Work. We spend most of our lives there but rarely give thought to how or why. Whether you view work is a necessary evil or you jump out of bed in the morning with a smile on your face, work can sometimes be stressful.But is there a way to bring the stress level down a notch or two? Enter mindfulness.
It’s easy to get caught in an endless cycle of ‘doing, doing, doing’ at work. We jump from one task to the next, firmly focused on the ‘To do’ list with not enough time to squeeze it all in. we forget to ‘be’. When we do that our creativity shuts down, innovation heads for the door and we move onto auto-pilot. Mindfulness provides us with a choice, it gives us a way back into the present moment and a way of slowing down the onslaught of working life.
So how can you build mindfulness into your working life?
We’ve all been there, sometimes after a morning commute you feel as though you’ve already done a full day’s work, just adding to the exhaustion.
See if it’s possible to park the car further away from the office or get off the bus or the train a stop early using the rest of the journey for a mindful walk. Notice how your body feels as you walk, the shift of weight from left to right, the sensation of the ground under your feet, supporting you. Take time to be in the moment by noticing what’s around you, the sensations of the wind on your face, the architecture of the buildings, the sunlight falling upon the leaves in the trees. And if it’s possible, maximize your walk by using any parks or green space along the way. We know from research that walking in a green space gives an even greater return on your stress busting investment for your walk.
Set yourself a reminder to pause and be throughout the day. These mini check ins are a great way of reminding yourself to take time out, bringing your mind and body back into the moment. Try setting a gentle alarm on your phone every 40 minutes or using one of the many apps available that sound a bell (Zazen is a great free example of this). When you hear the reminder, just stop whatever you’re doing, pause and breath, checking in with what’s going on in your mind and body. Ask yourself; ‘What’s here, right now?”
It’s so easy to turn on your computer and get drawn into everything you read, to feel the beginnings of a stress cycle as you scan row upon row of emails. The next time you walk into the office, try this before you make a start. Sit down and close your eyes, feel the chair supporting you, your feet on the ground, the contact with the earth. Notice what’s happening in your mind; are you calm, hurried or tense? Just notice, don’t judge or try to change whatever is going on. How does your body feel? What’s here? In this moment? As you breath, say to yourself “In” as you inhale and “Out” as you exhale. Do this for 3 minutes. If your mind waders, or you become distracted by thoughts, notice without getting caught up, saying to yourself “This is thinking”. Give yourself a pat on the back for notIcing and then come back to the breath. This is a great way to ground yourself before starting your day and also an excellent practice if you find yourself in the thick of things and feeling overwhelmed as the day goes on.
For more, watch Chade Meng Tan reveal how Google have brought mindfulness into the workplace: