Work-related stress and burnout are among the leading causes of poor physical and mental well-being, with many professionals suffering from workplace anxiety as a result. The promising news is that even an attempt to practice daily mindfulness will aide in creating habits to leave work at work, deal with stress, and remain alert.
Use Daily Mindfulness Exercises
During a busy workday, finding time to practice extended mindfulness exercises can be difficult. Luckily, mindfulness exercises can be short so long as you are consciously connecting with one of your senses. The exercise helps to rebalance your nervous system and engage your brain so that you make thoughtful decisions rather than robotically react to situations. My favorite quick exercise is trying to wiggle one of your middle toes without moving the rest of your toes – which is, of course, impossible, but breaking your train of thought and focusing intently on that middle toe completely re-centers you.
Use Mindfulness Reminders
Your brain is frequently lost in your own thoughts. When you are going about your daily activities on auto-pilot, you are not fully aware of the opportunities and choices that present themselves to you. Try setting an alarm on your phone, setting a “mindful” appointment in your calendar, or associating certain activities with when to be mindful. My favorite reminder is every time my phone rings, rather than checking it, I first take a mindful breath and pause to be aware of my surroundings. This allows you to take a small step back and reflect rather than automatically reacting to the demands, tasks, and challenges constantly coming at you.
Complete One Task at a Time
While multitasking makes people feel more productive, in reality, it is ineffective. The brain cannot multitask and is actually switching from one task to the next, evading productivity in the process. By doing one task at a time, you can focus and practice mindfulness in that task. Switching off as many distractions as possible, i.e. silencing your phone, logging off from an email account you are not actively using, etc., really helps. You can also practice mindfulness between tasks – stretch, take deep breaths, or go for a quick walk!
Rather than focusing and dwelling on something that has gone wrong at work, practicing gratitude makes you feel better and has a positive impact on your creativity, health, working relationships, and quality of work. Being mindful of what is going well at work helps to improve your attitude. The next time you find yourself focusing on aspects of your job you do not like, be mindful of what you are grateful for, perhaps a friendship with a colleague or the satisfaction of completing a difficult project.
To be mindful means to accept the present moment just as it is. When something goes wrong at work, the best course of action is to accept the situation, talk to the necessary people, learn from your mistakes, and move on. Acceptance will actually lead to change; the starting point of personal development and improvement is self-acceptance.
Mindfulness in the workplace will help you better deal with stress and develop the ability to observe negative emotions and appropriately manage them to remain calm, present, self-aware and alert. The ultimate goal is to practice mindfulness in a way that will lessen work-related stress and lead to greater job satisfaction!