May 14, 2019
Health Chatter: Working mindfully
Mindfulness is all about slowing down and being present in the moment. In a busy workplace, it may seem counterintuitive to slow down but, in reality, we are more productive when we approach things in a calm and focused manner. This is what mindfulness can help us with, and why it’s important to learn how to work mindfully.
Download the PDF here to share with your teams
How to practice mindfulness at work
Set your intentions
Mindfulness doesn’t happen by accident – you have to decide to make it a part of your day. Say out loud or write down what you intend to do to work more mindfully today and why. We’re pre-wired to get lost in thought and the distractions and fast pace of modern life can keep speeding ahead, barely noticing the present moment. Acknowledging this is a fast route to burn out and setting a clear intention to do something about it will help you commit to working more mindfully.
Practice mindful exercises
Even short 1 minute mindful exercises can help you reset and refocus during the working day. If you can fit in a longer session once or twice a day too then you can really give your mind a chance to rest and recuperate. When we feel stressed it can be tempting to power on relentlessly, but these moments are the perfect time to take a step back and refocus, and make sure we’re using our energy in the best way.
It’s been proven that multi-tasking is bad for productivity. Our minds are much more effective when we focus all our attention on one thing at a time instead of flitting between tasks. Try to plan your day so you can focus on one thing at a time, and practice being fully present in that one task.
Use mindful reminders
Set yourself up to succeed by leaving yourself reminders to be mindful. These could be post-its on your favourite mug, an alarm set on your phone or computer, or whatever works for you.
Change your perspective and practice acceptance
Look on the bright side, every cloud has a silver lining… There is truth in clichés and these illustrate how we can find a positive in a negative situation. If you find yourself getting worked up about something, or avoiding a task because you dislike it, try changing your perspective. What would make you like the task more? Could you listen to some good music while you do it? Could you challenge yourself to find a better way of doing it? If you can’t change something, break the cycle of negativity by accepting it for what it is. E.g. Rather than say “I wish I didn’t have to do this”, change the narrative to “This is what I’m doing right now and I’m going to do it well”.
Take a break
Make your breaks at work count. Leave your workstation, switch your mind off from work matters and let it slow down and rest. Your lunch break is a great time to practice a longer mindfulness exercise – you could go for a mindful walk or pop your headphones in and find a guided mindful meditation online to listen to. Staying wound too tight all day can make your mind and work suffer, so take a proper break and come back refreshed and ready to roll.
Cultivate a growth mindset
A growth mindset is a way of thinking that assumes that you can grow and improve. It’s the opposite of a fixed mindset which assumes you are who you are forever and there’s no point trying. Everybody has the potential for positive change – the easiest way to start changing your mindset is saying ‘yet’. I can’t run a marathon… yet. I can’t focus during mindfulness exercises…yet. I can’t progress because I’m not clever enough…yet. It’s about taking each moment as it comes and being open to new possibilities. With a growth mindset, challenges become opportunities for growth instead of insurmountable hurdles to hold you back, and you live in the moment more rather than dwelling on the past.
It is important to practice mindfulness regularly to reap the full rewards. Like physical exercise, if you don’t put in the work, you won’t see much of a difference, and if you stop practicing your skill can suffer.
The benefits of working mindfully
Incorporating mindfulness into your work day can have numerous benefits. Research suggests that mindfulness at work can result in:
- Improved focus & concentration
- Increased productivity
- Reduced stress
- Reduced risk of depression
- Better conflict management
- Better emotional regulation
- Better decision making & problem solving
- Increased empathy
Luckily, mindfulness can be practiced almost anywhere. There are plenty of apps, tools and online resources to help guide you through a mindful meditation or even a full mindfulness course.
Mindfulness gets easier with practice, so keep at it!
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