13 Feb 2019, 12:10 — 7 min read
Summary: Have you ever opened an excel sheet on your desktop, only to realise minutes later that you can no longer recall why you opened it in the first place? Or, have you ever driven home from work and by the time you are home, you have no memory of the journey? These are classic examples of losing focus or life becoming mechanical and when that happens you no longer derive joy from work. So, why is it so important that your mind is completely aware of the space you are in and the task at hand? GlobalLinker member Shalini Sridhar explains how practicing mindfulness at work leads to greater joy and productivity.
When you think about mindfulness, you think about serene thoughts, a flowing waterfall, the soft strums of a violin or the melodious notes of a flute. You think about endless vistas, peaceful oceans and soft breezes caressing your face. If you think about these thoughts a few times a day, then you have practised some mindfulness.
Mindfulness is a buzzword that’s slowly becoming a household name. Although the concept of mindfulness has its roots dating back to the times of Buddha, mindfulness and its associated therapies came into focus in the late 1970s and was introduced by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, professor of medicine at University of Massachusetts.
So how can you practice mindfulness at the work place? Here are six tips I follow.
1. Start the day right
Starting the morning on a positive note works wonders for your mood and productivity. Just got into work? Maybe grab a cup of coffee to boost your brain neurons. Take a moment to get settled at your desk, put away bags, books, coats etc.
A quick check on your inbox for new emails gives you an idea to plan for the day ahead. Focus your energy in switching to work mode. If you have morning meetings, plan your timings in such a way you are able to spare some time for this ritual.
2. Consciousness of your surroundings
The mantra I usually follow to this day is 'being mindful of your surroundings'. Your body language, personality, speech and senses are psychologically reflected by the environment around you. So, what does it actually mean? When you were young you may have been cautioned about this as a means of protection against dangers. As you grew older it takes different meanings. You may or may not be able to control your surroundings, but when you become aware of your environment, your consciousness is able to perceive patterns, objects and events. Being present now, a hundred per cent, leads to more productivity at work.
3. Tackling the afternoon slump
We have all been there. When we get into work in the morning, we are charged, full of energy to start the day. By afternoon these levels go down and we wish we can just pull down the shades for a nap. A lot of factors can contribute to this crash including our nightly sleep cycles, staring for long hours at a monitor screen, not taking breaks etc.
Afternoon slumps can be managed with some tactful mindful practices. Take a moment to breathe. Perhaps listen to some soulful music. Perhaps do some meditation (don’t fall asleep!)
Other practices may include taking a short stroll outside, hydrating with a glass of water etc. How about some deskercises (desk exercises) at your desk to boost your energy?
4. Minding the mind
When we talk about minding the mind, we think about mental health.
According to research, mental health is a global issue affecting more than 670 million people (WHO, 2016). Struggling with mental health can have adverse effects at the workplace and in turn can affect your performance. Seeking therapies or professional help can help you tackle these issues. When our minds are not focused on the work we do, the quality suffers.
5. Live in the moment – but plan for the future
A beautiful quote by the Buddha states: The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.”
When we live and work in the present moment, we forget the past because we cannot change it anymore and we don’t dwell on the future because it hasn’t happened yet. How does this apply in the workplace? By proper planning for the day, week, month and year, you can lead a happy and stress-free work life.
6. Fighting stress
When you face stressful situations at work, practicing mindfulness can come to the rescue. Stress isn’t a 'bad' thing. It’s how we deal with it that counts. Our lives today can never be free of some form of stressors like strict bosses, deadlines, uncooperative coworkers and more. If we sit down to worry about every little thing, our mental and physical health takes a toll.
So next time you face a particularly stressful situation, try the S.T.O.P. technique:
S – Stop what you are doing now!
T – Take a deep breath to find your inner peace and listen to the sound of your breathing. Bring yourself to the present moment.
O – Observe and perceive yourself. Take stock of your physical body (are you breathing too fast?); your emotions (are you feeling extremely anxious or worried?); and your mental health (think about why you are having these feelings).
P – Proceed (with caution). Once you have recognised the need to calm yourself down, progress towards a more positive solution.
Tackle the rest of the day by remembering to practice these steps. When leaving for the day, learn to power down and be with your family and loved ones.
Encourage yourself to practice these tips everyday for a fulfilling and productive life.
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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views, official policy or position of GlobalLinker.