For many people, work is the greatest source of stress in our lives, so it stands to reason that incorporating some mindfulness practices into the workday could help increase employee satisfaction and resilience while decreasing frustration and stress levels.
Here are some ideas on how to incorporate mindfulness into your workday:
1. Make the choice to be mindful
Just like the start of most problem-solving strategies, the first step is to acknowledge that there’s a problem. Perhaps your worksite stress isn’t a problem yet (hopefully!), but you can acknowledge that there’s always room for improvement, and that you are going to commit to trying mindfulness as a way to reduce your stress levels.
2. Set an intention
Next, choose what your overall goal is going to be for your mindfulness practice. Do you want to be more calm during the work day? Do you want to feel less stress after you get home? Do you want more focus and organization? Whether it’s an intention for an hour, a day, a month, a year, or for your career, take some time to think about what your intentional goal will be.
3. Slow down
Lots of employees feel like they have their pace set for them by bosses, office culture, and project timelines. Realize that you’re really the only person who can set your pace, and the pace you pick should be one that’s sustainable in the long term.
4. Pick something and pay attention
Your overall goals aren’t going to happen in one fell swoop. Each day (or week, or month), pick a specific trait or habit that you’d like to improve on. Picture how your goal behavior is different from your current behavior and make a plan for how to transition from where you are now to where you want to be. Then do your best to enact that plan by noticing when you’re displaying the behavior you’re trying to correct, and instead moving to the new behavior.
5. Practice listening
This sounds easy, but can be very challenging for many people. We can hear many things going on around us, but active listening with the intent of understanding requires real focus. When working with a coworker, try to set aside your inner dialogue for a moment, and really listen to what he or she needs or wants. Only after you have a true understanding of their perspective should you decide how you want to react.
6. Focus on one thing at once
Next time you’re out for a run, try also eating a bowl of chili. You don’t have to actually try this experiment to realize that even if you do succeed, it’s probably going to be difficult, messy, and a whole lot more trouble than it was worth. The same goes for when you’re working. Pick a task, and be wholly in that task while you’re doing it. That probably means closing your email, silencing your phone, and taking care of any food/bathroom breaks you might need before you get started. You’ll find that, not only do you get your task done more quickly and efficiently, you’ll also make less mistakes that you have to go back and clean up later (like that spilled chili on your run).
7. Recognize the accomplishments of others
Tunnel vision can be a big problem in many workplaces. We all get so singularly focused on what we’re trying to accomplish is individuals that we forget to help our coworkers celebrate their accomplishments. A little bit of active listening can help clue you in when something big is happening for your coworkers, and a little congratulations can take you a long way when it comes to improving office morale.
8. Take a meditation minute
It’s a little sad that taking a ‘smoke break’ is acceptable in a lot of places, but taking a ‘wellness break’ is seen as strange. Don’t let that deter you, though. When you’ve noticed that you’re feeling a little overwhelmed, take a moment to yourself to destress. If you can, find a place where you can sit comfortably, shut your eyes, and try to focus solely on your breathing, letting other thoughts disappear. Let your shoulders drop and the muscles in your neck, mouth, and face relax. If you need to, set a timer to bring you back to reality, but use those few minutes to feel refreshed so you can refocus on the task at hand.
It’s one thing to take these practices on for yourself, but it’s completely different if you share these practices with coworkers and actively work to create a culture of mindfulness. Even if you share with a couple close work friends, if you all start to see a drop in your stress levels, odds are they’ll share the practices with others, or your coworkers may ask why you’ve seemed so much more calm lately.
10. Connect with other experts
One of the best ways to improve your practice, regardless of whether it’s mindfulness or any other wellness technique, is to compare notes with other experts to find out what’s working and what’s not.
Those are 10 ways that you can incorporate mindfulness into your workday. Do you have other suggestions? Let us know in the comments!