We’re living in a society in which people pride themselves with how much they work and how busy they are. You’re considered successful if you come home late – you’re considered hard working. There are cultural differences in each country, but that’s the general tone we grew up with.
However, there is a slight shift to be observed when you look closely enough. Companies are becoming more aware of the well-being of their employees. Mental health and burnout are no longer taboo words but are discussed openly. All this helps us to not only see ourselves as participants in a rat race, but to remind ourselves that we’re human beings with personal lives – that we’re working to live and not living to work.
Too often companies put a lot of pressure on us. Also, our own expectations are high. While employers can support a healthy workplace, it is our own responsibility to manage stress well in order to stay healthy.
Integrating some mindfulness exercises into your work day can make a big difference in your well-being.
Here are 5 tips that have the potential to turn your working day around:
- One task at a time
As human beings we love to multitask. Our mind is at numerous places at the same time, it never stands still. The Buddhists call this busy mind the Monkey Mind as it jumps around from place to place.
We are proud of being productive. But are we really? Do we get stuff done? Multitasking often just results in increased stress and in not completing a single task. It always bears the risk of making mistakes as our attention is divided among multiple topics. There are other ways of getting your work done efficiently.
Tackle one task at a time and you will see that you tick off your ‘to do” list much quicker. You’re 100% focused on a single task. The quality of your work will be better and you will be calmer and know exactly what you are doing and can present your work confidently.
- Don’t eat at your desk
Oh, haven’t we all been there? If you are of the opinion that you’re just too busy to take even 15 minutes away from our email inbox – think again.
As good and reliable workers we think we need to get back to clients right away. Well, no. Take your full lunch break away from your desk. This can include a walk to get a fresh load of oxygen in your heavily used brain cells, a visit to a restaurant or just sitting in a quiet corner of your office – by yourself or with colleagues – while having lunch. Anything that gives your mind a break is great.
When you’re eating by yourself, don’t check your phone. Focus on your food and eat mindfully. Take your time. This will also keep you full longer.
After some laughs with colleagues many seemingly unsolvable problems won’t look as grim anymore. Plus, the boost of energy helps you once you’ve come back to your desk.
- Take a walk
In busy office environments it is easy to become overwhelmed from the many tasks that are being added to your work day. How in the world should I do all this? Sound familiar? In many offices, spaces for retreat and relaxation are missing. It’s hard to find a place where you can take a few deep breaths and think about what’s happening rationally. If you need a break, try taking a walk – 5 minutes is enough to put things into perspective. Walk briskly to get your heart pumping and your body filled up with fresh air or make it a slow, meditative walk – focusing on every single step you take.
A short walk also helps to wake you up when the afternoon slump hits. So next time you’re reaching for your third cup of coffee, turn around and head for the door instead.
- Focus on one sense
Focusing on one sense can really ground us. On a busy day in the office we often shut out our senses and forget to breathe properly.
Is your desk close to a window where you can hear the birds sing? Take a moment to enjoy listening to nature. Do you have a nice view? Turn your gaze away from your computer screen and look out the window. It has a very calming effect.
You can also take the moments you’re away from your desk to do a short mindfulness exercise.
When you’re waiting in the kitchen for the coffee machine to grind and pour the coffee, take a moment to close your eyes and smell the delicious aroma. Or if you’re waiting for the kettle to boil, focus on your breath and take some deep, slow, calming inhales and even slower exhales. Smell the tea that you’re sipping. It will bring your racing mind right back to the moment and will help you to think clearer.
When you’re visiting a colleague on another floor, take the stairs and walk slowly while focusing on your breath.
- Be mindful in interaction with colleagues
It’s difficult for us to take on feedback. It is equally difficult to deliver productive feedback.
Even if feedback from your boss is not delivered well, as unfortunately often happens in a busy workplace; instead of firing back and being offended, take a breath and see if it is justified. Don’t take on unjustified feedback but learn from productive feedback and see it as an opportunity to grow.
If you are having an argument with a colleague, try to see their perspective as well. Maybe she or he is getting pressure from the supervisor. Be mindful in all your interactions – it makes the workplace, and especially your own life at work, much easier and more peaceful.
Regular mindfulness exercises help us pause before we respond to outside triggers. This extra moment can manifest the tone and outcome of your conversations and argument. Chances are both are more positive and lighthearted, less hurtful and more professional.
Try to think of these tips next time you’re stressed and hectic at work. These small changes have real power to make your work day more pleasant and peaceful.