More than ever, we need mindfulness. In the midst of a global pandemic, we are also navigating the very real emotions and realities in our daily lives. Anxiety around health, money, going back to work, homeschooling, the list is endless in normal times, and this year, your plate is undoubtably full. Thankfully though, being aware of our emotional state can help us traverse these difficult situations. Try incorporating these tips into your daily routine to practice mindfulness in the office (and home office). Even a moment of mindfulness can make a difference.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness, in practical terms, is the ability to be fully present; to be cognizant and connected to what you are feeling and experiencing in that precise moment. Without judgement or the need to find an immediate solution, mindfulness is most simply, teaching yourself how to be aware.
Mindfulness can increase our focus, empathy, and productivity. It can also help reduce stress and anxiety. So why don’t more of us make this a part of our daily routine, especially at work?
Often mindfulness is associated with meditation, yoga, or other specific practices. But there are a number of easy ways you can bring mindfulness to your everyday work, whether you are in the office or your home office.
Start Meetings with Mindfulness
Starting meetings with a mindfulness focus can range from a group guided meditation, a few quiet minutes for each person to set their own intentions and become aware of their individual emotional state, to simply asking your team how they are feeling today. By taking a few minutes at the start of a new activity, project or meeting to reconnect with your body, mind and emotions, you not only increase your focus on the work at hand but also separate from the work you have just finished.
Change Your Environment
At home and at the office we are often tethered to our phone, computer screen, or conference room. If you have calls during the day that do not require a screen, consider changing your environment. Taking a walk around the block to get some activity while multitasking, sitting outside in a quiet spot, or even some light stretching is a great way to connect with your body and reset your energy while still working.
Create a Dedicated Mindfulness Space
A mindfulness room or space is a dedicated area to take a quiet moment away from everyday stressors, practice mediation, or simply rest and be still before returning to your work. Many companies are integrating mindfulness rooms into their new office layouts, but even from your home office, designating a quiet, calm space away from your computer and phone can be equally as effective.
Depending how much you want to re-envision your space there are a range of ways, you can create a recharge room in your office or home. Here are a few suggestions for things to include:
- Comfortable chairs or a sofa
- Soft throw blankets or throw pillows
- A white noise machine or nature sounds machine to help quiet outside distractions
- Soft lighting from a table or floor lamp, try to avoid overhead lighting if possible. You could also install a dimmer switch for overhead lights
- Healthy snacks and drinks
- Yoga mats
- Curtains if the room has windows to the outside office or other parts of your home
- Greenery and plants
- Aromatherapy diffusor
A popular and straightforward mindfulness exercise to practice when you are feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, or recognize that you need to reset, is S.T.O.P.
Stop what you are doing, whatever it is, and pause. Take a breath and try to focus on your breathing. Observe what you are feeling, without judgement or needing to solve anything in that moment. Proceed, having checked in with your body, mind, surroundings, and situation, to what you were doing.
This is an easy practice you can do as needed throughout your day. For particularly stressful experiences, you can extend this into a brief 5-minute meditation, or longer if you need. And don’t worry, if you’re not sure what to do, there are numerous resources on YouTube and apps like Calm that provide guided meditations of varying lengths to get you started.
Integrating a mindfulness practice into daily life may be just what we all need right now. 2020 has been brought unexpected and very real challenges for many of us. Mindfulness can be a tool in your arsenal to help you deal with the day to day, while increasing your focus, productivity, and satisfaction with the work at hand. Remember, that like any valuable skill, mindfulness is, and takes, practice. Try incorporating the above tips into your daily routine to get you started. Even a moment of mindfulness can make a difference.