14 Ways To Be More Mindful At Work
Mindfulness can lead to less stress, better job performance, and improved relationships. Here are 14 ways to become more mindful at work.
- 57% of Americans reported feeling stressed at work on a daily basis in 2021.
- Practicing mindfulness at work will help you deal with the stress, improve your focus, and strengthen your relationships with your colleagues.
- In the following article, you will find 14 ways to become more mindful at work.
According to a 2021 report by Gallup, 57% of Americans experience daily stress at their workplaces. While a certain level of stress is considered normal, feeling stressed out at work on a daily basis can lead to a decline in your job performance and the quality of your relationships with coworkers. Constant workplace stress can ultimately even start affecting your physical health.
You might be surprised to hear that you do not necessarily need to make massive adjustments to handle job-related stress. In fact, you can boost your workplace well-being by practicing something as simple as mindfulness.
Practicing mindfulness has been found to help people reduce stress and increase their capacity for empathy and compassion. When we’re more mindful at work, we’re less likely to be overwhelmed by our emotions and more able to stay focused on what really matters.
Mindfulness can also help us overcome the all-too-common ‘fight or flight response that we experience in high-stress situations. Instead of acting out of anger or panic, mindfulness helps us to respond from a place of common sense, empathy, and intelligence.
In a nutshell, mindfulness can help us become our best selves at work. This eventually leads to better performance, greater work relationships, and perhaps even a bigger paycheck.
So whether you need to cope better with your feelings at work or become more productive – mindfulness can help!
In this article, we’ll look at 14 things that you can start doing today to bring more mindfulness into your workday.
Have your lunch mindfully.
Gossip, mindlessly guzzling down food, and getting back to the office grind – this is a regular lunch break routine for so many of us.
I suggest you experiment with changing your relationship with the workplace lunch. From now on, treat your lunch break as a time where you can recharge your body and mind.
Whether you’re eating lunch alone or with colleagues, try to always bring mindful attention to the food on your plate. Take some time to be consciously aware of the smell, taste, and texture of the food.
Also, take time to examine the relationship between food and your body. Is the food you are eating providing genuine nourishment to your body? How hungry are you? Are you eating too fast?
After a mindful lunch, you will always feel de-stressed and revitalized. Whatever the rest of your day will throw your way, you will be ready for it.
Mindfully greet your coworkers in the morning.
For most of my life, I have been paying little to no attention to my coworkers in the morning. I am not a morning person, so the first few hours at work usually passed in a sort of buzz. I greeted people, but I didn’t pay any real attention to them.
Eventually, I decided to try a little challenge – I made it my goal to be mindful at times when I usually had very low energy levels. Practicing mindfulness during the first work hours was bound to be difficult.
Surprisingly, paying mindful attention to my coworkers was a massive help. I stopped mindlessly greeting people just out of politeness. Instead, I became mindful about these micro-interactions – I started to pay attention to tones of voice, facial expressions, eye colors, etc.
People somehow sense when you mindfully interact with them. Even if you pass only a few words, they will feel that you are fully present in the interaction.
In my experience, these first few interactions are crucial for the success of your day at work. Get these first few exchanges right and you will be mindful for the whole duration of your day.
Drink green tea.
Green tea has been known to stimulate the senses and help increase brain activity, which makes it perfect for becoming more mindful at work. You don’t even have to drink it hot – cold green tea is also beneficial.
Some people say that green tea tastes flat. Not true! These people just don’t know how to make the taste more playful.
My own favorite trick is to add some mint leaves to the green tea. This gives the tea a refreshing taste and also seems to reduce my craving for sugar. A true win-win.
One of the best ways to be mindful at work is to get organized. Organizing your desk, setting up email folders, and prioritizing important tasks makes it so much easier for you to concentrate.
Not only is clutter annoying to look at, but it also harms our work efficiency, mental health, and even our relationships with our coworkers.
So, if you find it impossible to stay mindful and focused at work, the solution could be as simple as cleaning your desk. It sounds stupidly simple, but it is stunningly effective for getting into a clear headspace.
Count your breaths while sitting at your desk.
Allow me to introduce you to a very effective yet simple technique that can help you become more mindful at work.
The principle behind this technique is that by focusing your mind on something simple like counting or observing your breath (instead of stressing about deadlines), it becomes easier to let go of worries and experience the present moment.
If you’re new to this practice, then it’s best to start with 1 or 2 minutes (work up as needed).
You can easily do this by dragging your chair away from your desk and sitting comfortably with your back straight and eyes closed. Then take a deep breath in through your nose and exhale slowly through your mouth (counting each exhale: “one, two, three”).
Continue counting until you reach 10 and then start over at 1. When you catch yourself thinking about work-related things, just gently return your focus to counting.
I have found this technique especially useful when I am so swamped with work that I don’t even know where to start. Mindful breathing quickly takes me back to the present moment and gets me out of panic mode. And, before I know it, that massive to-do list seems to shrink before my very eyes.
Be mindful of negative thoughts.
One of the most important parts of working towards mindfulness is recognizing negative thoughts as they occur—and then stop yourself from acting on them impulsively.
That means if you catch yourself thinking something like “I’m not really cut out for this job” or “they probably won’t like my idea”, remind yourself that these thoughts are not facts. When you view your negative thoughts from a more neutral angle, you will not get caught up in this thought and can get on with whatever task you are currently doing.
Oh, one more thing – do not try to aggressively push your negative thoughts away. This can quickly become counterproductive and create even more negativity in your mind. Just bringing your negative thoughts to conscious awareness is more than enough.
Set aside time for reflection at the end of every workday.
Asking yourself what you’ve accomplished, how you can do better tomorrow, and who you’ve helped (or hurt) during the day makes a huge difference in the long run.
So many of us run on autopilot at our workplaces. While this might be convenient, it is not all that good for our long-term progress. We need to think about what we want to achieve, how we want to achieve it, and whether we have even chosen the right career.
Before you leave your workplace, take 5 minutes to quietly analyze your relationship with all the aspects of your job. Were you engaged with your work today? Did you accomplish everything you set out to do? Is this work satisfying for your soul? Can you improve your performance tomorrow?
All of the questions and answers will come on their own as you quietly sit and contemplate.
When you make this kind of contemplation a habit, your relationship with your career will transform and find a new meaning.
Take advantage of mindful moments during your day.
We all have dozens of little moments during our workday where we can practice mindfulness, but most people don’t take advantage of them. For example, you might be in an elevator waiting to get to the next floor, or you might be sitting in traffic on your way to work.
These are perfect opportunities for practicing mindfulness – simply close your eyes and take deep breaths as you relax before moving on with your day.
Using these little gaps for practicing mindfulness will gently take you to the present moment. As a result, you will be more engaged with whatever tasks you need to complete at your job.
Listen to your colleagues mindfully.
Listening is arguably the most important part of good communication, and being present and engaged while listening is an important part of becoming more successful at work.
These days, people usually don’t fully listen to others – their minds are elsewhere or on their smartphones.
So, the next time you are having a conversation at work, put your full attention to what the other party is saying. Resist the temptation of thinking about your own answer when the other person is still talking.
“Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don’t” – this is what the famous clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson said about listening to other people. Keep this sentence in mind the next time you are listening to someone.
Beware of mind traps.
There are certain things that trigger negative emotions in us, causing us to behave a certain way. These are called mind traps – and they often cause problems at work because it’s easy to fall into them without even realizing it.
For example, you might find yourself getting frustrated with someone during an interaction, which causes you to lash out at them.
Be aware of these negative thought patterns. When you find yourself sinking into negativity, slow down and breathe. Did you overreact or is the situation genuinely worth this kind of negative response? Just becoming aware of your negativity will usually dissolve it.
Once you start becoming more mindful, you’ll be able to spot when you’re in a negative mind trap and stop yourself from letting it get the best of you.
Take a mindful approach to email.
When you’re at work your email inbox is always a source of stress, anxiety, and distraction from what you should be doing. You might feel that checking email is one of your priorities at work. The truth is that most of us check our mail way more than we should.
Instead of constantly checking your email, try becoming more mindful of your inbox by only checking it at certain, pre-set times. For example, I take care of my email right when I arrive at work and an hour before leaving the office.
I fully understand that some jobs will acquire you to check your inbox more often. If so, feel free to check your inbox more often. What matters here is that you do this at certain times instead of mindlessly opening your inbox whenever you feel a slight distraction.
By following a schedule for checking your inbox, you will become both more mindful and productive at work.
Take breaks with mindfulness activities.
You might find that taking breaks throughout the day is a great way to refresh yourself and get rid of unwanted distractions. Instead of checking Facebook or watching videos on YouTube like everyone else, why not try practicing mindfulness instead?
Take 15 minutes out of your day to do some mindful breathing, meditate, or stretch in order to get the most out of your break time. This will help you feel more energized as you go about the rest of your workday.
I also advise using this kind of “mindfulness break” before an especially demanding and stressful work-related event.
For example, even a simple mindful breathing exercise can help you clear your head for that huge presentation or meeting.
Be grateful for your job.
When you’re practicing mindfulness, the whole point is to help you be more in tune with your surroundings and experiences as they happen. One key to doing this is to become more appreciative of your job.
No job is perfect, but I am sure that anyone can find some work-related things to be grateful for. Maybe you have that coworker that you simply adore. Maybe you feel as if you are contributing to society with your work. Or maybe you are simply grateful that you do have a reliable job that provides you with a steady income.
From now on, try to set aside some time at work for positive contemplation. Focus solely on what makes you grateful for this job.
You will notice that this kind of positive reflection will automatically make you more mindful and effective at your work.
Multitasking is extremely stressful, even if you think you’re good at it. When you’re trying to focus on multiple things at once your mind can become overwhelmed, preventing you from doing your best at any of these things.
And, even if you do not find multitasking to be stressful, it is still rarely worth it. Focusing on too many things at once tends to severely decrease the quality of your work output.
In a worst-case scenario, you will have to go back and fix the mistakes you made while multitasking. If this happens, multitasking will cause you to lose time instead of helping you get things done faster.
Instead of multitasking, try single-tasking instead – do one thing at a time and give yourself time to be completely mindful about what you’re doing. You’ll be surprised by how much more productive you are when you give yourself time to concentrate on one thing at a time.
If you’re looking for ways to be more mindful at work, give some of these techniques and ideas a try. All of the tips in this article are practical, easy-to-use, and can be implemented regardless of your field of work.
Be aware that at first, the improvements might be very small. Regardless of this, keep going!
Mindfulness is something that takes practice, so the more you do it, the better you’ll become at it.
Thank you for reading and good luck on your spiritual journey!