How to Stay Mindful at Work

Workplace mindfulness- what is it, how do I do it and how can it help me?

Well, if you often find yourself feeling stressed during your workday, it can completely change the way you deal with stressful situations.

Regular mindfulness practice can help lower stress levels, chances of burnout and anxiety. Mindfulness can also help you regulate your feelings such as anger, overwhelm and frustration.

Most of us tend to move through the workday with very little awareness. The key to staying mindful while at work, is staying in touch with your senses, focusing on single-tasking and recognizing when it’s necessary to remove yourself from a charged situation.

HOW TO STAY MINDFUL AT WORK

How-to-stay-mindful-at-work

STAY GROUNDED

Whenever you feel like you’re being pulled in million different directions, practice some focused breathing. Treat your breath as your built-in stress reliever. When you start feeling stressed, stop and pay attention to your breathing-usually, your breath becomes rapid and shallow. Tune into your breath, breathe deeply, expanding your belly, rather than breathing through your chest. Once you make it a habit and practice it on regular basis, you can literally breathe your stress out. Next, you can tune into your senses, notice what’s happening around you, stay connected to your body throughout the day.

SINGLE-TASKING

Group tasks in categories, switch off distractions. Single-tasking is the fastest way to boosting your productivity. When there are emails to answer to, phone calls to be made, requests/memos to be written, it’s best to group your tasks into categories. Try and do 10 different things at once, and you’ll end up either making errors or having to double, triple check everything. When you’re putting 100% of your attention into a single task, you’re automatically increasing your productivity. I find that writing things down, having a short list of things you need to get done, helps that focus to stay in one place. Once you have everything written down on a piece of paper, you don’t have to wonder whether or not you’re forgetting something, thus minimizing your distractions and interruptions when monotasking. I mean, sure, some tasks are more urgent than others and sometimes you need to stop what you’re doing in order to take care of another problem or issue that comes up. The key is to prioritize your tasks and tackle them one at a time.

MINDFUL REMINDERS

Doing something as small as taking a deep breath or a quick time-out, can be a life-saver during a stressful time and help you stay mindful at work. Towards the end of the day, your mind usually starts to wander and you might become a bit less efficient. Set reminders for yourself, every hour or so, on your phone, and take a few, deep breaths or do some mindfulness exercises. This will help you stay focused and present throughout the day. 

TAKE BREAKS

Cognitive time-out can help you decrease that end-of-the-day stress, but it can also help you detach yourself from work and leave work, at work. If you find yourself in a charged situation and feel your stress levels rise, take a small break. Remove yourself from the situation that triggered stress, even if just for a minute or two. Grab a glass of water, take a walk down the hall or, if possible, go outside and take a quick walk out in the fresh air. Make it a habit to check in with yourself throughout the day and be a little more aware of your feelings.

STRATEGIC ACCEPTANCE

Sometimes, shit hits the fan. There are days when you’re at the office and every single thing goes wrong. On some days, you just have to accept things you can’t change. This includes stuff that happens at work. Here’s a little example. A few weeks ago I had a real estate closing and despite all the paperwork being prepared weeks in advance, multiple emails and phone calls being placed to another party’s attorney in order to approve the paperwork, it wasn’t until 30 minutes into the closing that they notified me of some major changes that had to be made to the documents. I was actually getting ready to leave the office when… well, shit hit the fan. I mean, there were papers flying around and the entire atmosphere in the office changed in a heartbeat.

Whenever you’re dealing with time-sensitive matters such as this one, you always dread something going wrong. Once it occasionally does, it’s hard to keep your cool- especially when you know that your work was done weeks in advance and that you’re short on time. That’s when strategic acceptance comes into play. You kind of just have to realize that throwing around blame, anger and expressing your extreme frustration won’t do much to help the situation. You have to accept it for what it is and tell yourself: “okay, what is the first step that I can take in order to resolve this issue?” and then take that first step. Things go wrong all the time and sometimes there’s just no way of going around it.

SIMPLIFY

Physical clutter, disorganization, distractions- these are all things that can affect your productivity when working. They can also all allow overwhelm to take over. Automate, whatever you can to make things easier for yourself. Eliminate anything non-essential. By simplifying, you are taking some control over your work life.

Letting go of judgment is also something that not only can help you stay mindful, but it can also change the way you deal with workplace stress. Both when it comes to judging yourself, and others. Try to consider situations from a different point of view, before jumping into conclusions.

Do you try to stay mindful at work? Are there any techniques or rituals you turn to when feeling stressed during your workday?

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