While you may not want to sit cross-legged in the middle of your cubicle letting out long “oooommmmm” sounds for 20 minutes every day, there are easier (and less eye-turning) ways to incorporate mindfulness into your day-to-day. Here are 5 simple ways to be more mindful as you work.
Practice the one-minute meditation.
Everyone, no matter what your job, can find 1 minutes each day for themselves. Next time you take a break to do something less mindful (like checking your text messages, personal email, or making a quick call), consider instead giving that minute entirely to yourself. Find a quiet place, relax, and close your eyes. Focus on your breathing, the sensations going through your body in that very moment, how each limb feels to be resting or supporting one another. As you notice different sensations in each part of yourself, consciously calm the area you’re focusing on. When you feel like you’ve reconnected with your body and the present moment, open your eyes. You’ll be amazed at how just a few seconds of internal focus can make the rest of your day more manageable and fulfilling.
Be present in every personal interaction.
It’s easy to answer your coworkers question without even looking up from your computer or fill your water cup without engaging in the small talk going on around you. Instead of brushing by the people around, engage fully in every in-person interaction you come across. This doesn’t mean you have to sit and have an existential, heart-to-heart with every person who asks if you have a stapler at your desk. It just means that when they do, you engage in the action completely. Separate yourself from what you were previously doing. Acknowledge the person fully, and say “you’re welcome” with a smile and eye contact when they thank you. By giving your full attention to the people you’re speaking to, you will foster better interpersonal relationships, better understand what those around you need and how you can help, and you’ll have the opportunity to get back into the present moment if you lost track of it working at your desk the past few hours.
Stop rushing through your lunch break.
First of all, stop eating at your desk. It’s sad, unnecessary, and you should never do it again (okay, maybe not never.) Second, find a calm place to eat, and savor each bite of food from beginning to end. Not only is eating quickly bad for digestion, but sitting at your desk from the moment you walk in to the moment you leave is bad for your health and stress levels. Worried that you’ll look less dedicated or miss something crucial while you’re away from your desk? Be the person to spark this change in your office. Invite the people around you to join you for lunch in the break room or cafeteria. You’ll help everyone feel more refreshed and focused, which is good for the whole team.
When you’re walking to a meeting or to take a bathroom break, don’t multitask on your phone. Don’t rush. Don’t go over your meeting prep notes one last time. Don’t do anything but focus on the exact steps you are taking in that very moment. Haven’t had a reason to stand up from your desk in an hour or two? Take a lap around the office just because. Chances are no one is going to question where you’re walking, and if they do, you can say you’re stretching you’re legs. We often see walking to and from things as a hassle or something stopping us from those few extra moments of productivity. Stop it. Walking is good for you. We should all be enjoying every moment of movement we get in our increasingly sedentary lifestyles. Walk mindfully by focusing on the sensation of the ground beneath your feet and the cadence of your breath. Greet other around the office as you go and engage in their responses to you. You’ll feel more energized and refreshed each time you walk.
Mindfulness has it’s limitations. Figure out the root of your stress.
Today’s workplace is often a fast-paced, output-oriented battleground that pushes us to and past our mental limits. Mindfulness can help you manage your stress, but working 50+ hours every week, being part of a toxic team, or being held to unrealistic expectations will lead to exhaustion, poor morale, and depleted productivity. Managing your emotional response to stress is only part of taking care of yourself. It’s also important to manage the causes of your stress as well. Take time to figure out the underlying factors that are causing your stress and possible solutions to fix them. Then enact those solutions. If you come across an inherent problem that can’t be fixed, it might be time to move onto a new job. Your wellness is the most important consideration, and no promotion, salary increase, or level of power is worth sacrificing your happiness every day for. Hopefully bringing more mindfulness into your life will help you tell the difference between the things you can and cannot control.
Your positivity and engagement around the office will not only make you more happy and engaged, but it will most likely be appreciated by everyone who interacts with you. Never be afraid to be the change you want to see, in your workplace or otherwise.
John Kaweske has been practicing meditation and mindfulness for nearly two decades. For more information about his life and experience, please visit John Kaweske’s main website.