Some people will tell you that mindfulness doesn’t belong in the workplace. Luckily more and more organisations are realising the importance of mental health and are adopting mindfulness as the approved method for looking after employees whilst they work.
Easy ways to practice Mindfulness whilst working
No one can deny that our day jobs are getting more and more stressful. We have ever growing numbers of emails in our inboxes. Our bosses want reports done so quickly you need to master time travel to get meet the deadlines. And somehow we all seem to have gained a second mobile phone which is constantly ringing. I don’t know about you but I find it too much to handle sometimes. In this article I am going to outline some techniques I use to help me manage my stress levels and be as productive as I can be at work.
1. Be present in the moment
The hardest but most obvious one for anyone who’s practicing mindfulness in other parts of their lives. Trying to keep your head in the moment you are in can be really tricky when we have to do lists as long as our arms. Our brains struggle to concentrate on what is happening at any one time.
If you find your brain spiralling, ask yourself what you and see, hear and feel. Asking these simple questions can sometimes be enough to bring you back into the here and now. Maybe add in your favourite herbal tea and use that as another prompt to keep you in the moment when things are getting tough.
2. Do one thing at a time!
How often are you writing a really important report and you see an email pop up which you ‘just quickly’ reply to? Next thing you know, three hours have passed and you haven’t been back to the report since.
If you have something you need to get done by a certain time, shut your emails, silence your phone and come back to them later. Tell people in the office you need to get this done so they don’t interrupt you. If you’re worried that an urgent message might get missed, give you phone to a colleague and ask them to only let you come and get you if they absolutely have to.
Believe it or not, most of those interruptions can actually wait. The people who sent them probably won’t even notice that you didn’t reply instantly.
3. Slow down
When we have so much on our plates, we rush. We speed through our work only to find out a week later that it needs tweaking or more information added in. By rushing we think we are getting things done more quickly, but instead we end up having to revise those tasks because we haven’t completed the task properly.
Instead, if we try taking our time with each aspect of our job we do it properly and end up saving ourselves time in the long term. Invest your time in the short term. (This is obviously a lot easier if you adopt the previous point as well)
4. Be humble
No-one is perfect. Nobody knows everything. If you don’t understand what is required of you, ask! If you did something wrong, admit to it. Learn from situations and others. It means you will actually do a better job, you will be less stressed, and should you find yourself in the same situation later on, you will know what to do.
You might even find you have better working relationships as well. Nobody likes a know-it-all. People respect others who know their limitations. In a previous managerial role, I always preferred people ask and got it right, then didn’t and left me to pick up the pieces.
5. Be grateful
It might sound a bit weird, but this one helps me a lot. If you think about it, you wouldn’t be able to do your job without your team or your boss. Show them you appreciate them by showing some gratitude.
A little thanks goes a long way and you would be surprised how it can change the dynamics of the work place into a more positive one. It doesn’t even have to be for anything special. A simple thank you to your team at the end of the day or a thanks to your manager when they support you can have a huge impact on the dynamics between you and others.
6. Have a Mantra
In my old job, I used to have a note stuck to the wall that my work bestie gave me when I went for the interview. It simply said “good luck”. It stayed with me the entire time I was at that job. It reminded me that actually luck didn’t have anything to do with it. I was more than capable of doing that job. Despite how I might have felt in that stressful situation, I was competent and that’s why they employed me.
Find yourself a little message or mantra that either comforts you or reminds you how good you are. Place it somewhere visible so when it’s all getting on top of you, you can read it. It makes a massive difference.
You don’t have to keep the same mantra for years on end. Some people change it weekly and others even daily. Find what works for you and run with it. You could even make it a team thing to boost morale.
7. Don’t have your lunch at your desk
I am massively guilty of eating at my desk. We think it’s easier because we can quickly reply to those emails or catch up on other bits of admin. The problem is, this doesn’t give our minds a chance to rest.
It’s so important to have that bit of downtime during lunch. Without it, anything you do in the afternoon will be impacted by that lack of rest. This is especially difficult if you work from home. Guilt makes us think we have to be glued to the laptop for 8 hours solid, when in reality if you were in an office you would be getting up regularly to talk to team members, make drinks etc.
So instead of sitting at the desk, make a point to go and sit in the staff room or find a nice spot outside if the weather is nice.
If you’re sat with colleagues, make sure you banish the work talk for half an hour too. That counts as work too!
8. Actively listen to people
Sound easy right? But how often do you see someone in the corridor and then offload on them for 20 mins and walk away!! Or worse, a colleague asks you if you can help with something or send you some information, but your mind wandered and as soon as they walk away you realise you haven’t got a clue what it is you’re meant to be doing for them! We have two ears and one mouth for a reason (I sound like my mum now!).
Try and actively listen to your coworkers. It’ll stop communication breakdown which leads to even more work in the long term. Our concentration naturally dips in and out of situations, so you will need to practice it. Most importantly, make sure you confirm what you agree to do for others before they walk away!
Sometimes the list of things we need to get done just gets longer and longer and you feel like you’re swimming through custard.
When this happens, I like to switch my monitor off and take a few deep breaths. There are loads of apps you can get for your phone to help you take a couple of minutes to calm down and refocus.
You can even take a few breaths whilst the kettle is boiling. When it clicks, it’s time to refocus and crack on!
If things really are getting on top of you, go for a little walk. Either just walk around your building or instead of sending an email, go and find that person and talk to them.
Sometimes we need to take ourselves out of a situation. By doing this the brain has time to calm down and can be a bit more rational about what is going on.
I often find this helps me realise things aren’t as bad as I thought they were. It’s a bit like when you walk away from an argument and start to realise that you were overreacting.
What do you think?
Hopefully you can see that these few simple tricks could help you out at work. Have a go and you might find they’re easier than you thought they would be.