We live in a world where the words ‘busy’, ‘work harder’, and ‘stress’ are commonplace. It’s easy to get lost in the rat-race of busyness. We work, we parent, we spend time with our family and friends. But oftentimes, from the moment we wake until the moment we fall asleep, we’re chasing our tails.
I get it! I’m a mum with three young children, was a school teacher for 10 years and now run my own business. I know too well the feelings of being stressed and constantly running from one task to another, never feeling like I’m on top of it all. It caused me to think, are we destined to be like this? Or is there a better way?
I’m happy to say that three years ago I found a solution through the practice of mindfulness. I’ve noticed an incredible shift in how I work, think and operate – both in my business and personal life. Practising mindfulness allows us to bring greater awareness to our situation, helps us to understand our emotions, and to respond rather than react. This results in lower stress levels, better relationships and most importantly, a happier version of you!
In the workplace, research shows that companies which implement mindfulness techniques generally see:
• enhanced decision-making skills
• more effective communication
• stronger teams and leaders
• superior creativity and innovation
• reduced stress levels
• enhanced team culture
• happier and more engaged employees.
You may be thinking this sounds great, but where do I begin? To get you started, here are six simple ways to be more mindful at work:
1.NO EMAILS IN THE FIRST 30 MINUTES – USE THIS TIME TO PLAN YOUR DAY
Who’s been guilty of checking their email and social media ‘likes’ before they get out of bed in the morning? We live in a society where it’s extremely hard to switch off. But it’s important to begin the day on your terms, doing things that arebeneficial for you, things that help youprepare for your day. Intention setting is a great way to do this. When setting three-five intentions of what you want to achieve throughout your day you’re more likely to do them.
CALL TO ACTION: Put pen to paper before checking your emails when you arrive at work. Set intentions, schedule your events/tasks/
2.PRACTISE GRATITUDE – FOCUS ON WHAT WENT WELL, RATHER THAN WHAT DIDN’T
Gratitude is an effortless way to implement a mindfulness practice into your workday. When we focus our attention on what’s good in our lives we increase the release of dopamine – one of the happy hormones.
CALL TO ACTION: When leaving work for the day, focus on three things that you’re grateful for. Also reflect on three wins you had during your day. This helps to train the brain into seeing the good in our lives, therefore allowing more of the same to follow.
3.MINDFUL EATING – SLOW DOWN AND ENJOY YOUR FOOD
CALL TO ACTION: When you’re on your next lunch break make a conscious effort to step away from your workspace. Go to a different room, go outside, eat with your colleagues. Take your time to enjoy and savour the food rather than eating it mindlessly. Pay attention to where the food has come from, give thanks for it. How does the food taste? What does it feel like in your mouth? What does it smell like? Give your food the attention it deserves. You’ll notice a greater sense of appreciation for it.
4. MINDFUL BREATHING – DO THIS ANY TIME OF THE DAY BUT ALSO WHEN YOU’RE STRESSED
Workplace stress – we have it, but we don’t want it. A small amount of stress is good for us. It helps us when we’re in danger. Stress becomes a problem when it’s compounded. Continual stress impacts us in many ways – in our mind, body and soul. It’s key to recognise when you’re feeling unnecessary stress, whether it be worrying about the past or projecting to the future. By bringing our awareness to our stress triggers we can redirect it. Using our breath is the simplest way to do this because we have our breath no matter what situation we’re in.
CALL TO ACTION: The next time you experience stress at work do this:
• Recognise that you’re feeling stressed. “I am experiencing stress right now.”
• Take a deep cleansing breath in, to the count of four.
• Hold the breath for four counts.
• Slowly breath out to the count of four.
• Repeat 3 times.
This simple technique is a way to ground yourself and limit unnecessary stress.
5. BE A SINGLE TASKER, NOT A MULTI-TASKER
Gone are the days where ‘multi-tasking’ is considered productive. To be mindful at work you need to focus on one task at a time. This seems like a simple request, but we continue to race from one task to the next. This creates the ‘scatter brain’ effect, like having too many tabs open in our internet browser and not giving any one the attention it needs.
CALL TO ACTION: Being a single tasker means to focus your time, attention and energy on one task at a time. When you slip into ‘multi-tasking’ mode, STOP. Bring your awareness to it and gently redirect your6attention back to what you were doing.
6. SCHEDULE BREAKS IN YOUR WORKDAY
Giving ourselves breaks within the workday increases our productivity. Researchers have found that for every 90 minutes of dedicated work timeyou should aim to have a 10-15 minutebreak. This refocuses our mind and stops us from experiencing stress and overwhelm.
CALL TO ACTION: In your ‘morning planning meeting’ with yourself, schedule times within your day to take breaks. Actively step away from your workspace, especially the computer screen if that’s where you spend most of your time. Hydrate yourself and do some exercise. Go for a walk outside. Getting fresh air does wonders for the soul.