Even in the best of work environments where you love your job and have the best boss in the world, practicing mindfulness at work is still a game-changer. If you are miserable in your job, it’s that much more. These are 25 ways that you can practice mindfulness at work. Which one/s are you going to implement first?
When I hear the word “Mindfulness” I immediately go to the word “Present.”
And then my mind goes to the famous quote by Bil Keane, “Yesterday’s the past, tomorrow’s the future, but today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present.”
So basically, mindfulness is a gift that you can give to yourself.
Even in the jobs that I loved with the best boss in the world, there were stressful situations or toxic co-workers.
And don’t get me started on the worst work environments. I can easily name three toxic bosses that I’ve worked for. I’m sure there were more, but these three stood out. My first boss was verbally abusive. It was my first job and I was all of 22 years old, so I’m not sure if he was an ogre or I was young and delicate. Regardless, he still sucked. Then there was the crazy one who one of the most brilliant bosses I ever had, but was toxic to everyone. We reconciled years later.
The last environment was the worst, and the one that forced me to resign and start a movement.
But before all of that, my co-workers and I lived 8-9 hours a day in the cesspool. We read a book called Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers and it was about how the zebra was only stressed while the lion was chasing it. After the chase, it went back to being a happy zebra. My co-workers and I aligned and decided to channel our inner zebra. We called ourselves the Zebra Zen Den.
Mindfulness is a gift you give to yourself and guess what – it’s free and only takes a few seconds or minutes. Practicing mindfulness at work isn’t going to change the situation around you, but it will change how you react and respond. Enjoy these 25 mindfulness practices!
25 Ways to Practice Mindfulness at Work
1. Create a morning routine.
Routines are not only comforting, but they also help you to be more productive. You can create a morning routine at home to get you started right from the alarm clock. And then create a morning routine at work to get you started on the right foot.
2. Create an end of day routine.
Same as the morning routine above, create an end of day routine at work and an evening routine at home. This signals to your brain to close it out, shut it down, and move on to the next activity. Plus, if you clean up your desk and write down your tasks for the next day, it will help you to show up the next morning in a happier and more productive environment.
3. Stop and breathe.
There are several different breathing exercises to promote calm. The 4-7-8 breathing method is my favorite. Four-seconds deep breath in, seven-second pause, then eight-second exhale. When you are feeling the stress and the weight of the world on your shoulders, stop and breathe.
4. Start being more aware and present.
Mindfulness = being present. Notice your surroundings. Notice the moods of your co-workers and boss. Notice how YOU are feeling.
5. Make your cuppa more mindful.
We all do it. Guzzling down a gallon of coffee every morning is a ritual. Make it more mindful by enjoying this daily ritual with a friend. Or drink your cuppa joe out of a beautiful mug that inspires you.
6. Don’t multi-task.
Back in the day, multi-tasking was a sign of being the super-person at work. Now, there are more and more studies that show single-tasking is your golden ticket to productivity. Do one task at a time. I also like to batch my work – all of my tasks are scheduled in time blocks so I can give 100% of my focus on that task alone.
7. Turn off all non-emergency notifications on your phone.
You don’t need every single notification going off all day on your phone – especially the ones from social media! Turn off your notifications, and only allow those which are an emergency to come through.
This one is hard. There’s the old Buddhist saying, “Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” It’s especially difficult in the workplace. Your boss favors a less than stellar co-worker over you. Someone else gets the promotion. A co-worker steals your idea and gets the recognition. Forgiveness isn’t about letting that person off the hook, it’s about giving you space and freedom to move on. Betrayal hits to the core, and forgiveness is the key to your escape.
9. Go for a walk.
Get out and exercise if you have the time and capacity at work. But worst case, get up and walk for a few minutes during your break/s. Bonus points if you can walk outside, but worst case, walk around the hallways. Stepping away and clearing your head is a great way to practice mindfulness at work.
10. Repeat a positive affirmation, scripture, or mantra.
My personal “quickie” is from Psalm 46:5, “God is within her, she will not fall.” When the going gets tough, take a minute and repeat your favorite positive affirmation, scripture, or mantra.
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11. Be an active listener.
Guilty as charged! Especially when you’re going a million miles an hour or are in the middle of a deadline, it’s easy to dismiss those around you. When you are speaking with someone, be an active listener. Shut down your own chatter, and actually listen to what they are saying. If you are in the middle of something and can’t listen, kindly and respectfully ask them to have a conversation with you later when you can give them your full attention. (See #15 – boundaries).
12. De-clutter your desk.
Some people say, “Cluttered desk, cluttered mind.” Some say that a cluttered desk is a sign of creativity. Toe-may-toe, toe-mah-toe. A little decluttering will help to give you that space to be more mindful.
13. Practice gratitude.
Gratitude is the most perfect gift that you can give yourself. It’s a mindset and game-changer. Practicing gratitude, especially at work, puts your state of mind on a completely different level and helps you to really be present.
14. Turn the negatives into opportunities.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. You can’t always change your circumstances, but you can change how you react. Practicing gratitude is a game-changer for this one. Instead of wallowing in the boo-hoos of your negative situation, turn it around into an opportunity. One door has closed so that a better opportunity can manifest itself. You may not even know it until a day, week or heck, even 10 years later. But this shift in mindset will help you to understand that everything has its divine timing and purpose.
15. Set boundaries.
It didn’t matter if I was in a private office or in the cube farm, there never seemed to be any boundaries. Everyone was on their own time schedule and felt the need to chat when it worked for them, without any consideration as to what everyone else is doing. If you want to chat with the person who interrupts you, then chat away. If you don’t want to be interrupted, regardless of the reason, simply say, “I’m in the middle of something and really need to focus. Let’s discuss this in an hour.” Put your head down and go right back to work. They will eventually take the hint. Also reference #23 – Balance Your Work-Life Balance.
16. Reschedule your productivity.
I teach a completely different way to be productive by being mindful to your energy cycles throughout the day. It’s pretty revolutionary, especially for those who have a chronic illness or fatigue issues. But it works for everyone!
17. Take a break for lunch.
Get out for lunch when you can. If you have to eat at your desk, focus on eating and not doing work. Also, be mindful about what you eat. is it good fuel or junk fuel?
18. Make conscious choices.
We make a million and three choices every day. The workplace is where many of those million and three choices are made. Even when the decision has to be made quickly, stop, take a breath, think, and then decide. You can still make quick decisions, but try and be more mindful about the process.
19. Change up your seating situation.
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20. Notice one new thing every day.
We get into our shiny metal boxes, drive to work, work all day, then get into the box again and drive home. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Make time to stop and smell the flowers. Make a commitment to notice one new thing every day.
21. Find a mindfulness buddy.
Everything is better with a buddy. Especially mindfulness! Share this article with her and make a list of all of the ways you are going to be mindful at work together. Check-in with each other every day. Having a buddy to practice mindfulness at work will help you stay on track and even be more accountable. You will also learn from each other!
22. Set a mindful reminder.
Once an hour, take one minute and do one of the activities listed here. Be still, breathe, pray, repeat an affirmation, etc. Even during the hustle and bustle of the workday, you can give yourself the gift of one minute an hour. Set a timer on your phone or watch if you need to.
23. Balance your work-life balance.
It’s virtually impossible to turn off your personal life at work, and your work life at home. We are complex beings and our work and our personal lives and families are embedded into the fabric of what makes us who we are. That being said, set the best boundaries that you can. While at work, enjoy your daily check-in with your spouse and minimize all non-emergency personal issues or conversations. If you can, when you are off the clock, don’t answer work emails or phone calls. If it’s required that you are available, try to set boundaries… “I will address any work-related issues from 7:00-7:30 at night” or however those boundaries work best for you.
24. Check your posture.
See #19 above. It’s easy to slump in a standard office chair. Not so much if you are an active participant in the sitting process and more mindful about your posture.
25. Let go of what you can’t change.
It’s called the Serenity Prayer for a reason. “God grant me the SERENITY to accept the things I cannot change, the COURAGE to change the things I can, and the WISDOM to know the difference. Let it go, my friend. Let it go.
I hope these ways to practice mindfulness at work will really help you on your journey of being more present, reducing stress, and even increasing productivity.
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