How to Be Mindful in Work and Life

Following simple steps for how to be mindful in the workplace, you can reduce stress, increase job satisfaction, and experience more appreciation for life.

Mindfulness is a state of mind marked by awareness in the present setting rather than negative attention on past events or worry about the future. Reaching mindfulness involves keeping the focus on the here and now in an accepting, non-judgmental fashion. In the workplace, mindfulness can prove quite valuable and the results, amazing. However, learning how to be mindful isn’t always as easy as it sounds. It takes effort.

In this article, we’ll cover insights and techniques for how to become more mindful at work.

Becoming more mindful at work

The concept of mindfulness sounds great in theory. But people might wonder how complicated it is to achieve in everyday life. Between the hustle and bustle in their personal and professional lives, is it time-consuming to practice mindfulness in daily life?

The truth is, not really. It isn’t as if you need to meditate for hours a week, or even every day. You can inject simple mindful exercises and behaviors into your daily routine between meetings, phone calls, and emails. Doing so on a regular basis can help you gradually replace negative emotions with the positive effects of mindfulness practice.

Things to become mindful of

Simply by a committed approach to mindfulness, you’ll already put yourself on the path to heightened awareness and achieving success. By monitoring a few things both at work and at home, you’ll be well on your way. For example:

  • Identifying negative emotions
  • Recognizing aversions to situations
  • Monitoring blood pressure
  • Making eye contact when speaking to others
  • Paying attention to stress levels
  • Raising awareness of food consumption habits and noticing patterns of emotional eating
  • Demonstrating mindfulness of drinking, as in health value vs. sugar or alcohol content
  • Practicing mindfulness of breathing
  • Practicing mindful eating (e.g. avoiding stress eating)

It’s also worth recognizing how being mindful of something specific in your personal life can impact and/or improve your work life. And vice versa; there is often no firm line dividing the two.

Basic mindfulness exercises to practice throughout the workday

People spend a significant amount of their time at their jobs. According to the American Institute of Stress, 83% of workers in the United States struggle with work-related stress. Furthermore, 25% say their jobs cause the most stress in their lives. And 76% indicate that work stress affects their personal relationships. Each day, a whopping 1 million Americans miss work due to the stress they suffer.

These days, a number of big-name companies teach mindfulness in the office. Employers can reduce tardiness, absenteeism, and stress at work by encouraging employees to practice a few basic mindfulness exercises.

Ready to integrate mindfulness at work? Here are a few exercises to get you started.

Be consciously present

At the heart of living a mindful life is being aware of your surroundings and making conscious choices. This is very different from simply going through the motions which ultimately become mundane and create burnout. By living in the moment, aware of your natural settings, you’re better able to appreciate the wonders of life unfolding around you.

Use mindfulness reminders

It’s common to get lost in thought, which is at best, distracting, and at worst, a path of difficult emotion. One simple practice healthy individuals do is to set mindful reminders. This can be a vibrating phone alarm, a pop-up on your digital calendar, hourly mindfulness bells, or some other reminder.

Whatever you use, allow it to shake you out of lost-in-thought mode and get refocused. When you get the reminder, take a deep breath and pay attention to the physical sensation you feel. Use this moment of mindfulness meditation to reset yourself.

One simple practice healthy individuals do is to set mindful reminders. This can be a vibrating phone alarm, a pop-up on your digital calendar, hourly mindfulness bells, or some other reminder.

Accept what you can’t change

The only constant thing in life is change, and unfortunately, there will be things you can’t stop from happening. Rather than stress out about any particular situation, accept it as beyond your control. Try to refocus on things you can change. For situations that cannot be undone, try turning your attention toward finding solutions. Or move on to tackle something else you can have a positive effect on. Accepting what you can’t change rather than dwelling on it frees up energy for where it can have an impact. This is quite liberating and can do wonders for both your physical health and mental health.

Try short mindful exercises

Brief, mindful exercises in your daily routine can help you reduce stress and pay attention to signs that trigger negativity. 

  • Take a couple of minutes to connect with one of your senses.
  • When emotions are high, pause to take note of your or others’ body language. Mentally check your own body for tension. Change your body language or stance as needed.
  • Do a daily meditation practice for 1-5 minutes.
  • Sit up straight with feet flat on ground, balance hands, and eyes closed. Focus on breathing in and out for 1 minute.
  • Practice “box breathing” whenever you’re waiting on hold, for an elevator, at a traffic light, or anywhere else.
  • Before walking through a door, pause for a moment. Take a breath. Notice any differences on the other side of the door.
  • Focus on feeling gratitude and appreciation of life for short intervals during the day.

Additionally, consider an app offering ideas for quick mindfulness exercises to help you to connect with your body sensations.

Mindfulness yields great benefits

Mindfulness is great attention training. From a work perspective, practicing mindfulness helps boost productivity as you pay undivided attention to individual tasks. Moreover, as more people in the workplace approach situations with true mindfulness, this leads to stronger work cultures.

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