a free consultation with our admissions team.