Good news, first. We’re living for longer. The downside? We’re going to spend more years at work, too. No wonder that many of us are thinking about how to stay healthier for longer. Whether it’s combatting the effects of too much sitting or dealing with stress, workplace wellbeing is here to stay. Slowing down and practicing Mindfulness at work can increase productivity, focus and overall happiness in the workplace. For example, chronic multitaskers have increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol. This can damage memory and reduce cognition. But caught in the whirlwind of email, meetings and demands, it can feel difficult to justify setting time aside. Or maybe it’s just the thought of the boss coming round while you’ve got your eyes closed.
Businesses are also waking up to the benefits of wellbeing programmes, such as a boost in employee engagement. Mental health issues account for 70 million sick days in the UK per year, so there is a need for improvement. All very well and good, but how can it work in practice?
Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Here are 10 easy tips for practicing mindfulness at work – and you don’t even have to close your eyes.
1 – Start your day right
Even a short commute offers chances to get mindful. Sitting on the train? Take a few minutes to listen to a guided meditation. (Just be careful not to miss your stop.) Even if you’re stuck with driving, a quiet few minutes while parked can make all the difference.
2 – Single-task
Being completely present is easier if you’re only doing one thing. One of the benefits of mindfulness is that it helps to build concentration. So try to eliminate distractions and focus your mind on one task at a time.
3 – No more eating al desco
Even if you only have a few minutes, try to get away from your desk. Put the screens away. Chew your food carefully and pay attention to the flavours, textures and temperature. Notice how you’re eating and how satisfied you feel. No wonder the NHS includes mindful eating in its weight loss programmes.
4 – Walk the walk
Mindful walking is a great stress-buster. Even if it’s just ten minutes, it can help you to clear your head. How can you start? There’s formal meditation, which you can practise. Or you can simply bring more awareness to what your walk.
Turn off the autopilot and notice how you’re breathing – the speed, the depth, the sensations. How does your body feel as you plant each foot and how does your clothing feel on your skin? What are the sounds, smells and colours around you?
5 – Before presentations
Feeling nervous before a big presentation? Give yourself a moment to warm up. Find a quiet corner and take some mindful breaths before you step into the room. Be aware of your feelings, but focus on your body and your breath.
6 – Think gratitude
Are your colleagues/clients/suppliers (delete as appropriate) are driving you a little mad? Try to make time to think of things you’re grateful for. The new perspective can help you to regain control of your feelings.
7 – Keep a reminder
When things get stressful, it’s easy to lose track of the time. Why not choose a small object to keep with you and anchor your thoughts? Put it in your desk, slip it into your pocket and remind yourself to breathe when you need it most. Our mindfulness stress balls are brilliant for this – and they smell great, too.
8 – Start a group
Mindfulness is more popular than ever. If your colleagues are up for it, why not start a mindfulness group? You won’t need much more than a quiet space and somewhere comfortable to sit.
Our top tip? Avoid sitting opposite each other. There’s nothing more disconcerting than trying to meditate while avoiding eye contact with Steve from Accounts.
9 – Take a moment
You don’t have to close your eyes or assume the lotus position. Whenever you notice that you’re getting a bit tense, take three deep breaths. You can focus on your breath. Or another part of the body. Try wiggling your toes one at a time. It’s surprisingly difficult.
10 – Switch off
“Always on” is killing our concentration. Unless you’re a doctor and on-call, you can turn off your email for 15 minutes (or more) while you get on with your work. And if you’re worried about how this looks, announce it first.
Of course, mindfulness only works if you’re also addressing the underlying issues causing stress in the first place. So if there’s a real problem with workload, make sure you speak to your manager.
So that’s it, ten easy ways to build some mindfulness into your working day. Remember, Mindfulness at work does not have to be time consuming or take your away from important tasks. Simple changes to how you go about your day can make all the difference.