Mindfulness in our Workplaces
Tips to Bring Mindfulness into our Workplaces
- Be Consciously Present
Mindfulness is, above all, about being aware and awake rather than operating unconsciously. Mindful work means to be consciously present in what you’re doing, while you’re doing it, as well as managing your mental and emotional state. Each time your mind wanders, just acknowledge the thoughts and bring your attention back to the task in hand.
Here are some ideas to help you become more mindful and consciously present:
– Let your body be as comfortable as possible and see what happens. Don’t control your body.
– Treat your mind like a lovely friend. Say ‘mind, what do you want to do now?’
– Cultivate contentment right now. Be content with the way things are with your busy, crazy, agitated mind. Your mind is tired and stressed. Let it be.
- Use Short Mindful Exercises at Work
Mindful exercises train your brain to be more mindful. The more mindful exercises you do, the easier your brain can drop into a mindful state, thus optimizing your brain function. In the busy workplace, finding time for a 30-minute mindful exercise can be difficult. The good news is, Mindful exercises can be as short as you wish. Even one minute of consciously connecting with one of your senses can be classified as a mindful exercise. You don’t need to close your eyes. You don’t even need to be sitting down. Be creative about finding slots in the day to practice mindfulness exercises. The process helps to rebalance your nervous system, toning down the fight-or-flight response, so that you make reasoned decisions rather than automatically react to situations.
- Be a Single-Tasker
Single-tasking is doing one thing at a time. Multi-tasking is trying to do two or more tasks at the same time or switching back and forth between tasks. Nobody can actually multi-task. In reality, your brain is madly switching from one thing to the next, often losing data in the process.
The word “mindful” means to remember so, one way you can stay on track is to use Mindful Reminders. So, you might consider setting an alarm on your phone so, every time your phone rings, you take a mindful breath. Or every time you hear the ping of a text message, you pause to be mindful of your surroundings rather than immediately reacting by checking the message. All these things are opportunities to come back into the present moment, to see yourself and your surroundings afresh.
- Mindful Work: Slow Down To Speed Up
Mindfulness at work does seem counter-intuitive. You’re considering the fact that, by stopping or slowing down, you can become more efficient, productive, happy, resilient and healthy at work.
Being in a panicky rush leads to bad decisions and is a misuse of energy. Instead, pause, focus on listening, stroll rather than run, and generally take your time when at work. Effective leaders, workers, and entrepreneurs slow down and reflect to make the best decisions and actions—they slow down to speed up.
- Make Stress Your Friend
Recent research conducted at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, found that people experiencing high levels of stress but who believed that stress was good for them had among the lowest mortality rates. Whereas highly stressed people who believed that stress was bad for their health had the highest chance of dying. Your beliefs about stress clearly have an impact on your health and well-being.
The next time you’re facing a challenge at work, notice how your heart rate speeds up and your breathing accelerates. Observe these responses and then switch your attitude—respond to your stress creatively rather than negatively. Be grateful that the stress response is energizing you. Note that your body is preparing you for your upcoming challenge and that a faster heart rate is sending more oxygen around your body. Be grateful that the process is sharpening your senses and boosting your immune system. By viewing the stress response from this perspective, you see your upcoming problem as a positive challenge and recognize your body preparing to meet it. This small change in attitude can literally add years to your life and improve your productivity and achievements in the workplace.
- Feel Gratitude
Humans have a “negativity bias” which means that we’re much more likely to focus and dwell on something that’s gone wrong than on things that have gone well. Behaving in this way every day means that you ultimately adopt an excessively negative and unbalanced way of thinking.
Gratitude is the antidote. Plenty of evidence suggests that actively practicing gratitude makes you feel better and has a positive impact on your creativity, health, working relationships, and quality of work. Gratitude makes being at both work and home more positive experiences.
Being mindful of what’s going well at work helps to improve your resilience. Rather than allowing your mind to spiral into anxiety or dip into low moods as you brood over all the aspects of the job you don’t like, you can feed your mind with thoughts of gratitude to raise your well-being.
- Cultivate Humility
In Jim Collin’s hugely popular book Good to Great, he identified leaders who turned good companies into great ones and found that the companies exhibiting the greatest long-term success had leaders demonstrating all the skills of your standard leader but with one extra quality—personal humility. They were willing to work hard, but not for themselves—for the company. If things went wrong, they didn’t seek to blame others to protect themselves. And if things went well, they immediately looked outside of themselves to congratulate others and acknowledged the collective contribution.
How is humility linked to mindfulness? Mindfulness is about accepting yourself just as you are, and being open to listening to and learning from others. Mindfulness is also synonymous with gratitude—you appreciate how others have helped you. And someone who is grateful for the contribution of others is naturally humble.
- Accept What You Can’t Change
Acceptance lies at the heart of mindfulness. To be mindful means to accept this present moment just as it is. And it means to accept yourself, just as you are now.
When you accept yourself, you cut down on energy-draining self-criticism. You’re then much better able to enjoy your successes and smile at your shortcomings.
Personal acceptance is even more powerful. Self-acceptance is embracing all facets of yourself—your weaknesses, shortcomings, aspects you don’t like and those you admire. When you accept yourself, you cut down on energy-draining self-criticism. You’re then much better able to enjoy your successes and smile at your shortcomings. Through self-acceptance, you can create a clarity of mind that allows you to work on those aspects of yourself you wish to improve. The starting point of self-improvement and personal development is self-acceptance.
- Adopt a Growth Mindset
According to researcher Carol Dweck and her team at Stanford University, people essentially adhere to one of two mindsets—a growth or a fixed mindset.
Mindfulness is about adopting a growth mindset. Mindfulness is about giving attention to the present moment and not judging your innate talent or intelligence, but being open to new possibilities. When you adopt a growth mindset at work, you don’t mind getting negative feedback as you view it as a chance to discover something new. You don’t mind taking on new responsibilities because you’re curious about how you’ll cope. You expect and move towards challenges, seeing them as opportunities for inner growth. That’s the essence of mindfulness at work—believing that you can improve and grow with experience, moving towards challenges, living in the moment, and discovering new things about yourself and others.
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By Kathy Noel, Mindfulness Teacher and Yoga Teacher. Adapted from mindful.org.