How often do you find yourself running on autopilot at work?
In our ultra-busy lives, it can be all too easy to slip into a mindless state and read a page or two without actually absorbing any content, or arrive home without any recollection of driving there. It’s a habit that many of us fall into during our work day too, going through tasks in a mindless state.
So how can we avoid this and be more aware of what is going on around us? The answer: mindfulness. Here’s how you can bring the practice of mindfulness into the workplace for 2024.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a technique that is often used and associated with meditation. It has been proven to be beneficial for overall wellbeing and trains the brain to be present in every situation, rather than letting outside thoughts and feelings overwhelm you.
Mindfulness also allows a person to be fully engaged in an activity without distractions, and means that the thoughts and feelings that pop up in our lives don’t overwhelm us.
The Black Dog Institute describes mindfulness as, “A state of being in the present, accepting things for what they are”. They also note that being mindful is not just a relaxation technique, or simply having a positive mindset, but instead it is a form of self-awareness training.
What are the benefits?
Mindfulness is beneficial for everyone – it can help to improve self-awareness and overall wellbeing. While it won’t completely eradicate your stress, it will help to accept outside factors of life without overanalysing.
Being mindful has been linked to increased levels of happiness, compassion and acceptance, while also improving levels of focus.
Mental health app and website Headspace has found that after eight weeks of mindfulness, the brain starts to become rewired towards more positive thoughts and emotions.
How to practice mindfulness at work
1. Breathing exercise
For this exercise, you can remain seated at your desk, or simply step away to a quiet place.
Focus on your breathing. The inhale, the exhale, how your lungs fill up with each breath, and how your chest rises and falls.
This exercise can be done as a standalone if you need a moment to be mindful, but it can also be done while you are working if you notice that you are not completely focused or engaged.
2. Mindful eating
During your lunch break, try to spend it away from your desk or any other distractions. Leave the devices like your laptop or phone, and enjoy the experience of eating.
Focus on all the small details, from the smell, the taste, and even notice how the food has been cut up. You may be surprised about how the food starts to taste when you are focused on it.
Mindful eating has also been proven to aid in digestion.
While this may sound easy, single-tasking is harder than it seems! It asks us to shut out other distractions and focus on one task in its entirety.
You can do this by closing your browser tabs for anything unnecessary, or closing your email if you do not need it. Anything that isn’t necessary for you to complete a task shouldn’t be open.
This allows us to remain engaged and can even make us more efficient, while also preventing us from multi-tasking and losing our focus.
This exercise is best to be done at the end of the day, or after you have completed a task.
Simply write down 3-5 things that you are grateful for, and take a moment to appreciate how each of them made you feel. It could be gratitude for a big goal you have been working towards, or something as small as submitting a task early.
While a gratitude list is great to incorporate at the end of your work day, it is also an exercise that can be used in day to day life to celebrate the small (and big) wins!