Do you often go on auto-pilot mode during the workday? You might not think about it much, but being aware of your actions, and those of the people around you, can improve both your personal and professional life. This is why you need to learn how to be more mindful at work.
Imagine on a Monday morning, and you couldn’t even remember what happened on your morning commute.
In fact, you’re not even aware of how you reached your office at all.
Research has indicated that people’s minds tend to wander almost half of the time.
Some might not think too badly of going on auto-pilot, especially since it helps makes even the worst days at work seem to go by quicker.
Many people are not living in the present, mainly due to their different distractions in life.
Most workers’ minds wander is so they can escape their negative situations or the drudgery of the task at hand.
Being Mindful At Work
Mindfulness entails that you are always living in the present.
If you take some time to learn how to be more mindful, you will find just how much your life will change for the better.
What’s more, being mindful will guide your interactions with your colleagues and will help you understand other people.
Many companies these days are teaching their employees about the merits of being mindful at work.
Being aware of your surroundings will make you more resilient against stress and even more productive.
The longer you practice mindfulness at work, the stronger and more flexible you are when dealing with common stress-inducing situations that you used to dread.
Practicing Mindfulness at Work
Practicing mindfulness at work not only benefits the employee but the employer as well.
Mindfulness helps reduce the amount of stress that the worker feels.
This means that the employer will be dealing with fewer stress-related costs, like fewer sick days, not having to pay for workman’s compensation and the like.
According to a research done by the University of Miami associate psychology professor Amishi Jha, as the physical body benefits from regular exercise, the mind also benefits from regular mental exercises and mindfulness training.
This is the reason why more companies than ever are now providing free mindfulness training seminars to all their employees.
If you are fortunate enough to work for a company that provides mindfulness training, it will be in your best interest to avail of it so you can experience its benefits as soon as possible.
For you to learn how to practice mindfulness at work, here are some helpful tips:
1. Make a Conscious Attempt to be at the Present
Above all else, mindfulness is about being aware rather than letting your mind go on auto-pilot.
When you are consciously in the moment while you are at work, you are aware of two things: the things that are going on around you, and the things going on inside of you.
When you’re practicing mindfulness you’re conscious about what you are doing, while you’re doing it, and at the same time, you are also managing your state of mind.
For instance, if you are working on a report, and you are mindful about everything that you are doing, you are giving the task your full attention.
Whenever you notice your mind is starting to wander to other unrelated thoughts, like the latest office gossip, or your boss’s ugly tie, you can bring yourself back to the present by acknowledging those distracting thoughts in your head, and then continue working on your report.
You are basically stopping your distracting thoughts in their tracks.
To help make it easier for you to learn how to practice mindfulness at work, you should make a clear and concise decision before you start working in the morning to be present as much as you can.
Take a couple of minutes every morning to set this thought into your mind before you start working.
2. Do a Couple of Short Mindfulness Exercises at Work
Just as the name suggests, mindful exercises help you strengthen your mindfulness.
The more you exercise, the easier it will be for your brain to get into a mindful state.
You are basically optimizing your brain for mindfulness.
If your work keeps you so busy that you cannot find time for a mindful exercise session that does not mean you cannot practice mindfulness at all.
There is no set time for mindful exercises; they can be as short or as long as you want them to be.
Even a minute of consciously reconnecting with your senses every hour or so is one of the best mindfulness exercises at work.
There is no need to close your eyes, in fact, you do not even need to sit down.
Creativity is also key when finding time to practice mindfulness; you can do it while you’re walking, you can do it one sense at a time.
You’ll find that knowing how to do short mindful exercises will be a lifesaver during those stressful days at work.
This will allow you to re-balance your nervous system, calm down your flight-or-fight response, and give the wise part of your brain to engage so you can make more sound decisions rather than make knee-jerk reactions.
3. Use Mindfulness Reminders
Being mindful means to remember where you are.
Most of those who have had mindfulness training know and appreciate the benefits of being mindful.
However, they also seem to forget to be more mindful.
People tend to forget to be mindful because the human brain default mode gets lost in its own thoughts.
For instance, if you are doing your normal day-to-day activities, your brain goes into a sort of “low power” mode, allowing your body to act almost on its own without you consciously thinking about it.
Doing things automatically is fine (just imagine what your life would be like if you have to remind yourself to breathe every second or so), but wasting more than half of your time each day lost in thought is not.
To get your head out of the clouds and back into the present, you can use regular reminders or alarms.
For instance, you can set regular alarms on your smartphone.
Even a short vibrating alarm every hour or so will be effective.
Every time your smartphone vibrates, take a minute to be more mindful of your surroundings and your state of mind.
You can also set your digital wristwatch to beep once every hour.
You can also attach mindful exercises to regular occurrences at work, like whenever you hear the paging system go off, or every time you see the mail cart go by your desk.
Whenever you get these reminders, remember to step back a little, and reflect on the things happening around you so you do not automatically react to every situation.
4. Take Things Slowly
For people who don’t understand it, mindfulness at work seems counter-intuitive, and if you think about it, it surely is.
Think about it, you are stopping, or at the very least slowing down your pace when you practice mindfulness, and yet it makes you more efficient, productive, resilient against stress, healthy, and happy at work.
To paint a clearer picture on why mindfulness works, imagine what would happen to you if you were to stop sleeping for a week.
Instead of sleeping, you continued working.
This seems like an efficient way to get things done, but the human body needs rest to function properly.
One or two days into your week without sleep and you’ll most likely experience your productivity drop to almost zero.
Due to your lack of sleep, you will be living out of the present.
When you do mindfulness meditation at work, you are giving your brain a short reprieve from its job.
This brief period of rest helps your brain to regain its bearings and re-focus you more on your tasks.
The real counter-intuitive behavior at work is being in an almost constant state of panic.
Riding the surge that comes with panicking wastes energy because you’ll spend a lot of time correcting your mistakes.
Instead of rushing through tasks, pause for a while, focus on listening and take your time working on your tasks.
Working at a relatively easy pace allows your brain to make the best decisions.
5. Stress is Your Friend
A study conducted by researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that one’s perception of stress affects the health.
The researchers found that people who admit that they are under a lot of stress daily, but they also believe that stress is actually beneficial, were healthier compared to people who believe that their stress is making them sick.
You are basically extending your life
This means that you need to make stress your friend in order to make yourself more efficient at work.
You need to change how you perceive stress so you can benefit from it.
Here is one way that you can utilize stress to your advantage.
The next time you feel challenged at work, take notice of how your heart rate speeds up and your breathing becomes faster and shallow.
Instead of panicking, be thankful that your stress is giving you a boost of energy.
Perceive stress as your body readying itself to face tough challenges ahead; your faster heart rate is a sign that your blood is carrying a lot more oxygen than it used to.
When you see stress as helpful, you can meet all the problems that you encounter as challenges, not obstructions.
This small change in perception won’t only make you efficient at your job but also add years to your life.
6. Be Grateful
People are likely to focus on the things that have gone wrong rather than on those that have gone right.
If you behave this way, you are more likely to adopt an unbalanced way of thinking, one that is excessively more negative than positive.
To remedy this problem, you need to learn to be more grateful.
Practicing gratitude will actually make you feel better and makes you more creative and healthier.
Gratitude also makes you foster healthier work and personal relationships and improves your overall quality of work.
When you are grateful, you will find that being at work is a positive experience.
Here’s One Way You can Practice Gratitude in The Workplace.
If you are stuck in a job that you do not particularly enjoy, you need to be more grateful.
Find the things that are going well in your work.
Your salary might not be as big as you wanted it to be, but at least you are getting a regular paycheck, there are lots of unemployed people who would be more than happy to receive as much money as you do.
You do not like your office manager?
Think of the close friends that you have in the office.
Are you sick of the office politics?
These helpful insights will assist you to know what to look out for when you are job hunting again
After practicing gratitude, and you’re still not convinced to stay, then you really need to find other means of employment.
Another benefit of being mindful at work of the things that you can be grateful for will make you more resilient against the usual things that used to cause you stress.
When you are grateful, you are not allowing your mind to fall into a downward spiral that could result in low moods.
On the other hand, if you do decide to search for another job, being mindful will put you into a positive state of mind, which will then help you choose the right position to apply for, and you will also compose yourself better during the interview.
Remember, companies easily hire people who are positive, not those who only see the negative things and complain.
You can use mindful gratitude to eliminate your brain’s negative bias.
7. Accept the Things That You Cannot Change
At the heart of mindfulness is acceptance; being mindful means you accept the present as it is.
However, acceptance doesn’t mean you gave up but acknowledging how things are before you try to change them.
For instance, your project at work went $30,000 over your initial budget.
That is a fact; it already happened.
You need to accept that your plan didn’t go well and then take the necessary steps to rectify the situation.
If you did not accept the fact, avoid taking responsibility for the error, or you vent out your anger towards other people, things will only get worse for you.
Once you accept the present situation, it will be easier for you to ask help from the people who can fix the problem, you will learn from your mistake, and you can move on with the rest of your day.
You can really benefit a lot from practicing mindfulness at work.
Not only will you become a more productive version of yourself, but you’ll also be a lot healthier than ever.
Mindfulness will not change your personality; you will still be the same person you once were, just better and more adjusted.
Practice mindfulness at work.
It will open up an entire world of positive possibilities.
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