5 Tips for Mindfulness at Work
It’s a busy world here in the twenty-first century. There’s so much to think about, so much to do. And the UK population is suffering: 595,000 cases of work-related stress, anxiety or depression were reported in 2017-18.
Stress and anxiety can negatively drive our emotions and behaviour: it’s easy to become caught up in the day-to-day or worry about what might or might not happen. Mindfulness helps you to connect with the present moment, and to tune in to a bit of much-needed inner peace.
So where should you start? We’ve put together five nuggets of advice on becoming more mindful in the workplace…
Step 1: Improve Your Commute
There are 24 million regular commuters in England and Wales, with each journey lasting for an average of 56 minutes. That journey through rush hour can influence how the rest of your day will pan out. So…
- Detox the digital. Rather than blocking everything out with your headphones, or burying your head in your Kindle, take in your surroundings and be in the moment. Focus on the rhythmic noises of the engine; take in the view outside and connect with the world around you.
- Focus on your breathing. It’ll give you a welcome sense of space on a crowded bus or train.
- There’s a high correlation between non-active commuters and issues with both physical and mental health. So, if you use public transport, try getting off a stop earlier and walking the rest of the way.
Step 2: Be a Single-Tasker
You might think of multi-tasking as a good skill to have, but it’s likely to be affecting your stress levels and productivity. We typically have a million and one browser tabs open, regularly flitting from task to task (on average, we jump from one task to another nearly 300 times per day!).
Not allowing our brains to really focus on a single task has been shown to negatively impact our attention span and ultimately, our memory capacity. As you fall behind in your daily tasks, your stress levels will rise.
Single-tasking using a to-do list is a satisfying and positive way to order your tasks. Work through them, one by one, and don’t succumb to distractions. It sounds weird, but by slowing down you’ll actually get more done.
Step 3: Check Out for Lunch
It’s a busy day, you’ve got several deadlines and no time to stop. So you whip out your lunch and eat at your desk while you work. You may think you’re saving yourself time, but in reality it’s ineffective and, well, bad for you.
We’ve already looked at the importance of single-tasking, and lunch shouldn’t be an exception. Find a nice little spot outside to focus on your food and your surroundings and recharge your batteries for the afternoon.
In 2011, Science Daily reported that taking regular breaks will improve focus for longer periods, so give your eyes a rest from the blue light and your lungs a break from all that recycled office air…
Step 4: Breathe
Deadlines, difficult customers and demanding bosses: it’s a recipe for an anxiety attack.
The more anxious we get, the shallower our breathing becomes. Our instinctive ‘fight or flight’ response means we take short, fast breaths to prepare for danger.
The regular use of breathing techniques helps to oxygenate our bodies, replenishing the brain and vital organs with vital nutrients. Try some as part of your daily routine. This can act as a coping strategy while helping to improve your sense of calm and relaxation:
Step 5: Get a Desk Plant
Don’t cut yourself off from Mother Nature: get yourself a desk plant. There’s something peaceful and calming about nurturing your little green companion, focusing your attention on keeping it happy and healthy. Take five minutes out of your day to water it, dust its leaves and observe new growth.
A 2015 report by Human Spaces showed that having a bit of the outdoors on your desk can:
- increase productivity by 6%
- increase creativity by 15%
- improve wellbeing by 15%
So why not introduce a bit of greenery to your work life? There’s something for everyone… If you’re a bit of a fashionista, pick up a funky pot. Socialite? Give it a name and a Facebook page. Don’t like your colleagues? Get a cactus.
So slow down – try our top five tips and eventually mindfulness will become your best habit. Your stress levels will drop and your productivity will sky-rocket. Trust us.