Mindfulness in the Workplace

Chances are that you have heard that it is important to practice mindfulness in the workplace. Many large companies, such as Google and General Mills are investing in mindfulness training for their staff. Why? They realize that staff’s attention is constantly being sought for, whether it is Facebook, email, family issues, juggling schedules, or even work. It is often hard to simply focus on the task at hand. When we practice mindfulness, studies show an increase in cognitive functioning and less stress.

The good news is that you don’t necessarily need a big training or investment to get started; you just need a few simple tips:

  • Allow yourself a 3 Minute Breathing Space. Google it – there are numerous audio guides and YouTube videos to walk you through. Carve out 3 minutes several times a day to simply close your eyes and focus on your breath. Notice how it feels, notice how it sounds. Can you slow it down? Count how long each inhale and exhale takes. Do you feel awkward doing this at work? Then do it in your car before you enter the workplace. Do it on your lunch break. Set a timer on your phone. Just take the time and you will notice a difference.
  • Don’t Multitask. Once seen as a resume worthy skill, we now realize that true multi-tasking often leads to more mistakes and less creativity. We are actually less efficient when we multi-task. Focus on what you are working on. When you feel distracted by someone else’s conversation, an email, the smell of someone’s lunch, simply notice it and how it is making you feel. Are your shoulders getting tight, are your eyebrows knitting, feeling tense? Release it. Before you start working, make the choice to focus and be aware of that choice.
  • Practice Gratitude. Human nature wants to dwell on what is going wrong. We are anticipating things not working out. Stop. Focus on what is going well. Which co-workers do you enjoy? Maybe you like receiving a paycheck? It can give you a more realistic picture of what you want out of a job and what that position brings to you. Practicing gratitude makes you more appreciative of what you do have and can impact the quality of your work.
  • Accept what you cannot control. We can’t control others’ behavior, our work environment, assigned tasks, etc. Sometimes, we may have even done something to create an unpleasant feeling, such as missing an important scheduled appointment. The best that you can do is accept what happened and move on. We can never go back in time, we can only handle how we react to the present and our plan to move forward. When we accept things, we can significantly lower our stress and anxiety.