Use mindfulness at work techniques to increase your productivity, get on better with colleagues, and enjoy your job.
In 2015/16, a shocking 45 percent of all sick days taken in the UK were attributed to stress, according to the Health & Safety Executive, with tight deadlines, workload pressures, and too much responsibility being the main culprits.
Of course, some people thrive on pressure, and while you may think people are either naturally resilient or not, surprisingly perhaps, resilience is a skill you can learn.
On the other hand, if a problem at work does arise, and you’re in a relaxed, mindful state of being, your creativity has free rein to come up with an often unusual or overlooked solution to the problem.
The result? You end up enjoying your job far more. Read on to learn how to feel more comfortable and confident at work.
How to practice mindfulness at work
Mindfulness at work techniques can go a long way to helping you manage work-related stress better, improve your communication skills, increase productivity and, most importantly, be more compassionate towards yourself, teaching you to accept what you can’t change about a situation.
Sometimes, for instance, acceptance is all it takes for you to realize that a role is not for you and that it’s time to move on.
It`s good to Talk
One of the key ways to benefit from mindfulness at work is through clearer communication. We’ve looked at communication skills in greater depth in mindfulness for relationships, but in a professional context, the boundaries are different.
When you’re multi-tasking, working to tight deadlines or have several people making demands at the same time, it’s easy to be distracted and only take in part of what is being said to you.
When the pressure’s on, all too often we give an answer or opinion before we’ve fully absorbed the content or context of the discussion.
Being present in a calm and centered manner means you can get to the essence of issues more swiftly, and reply in a more measured and complete way. To bring more mindfulness to your communication at work, follow these three steps:
1) LISTEN- Use centering skills (breathing into your belly, connecting to the ground beneath you, being aware of physical sensations in your body) to listen fully to what is being said.
Allow the other person to finish what they’re saying before you reply and, if needed, check that you have understood them correctly.
For example- ‘So, as I understand it, you’d like me to… Is that right?’ Again, be as centered as you can as you give your answer.
2) CLARIFY- If there is a difference of opinion, acknowledge the issues that you agree on to create a common ground and sense of teamwork before going on to tackle any areas of difference.
3) COLLABORATE- Work as equals to find a mutually agreeable solution or compromise, listening fully, and exploring all potential avenues.
Being as mindfulness at work as you are able to be in the situation will help your creativity! Alternatively, you may have to respectfully accept that you disagree.
JUST A MINUTE
Whenever your work piles up and you feel the tension rising, take a moment to reconnect to a mindful state of being. First, connect to your breath.
Take three deep, slow breaths, breathing right down to your abdomen, feel your weight sinking downwards as you do. Then take your awareness to your sitting bones (if you’re seated), your legs, and the floor.
Finally, notice your thoughts. Without trying to change anything, simply observe them, accept them, and let them go. When you feel ready, continue with your day.
You may decide there’s something you want to change. If so, follow what your new, mindful connection is saying that you need to do.
Scan your self-body 101-
Few of us have the luxury of being able to do a body scan during the working day, so this quick body check is a useful tool for helping you identify areas of tension in your body.
It only takes three to five minutes so you can do it at your desk, but if you can find a completely quiet area where you won’t be disturbed, even better (perhaps you can book a meeting room for 15 minutes?).
Mentally divide your body into three areas- your pelvis, legs, and feet; your chest and arms; your shoulders neck, head, and face, then take your attention to each of them in turn, in the order listed, starting with your feet and traveling up your body.
Become aware of any sensations you feel such as heat, cold, constriction, palpitations, tingling, and numbness. Once you’ve registered the sensation, let it go on an out-breath and move on to the next area.
Stay still for a few moments breathing into your belly to finish. Notice what you are feeling now.
Come Back to yourself-
Research by Harvard University shows up to 47 percent of your day can be lost in mind-wandering! Remind yourself to return to a more mindful state of being with a Tibetan bell alarm on your mobile, and inspiring screensaver, a small post-it note with the word ‘Breath’, or an inspiring object on your desk.
I have a tiny bronze statue of Ganesh, the Indian God known as the ‘remover of obstacles’, but you can use whatever works for you – no one needs to know its purpose, as long as it serves to remind you to tune back into yourself.
You could also use certain activities to remind you to check-in with yourself, such as every time you take a sip of water, or when you begin a new task.
Have a Break-
Whether you’ve got too much to do or you’ve already done too much, when you are mentally stressed or exhausted, your work suffers. Known as the Yerkes-Dodson curve, your quality of performance rises and falls in relation to your level of alertness.
There’s a period after your optimal level of mental activity and quality of work performance called the zone of delusion. Here, stress and anxiety have kicked in, but you still think you’re achieving your goals. But mistakes, poor quality of work, and a wandering mind mean time spent in this zone is unproductive.
The good news is that the sooner you realize this, the quicker you’ll refresh your mind and return to peak productivity. As soon as you notice you’re in the zone, do mindfulness at work exercise to check what you need to do next.
Connect with your breath- observe your thoughts and tune into your body, then ask yourself what you need to do such as eating food, getting fresh air, or talking to a colleague.
Research shows that Neurohormone dopamine causes ‘seeking behavior’ – not just for the basic need for food, shelter, or warmth, but for information also. When your need is met, by eating a meal, for example, your brain produces those feel-good opioids such as endorphins.
When it comes to technology, if you’re feeling low, the ping of a text, email, or twitter feed will trigger dopamine release, so checking your computer/mobile feels imperative.
And the shorter/more incomplete the message, the greater the dopamine release, and the more compelled you feel to check for the latest update. Constant distraction from the task at hand is draining and compromises your focus.
To stay productive and on task, turn the sound cues off your devices, and timetable when you’ll check emails/messages and twitter feeds.
Do you feel your stress levels rise the minute your office phone rings? Or perhaps you leave it for the answering machine, all the while hoping it’s not important?
In his book Peace is Every Step (Rider, £9.99), Thich Naht Hahn suggests waiting for three rings before answering any phone. If it’s urgent the caller will wait that long to speak to you or leave a message.
And it means you can take three deep breaths to create space, not only to choose whether you want to take the call, but also to let go of what you’ve been doing and center yourself in this new moment, so you can be fully present when you speak to the caller.
Suspend Your Judgement
Being contradicted or having someone disagree with your point of view can be challenging and when it happens in a big meeting with your entire team and line managers present, it’s even tougher.
Perhaps you go on the defensive and argue your case even more strongly, or perhaps you retreat into yourself, feeling a sense of shame or humiliation?
Next time someone disagrees with you, use it as an opportunity to practice mindful breathing and see if you can allow yourself to listen deeply to what your colleague is saying. Be curious, as if you were an impartial observer.
- Is she really saying her opinion is right and yours is wrong?
- Are there valuable elements to both points of view?
Keep breathing into your belly as you listen, and use your sense of touch to stay grounded by feeling the seat of your chair and the floor beneath your feet.
With practice and mindfulness at work self-acceptance there will come a time when, even if your colleague’s opinion is ‘better’ than yours, it will make no difference to your sense of self-worth.
Gratitude diaries have become a hot trend in recent years, but don’t just write down what you appreciate at the end of the day, tell co-workers how much you value their input.
Being grateful and showing your appreciation for any help you receive benefits to both parties. Not only will they feel valued, in giving yourself a voice and making your feelings known, you are also increasing your sense of presence in the workplace.
COMMUTING- Almost four million Brits spend two hours a day traveling to work, with the average being almost an hour. Add to these accidents and canceled trains, and it’s no surprise journeys can leave you feeling unmindful.
Here are our tips for taking the stress out of your commute.
ACCEPT YOUR LOT- The fact that your travel time is unpredictable is a big stress. The best way to manage the dis-ease is to accept there’s nothing you can do to change it.
Practice the mindfulness at work techniques in this book to minimize the stress and use the time to learn that language you’ve always wanted to speak or finish that report for your boss.
PRACTICE KINDNESS- Have mindful connections with your fellow travelers. Notice the difference to your mood and energy if you let a cargo in front of you or offer your seat to someone.
It will lift your mood, as your brain produces more endogenous opioids, which elevate levels of dopamine, so giving you a natural high.
FOCUS Attention- on something other than the slowness of the journey. Notice other people’s faces in the train. Observe your thoughts and feelings without judging them.
Simply let them register then let them go, and notice the difference this has on your experience of the journey.
Here are some Journal Articles for you
If you’re interested in learning more about mindfulness from an academic standpoint, there are a few key journal articles to put on your reading list:
- how to be mindful and 4 mindfulness at worksheets
- 10 amazing life changer mindfulness quotes
- How to get started a walking meditation
- 10 amazing health benefits of mindfulness and easy meditation technique
- 5 easy way of Loving Kindness Meditation technique and benefit
- 101 way of Start a mindful breathing well
- 7 ways of mindfulness body scan meditation exercise: benefit
- Walking meditations: with peace is every step
- What is mindful eating: techniques, benefit, exercise
11 mindfulness books on Amazon a definitely worth a read-
- Mindfulness at Work: How to Avoid Stress, Achieve More, and Enjoy Life:–Amazon
- Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World– Amazon
- Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Awakening-Amazon
- Meditation for the Love of It: Enjoying Your Own Deepest Experience-Amazon
- 30-Minute Anxiety Meditation-Amazon
- Chakra Healing: A Beginner’s Guide to Self-Healing Techniques that Balance the Chakras-Amazon
- The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living-Amazon
- Meditation: 4 Books in 1-Chakra and Reiki Healing for Beginners,-Amazon
- Practical Meditation for Beginners: 10 Days to a Happier, Calmer You-Amazon
- Mindfulness Therapy Games: Social Skills Game That Teaches Mindfulness for Kids,-Amazon
- Mindfulness At Work Essentials For Dummies-Amazon