Bringing one’s attention on the present, being in the moment. That is the central idea of mindfulness. It comes from Buddhist traditions and meditation techniques and the concept has recently become popular in many parts of the Western world.
With screens everywhere – phones, computers, TVs, billboards, etc – our attention is often being torn from one place to another and many people feel like their attention span is decreasing. It becomes more and more difficult to really focus on one thing for an extended period of time. Especially at work, this can lead to more stress when our mind jumps from one task to another. We might even go home without remembering what exactly kept us so busy the whole day.
To train yourself to be more mindful you don’t have to meditate every day, a few tricks and exercises can already help you to focus more on the present.
Focus and awareness
Those are the two key factors in mindfulness exercises. One basic exercise is focusing only on your breathing to achieve a calm emotional state. When trying to focus on just inhaling and exhaling for even a minute you might find your mind wandering off to other thoughts. It is important to not become frustrated but to be aware of these thoughts and acknowledge them to then calmly bring your attention back. Taking a few moments throughout the day to only focus on your breathing helps you to calm down and trains your brain to stay with one thing. This improves your productivity at work, your personal relationships and can make you happier all around since studies have shown that people are generally unhappier when their minds are constantly wandering off.
Being more mindful at work
Be aware of your body and senses
Think about this: When you shower or wash your hands, do you really feel the water on your skin? Do you really feel the weight of the blanket when you sleep? How do you feel the wind and sun on your face when you’re out on the streets? By bringing your attention to how your body feels in different situations you practice focusing on the present.
- At work a little reminder can help you remember to be aware of your body and to release tensions you weren’t aware of: Take a few deep breaths, unclench your jaw, remember to blink enough and correct your posture. This little reminder can be your favorite mug, a fun figure from your favorite tv show or just a little sticky note on the edge of your computer screen.
Don’t try to multitask
People are generally more productive when they are able to focus on one task. That is why it’s important to have a clear overview of what you need to do that day, that week and month.
- Keep a well structured and easy to read calendar to not constantly worry about forgetting something.
- Remember to be finished with one task before you move on to another. If you are working on different projects, set your goals for the day.
- Establish a no phone policy for meetings at work and only bring the essentials: a pen and notebook will do. If one person can take notes for everybody and later pass them around, even better.
Studies have shown that people are less happy when their minds are constantly wandering off. Mindfulness trains your ability to focus and bring your attention to the present.
Respect your breaks
If you work in an office in front of a computer, it is important to stretch regularly and get up from your desk for a few minutes every hour. Your back will thank for it and it helps your mind loosen up again. Obsessing over a task and focusing on it are two very different things.
- Remind yourself to get up from your desk with little excuses: Instead of having one giant water bottle at your desk, you could go for short walks to refill your smaller reusable cup or bottle.
- Get some fresh air whenever you can do: Go for a walk or find a nice place to sit outside and do some mindfulness exercise or simply allow yourself to be with your thoughts.
- If you can, find a place to do some stretches. Animate your colleagues to also bring their yoga mats and do some physical exercise, focusing on every part of your body.
Being more mindful in life definitely requires some practice. The key thing to remember here is to be aware of your surroundings and yourself. Learning to be aware of your senses helps you notice when your body and mind ache for a break. And being able to focus on thing at the time improves your productivity and interpersonal relationships.
Did you find these tips helpful? What do you do to relax and not get stressed at work? Tell us in the comments!