Mindfulness can be defined as an activity involving focused awareness of the present moment. To put it simply, it is about being in the ‘here and now’ so that every moment, we are conscious of what we are doing. For starters, mindfulness is not meditation, though the effects are quite similar. However, it has become a popular pursuit these days, as people try to avoid being distracted by thoughts of the past, present, or future and just living in the present.
It is a habit that needs time to be cultivated since we are prone to stray from the present. By practicing mindfulness, our wandering mind slowly learns to focus on the moment we live in. The American Psychological Association suggests that mastering the art of mindfulness promises several benefits. These include lesser symptoms of depression, greater working memory capacity, improved attention span, a decrease in stress levels, enhanced cognitive flexibility, and overall better physical and mental health.
Breaks Are Mandatory
This might sound like a no-brainer, but how often do you get up from your workstation (be it at the office or home) and take a quick walk around? Taking intermittent breaks helps clear your mind of the piled-up stressors at work. If you can take a stroll outside your office with your colleague, well, even better! Find something beyond work to talk about, and try to get pro-actively involved in the conversation, rather than ending up in a rant against your boss or that annoying new client.
Back-to-Back Meetings Are a Strict No-No
Don’t let your day be crammed with back-to-back meetings, with no breathers in between. It will drain you out, to say the least, and ultimately, you’ll have a feeling of having accomplished nothing. Mindful scheduling of a day ensures adequate time between meetings to allow you to process everything that’s going on. On the other hand, skipping breaks adds to the stress, leaving you with a feeling of exhaustion and stagnancy.
Your Comfortable Space
We’re sure you don’t associate your cubicle with serenity, but little things can help make it a bit of an escape route. Try personalizing it with pictures from your vacations or maybe have a warm-colored lamp that tones down the typical office-like fluorescent lights. Your workspace should have some personal touch to make it seem somewhat like a comfort zone. It will instill mindfulness by helping you establish a stronger connection with your surroundings.
Being Present in Conversations
Don’t end up being the person who types away on his/her laptop or checks his/her phone during a meeting. Even if you are a good multitasker, you might give others the impression that you’re simply not paying attention and could care less. Instead, you should listen to others around you and share your responses in a way that shows you are taking an interest.
Short Mindfulness Exercises
Check out apps that help you practice guided breathing and quick meditations. You can make it part and parcel of your everyday work-life. Maintaining a journal or simply reflecting on the day can also make a significant difference in your life!
Practicing Mindfulness at Work
Here are some of the key benefits of practicing mindfulness at work:
De-Stressing: Mindfulness and meditation practice at the workplace can go a long way in reducing stress, which explains why top-notch organizations such as Google, Adobe, Goldman Sachs, etc. have introduced formal mindfulness programs. Consequently, mindfulness can also maximize employee engagement and productivity.
Absorbing Information: Mindfulness allows your brain to take a break from continued problem-solving and critical thinking, and it enables you to develop new skills. You will have space to absorb further information, which in turn promotes future learning.
Boosts Problem-Solving Skills: Mindfulness helps you de-clutter your mind, which, in turn, improves concentration. Once your mind is freed from distractions, it can process information from new angles and produce practical solutions.
Facilitates Creativity: Creativity is closely related to divergent thinking, which means the ability to come up with new ideas. By practicing mindfulness at work, you can think more innovatively than usual. Your mind can take on fresh perspectives and approach things with a new lens being free of distractions.
Nurtures Empathy: Empathy refers to understanding others’ minds and being able to relate to others’ emotional states. Practicing mindfulness will make it much easier for you to “stand in someone else’s shoes” when needed.
In conclusion, incorporating mindfulness at work every day may not seem to be effective at the beginning. However, with time, you will get better at it. Once you have mastered practicing mindfulness techniques, it will be easier for you to clear your mind and avoid being overwhelmed by work-related stress.