Experts have long touted the benefits of meditation, from better sleep to less stress to improved overall physical health.
But meditation is also a tool you can use to dramatically change your workday for the better.
With never-ending to-do lists, meetings, and projects, many of us become easily wrapped up in anxious energy over future events or outcomes.
Because mindfulness connects you with the present moment, a lack of mindfulness can cause you to lose focus. Lose enough focus, and you stand to get thrown off track from your long-term goals.
Here, we’re sharing seven activities you can practice infusing more mindfulness in your workday so you can stay productive and successful at work.
1. Take Designated “Mindfulness Breaks”
By taking mindfulness breaks at work, you can boost your motivation and keep yourself in a positive headspace on the job. Step away from your computer and make a cup of tea or glass of lemon water or check in on someone you care about. Each time you do something relaxing, the break helps you refocus and enjoy your work.
Set an alarm to gently remind yourself to get up from your desk and do something active for at least a few minutes every few hours. 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 and, therefore, the less productive you’ll become. Evidence also shows that sitting for too long increases your risk of blood clots and is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, so step out for a few minutes. Once you’ve tuned in to what’s happening outside your workspace, you’ll return to work refreshed and reinvigorated.
2. 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 your body set your biological clock for better brain function and health. To improve your health, you may want to develop a natural routine based on your circadian rhythm.
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 your mental performance. So, open the blinds or curtains while you work. Make it a point to stop every so often to look out the window and mindfully engage with what’s happening outside.
3. Listen to Relaxing Music
Listening to relaxing music while you work helps reduce stress and can make you more productive. Playing gentle nature sounds, such as birds singing or rainfall, can be as effective as instrumental music at helping you work and enter a “flow state” that enhances your performance. Avoid playing music with lyrics in case it distracts you.
4. Cut Back on Caffeine
Many people drink coffee or other caffeinated drinks while working, but this can backfire as caffeine has been shown to increase anxiety. Additionally, the alertness and jitters you may experience after drinking caffeine can affect your level of mindfulness. While consuming a modest amount of caffeine (which translates to four cups of coffee a day at most, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration) may help you focus, overdoing it can have the opposite effect. Limit your intake of caffeinated drinks and avoid it altogether if you’re someone who gets easily distracted while you work. Instead, substitute your cup of coffee for decaffeinated tea, lemon water, or an organic juice. Adding some fresh ginger to your smoothie can also give you a good jolt of energy!
5. Take a Walk Outside on Your Lunch Break
Mindfulness is about bringing awareness to what’s happening around you. Taking a 15-minute walk outdoors is a wonderful 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. You don’t just have to eat on your lunch break; nourish your body and mind by eating lunch outside and engaging with nature.
6. Bring Nature into Your Workspace
If you can’t go outside to enjoy nature mindfully, bring the outdoors in. Fill your office or workspace with houseplants or fresh flowers and bask in their beauty. They don’t just look good — plants can boost your mental and physical well-being by reducing stress, improving focus and creativity, and increasing energy.
Familiar scents, such as lavender, can help you relax and a pot of lavender in your work area could have a similar effect.
7. Express Gratitude
Every day is a gift, and there is so much wonder in this beautiful world in which we live. Research has shown practicing gratitude results in psychological benefits that can improve your mental health.
When you’re in a state of gratitude, you pay more attention to what’s happening around you, including what’s happening with your fellow human beings. Find ways to express gratitude by regularly thanking those who are helpful to you, jotting down what you’re thankful for, or mentally listing a few things you’re grateful for before you get out of bed each morning.
The Bottom Line
Practicing mindfulness throughout your day will help you improve your productivity and positivity at work.
Mindfulness means so much more than just sitting quietly for a few minutes and breathing slowly. There are many activities you can do during your mindfulness practice to refocus on present experiences. Personal awareness is an important quality in both our professional and personal lives. Set a goal to live and work more mindfully and with more personal awareness and see how it positively impacts your life.
Now that you’re familiar with how to practice mindfulness, don’t stop here. Continue your journey to self-improvement by working with an Arootah Coach. Our coaches empower you to develop clarity around your goals, create a strategy to achieve them, and hold you accountable to completing them so you can live your best, most fulfilling life.
What activities will you try today to practice mindfulness during your workday? What activities have worked for you previously? Let us know in the comments below!