Mindfulness. Meditation. Calm. I’m guessing they’re not words you usually associate with your normal working day?
When did the work day become so hectic? And when did it become acceptable to take our work home with us?
So how about we turn the tables, and bring mindfulness to work. Let’s look at some ways to use Mindfulness to manage the daily stressors and be more effective at work and enjoy family life.
For many, ‘mindfulness’ is a buzzword associated with adult colouring books. However, Mindfulness is much more than colouring within the lines.
Mindfulness originated from Buddhist traditions and is a technique used to increase awareness of the present moment. Mindfulness pioneer Jon Kabat-Zinn describes mindfulness as the practice of purposefully paying focused attention to experience the present moment.
Mindfulness also emphasises the need to pay attention to thoughts and feelings without judging them.
Mindfulness has countless psychological, physical and social benefits. Research has demonstrated that Mindfulness:
- Helps with focus, improving memory and attention skills
- Reduces stress and negative emotions while increasing positive emotions
- Can enhance relationships and increase compassion and altruism
- Boosts our immune system 
So whether your workday feels like the definition of stress, or you’re looking for ways to stress-down, I think everyone could use a little mindfulness in their day. The following three activities all only take a few minutes or less, and can bring some calm to your work.
Mindfulness at Work Tip #1: The Body Scan
This activity can be done seated, standing up, or lying down:
- Take a few moments to focus on your breath
- Then focus your attention along your body
- Start at your toes and let your awareness move up your body all the way to the top of your head
- Try to be aware and notice what you sense in these body parts
- Accept any feelings or thoughts that arise without trying to control or change them
Tip #2: Sense and Notice
This activity can be done in under a minute, at your desk:
- Close your eyes
- Breathe deeply and slowly
- Note three things that you can hear (e.g., phones, air conditioning, voices)
- Note three things that you can sense (e.g. air moving past my skin, my watch on my wrist, my hair touching my shoulders)
Take your time when sensing and don’t rush to count the different things. When you notice something, focus your awareness on it and then move on to the next thing.
Tip #3: Mindful Eating
You can practice this activity with a tic-tac, sultana or raisin, a piece of chocolate, or another small snack.
- Take your snack in the palm of your hand or hold it between your fingers
- Place the snack in your mouth and eat it as slowly as possible, noticing all your senses. You may like to leave it whole in your mouth for a while before taking a bite
- Notice how it tastes, how it feels in your mouth (is it heavy? Is it sitting to one side?), it’s smell, it’s temperature, it’s texture
- Notice and accept any feelings or thoughts that come to mind
- Finish eating and notice how you feel.
Like any new skill, Mindfulness needs to be practiced. It is ok if you find these activities difficult at first. If you do, notice why they are difficult, accept that feeling, and move on.
By adding a few minutes of mindfulness into your day can take less time than going to get your morning coffee. So put aside some time to practice mindfulness in the workplace and enjoy the rewards.