Mindfulness can ease your stressful workday because being mindful connects you with the present moment. With never ending to-do lists, meetings, and projects, you might find yourself anxious about past events or future possibilities. Lack of mindfulness means you lose your current focus, which gets you off track towards your long-term goals. Mindfulness can improve your concentration, reduce stress, and make you more productive at work. Mindfulness improves your physical health, as reducing stress slows your heart rate, lowers blood pressure, and eases your brain and digestive tract functions. Whether you work from home or the office, practicing mindfulness throughout the workday will help you be a more productive and successful employee.
Below are 7 activities you can try today to establish mindfulness in your workday and get you back on track.
- Take mindfulness breaks
Taking mindfulness breaks while at work can boost your motivation and help you stay in a positive energy flow on the job. Step away from your computer and get a cup of tea, fresh glass of lemon water, or check in on someone in your personal life. When you do something relaxing, the break will help you regain your focus and enjoy your work.
Set the alarm to gently remind yourself to get up from your desk and do something active for at least a few minutes. Go for a walk around the office, stretch, or get outside and take some deep breaths. The longer you sit in one place without a break, the more tired you will become and, therefore, less productive. Also, there is evidence that sitting too long increases the risk of blood clots and is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Step out for a few minutes and tune in to what’s happening outside your office or workspace. You will return refreshed and reinvigorated.
- Open the blinds
When you sit in a room with insufficient light, your brain function and mood suffer. Light exposure early in the day helps set your internal biological clock for better brain function and health. You want to encourage your circadian rhythm to follow a natural routine.
Natural light also has an activating effect on your central nervous system, which helps spark creativity and enhance productivity. Like other exercises that promote focus, allowing sunlight to flood into a room during the day can improve mental performance. So, open the blinds or curtains while you work. Stop at intervals to look out the window and mindfully engage with what is happening outside.
- Listen to relaxing music in the background
Listening to relaxing music while you work helps reduce stress and can make you more productive. Gentle nature sounds playing in the background such as birds singing or the sound of rain falling can be as effective as instrumental music and help create a “flow state” that will enhance your performance. Avoid playing music with lyrics since that creates a mental distraction.
- Cut back on the caffeine
Many people drink coffee or other caffeinated drinks while they work, but this can backfire by increasing anxiety. Plus, the alertness and jitters that caffeine creates can affect mindfulness. Consuming modest quantities of caffeine may help you focus, but overdoing it has the opposite effect. Limit your intake of caffeinated drinks to one cup per day if possible and avoid it altogether if you are someone who gets easily distracted while they work. Substitute your cup of coffee for decaffeinated tea, lemon water, or a juice. Adding fresh ginger to your smoothie can also give you a jilt!
- Take a walk outdoors for lunch
Mindfulness is about bringing awareness to what’s happening around you. Taking a 15-minute walk outdoors is a great way to clear your mind, reduce stress and anxiety, and get some exercise and fresh air. Plus, it allows you to connect with your surroundings. A lunch break is beneficial for more than just eating. It can be an opportunity to rest your mind by getting out of the office and engaging with nature.
- Bring nature into your workplace
If you can’t get outside to enjoy nature mindfully, bring the outdoors in. Fill your office or work area with plants or flowers. When you look around your office, bask in their beauty. Familiar scents like lavender can also be relaxing and bringing a pot of lavender into the office could have a similar effect. There are many benefits of bringing nature indoors, including reducing stress, improving focus and creativity, and increasing energy.
- Express gratitude
Every day is a gift, and there is so much wonder in the world. When you are in a state of gratitude, you pay more attention to what is happening around you, including fellow human beings. Find ways to express gratitude by regularly thanking those who are helpful to you. Connect with people who you admire or find inspiring. There is no better way to be mindful than connecting with someone who has moved you in some way. Expressing gratitude helps ease stress as well.
The bottom line
Whether you work from home or the office, practicing mindfulness throughout the workday will help you be a more productive and successful employee. Mindfulness is so much more than just sitting quietly for a few minutes and breathing slowly. There are many activities you can do to regain your focus. Personal awareness is an important quality that you can apply to your work and home life. Set a goal to live and work more mindfully and see how it positively impacts your life.
What activities will you try today to establish mindfulness in your workday? What has worked for you previously? Let us know in the comments below!
Díaz-Silveira C, Alcover CM, Burgos F, Marcos A, Santed MA. Mindfulness versus Physical Exercise: Effects of Two Recovery Strategies on Mental Health, Stress and Immunoglobulin A during Lunch Breaks. A Randomized Controlled Trial. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Apr 20;17(8):2839. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17082839. PMID: 32326082; PMCID: PMC7215846.
“Mindfulness versus Physical Exercise: Effects of Two ….” pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32326082/.
“Mindfulness for Better Living Lunch and Learns ….” 13 Jan. 2021, canr.msu.edu/events/mindfulness-for-better-living-lunch-and-learns.
“6 Ways to Practice Mindful Eating – Mindful.” 17 Jan. 2019, .mindful.org/6-ways-practice-mindful-eating/.