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Three Ways to Practice Mindfulness at Work

March 7, 2023
woman at work smiling

The phrase “mindfulness” feels like it is everywhere right now. You may be thinking “What does it actually mean to practice mindfulness?” The Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley describes mindfulness as “maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment, through a gentle, nurturing lens.” In other words, in today’s chaotic world, mindfulness asks you to take a minute to tune into yourself. How am I feeling? What is happening around me? Am I hungry? Am I holding my jaw tightly?

Mindfulness also involves acceptance, meaning that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to feel. Instead, we notice how we feel and accept it. When we practice mindfulness, our thoughts should tune into what we’re sensing in the present moment, rather than reliving the past or planning for the future.

Benefits of Mindfulness

According to The Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, mindfulness it has its roots in Buddhist meditation, though a secular practice of mindfulness has entered the American mainstream in recent years.

Mindfulness-based treatments have “been shown to reduce anxiety and depression. There’s also evidence that mindfulness can lower blood pressure and improve sleep, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). It may even help people cope with pain. Researchers are now studying whether mindfulness training can help with a variety of other conditions, including PTSD, eating disorders, and addiction.

Three Ways to Practice Mindfulness at Work

You don’t need to be in a yoga class to practice mindfulness. Here are three things you can do at work to check in with yourself, from mindful.org.

1. Be a Single-Tasker.

Single-tasking is exactly what you think it is, doing one thing at a time. The reality is that very few people can multi-task. Instead, when you are hopping back and forth between tasks your brain is losing little pieces of information every time you switch. Even though you might feel productive, multi-tasking often hinders your work performance. One way to single-task at work is to create time blocks on your calendar, such putting 30 minutes at the end of your shift where you only work on a daily report, or 15 minutes every morning where you only check emails and plan for the day. This can help you to focus your energy on one thing at a time.

2. Use Mindful Reminders

Remembering to practice mindfulness can be hard, especially if you are not used to practicing mindfulness. Many of us run on sort of an “autopilot” default mode. By using some form of reminder, you can be mindful again. The reminder shakes you out of auto-pilot mode. Try setting an alarm on the phone – even a vibrating alarm that doesn’t disturb others can work. Then, every time your alarm goes off, take a mindful breath, and check in with yourself. This could also work with a smart watch or setting a reminder on your calendar.

3. Accept What You Can’t Change.

Acceptance is at the heart of mindfulness. There will be times during your work hours that things happen that you simply cannot change. They are facts, and rather than denying they happened, or avoiding thinking about it, try to come to terms with it. As soon as you accept that, you can move forward and try to deal with the situation the best way you can. Acceptance can lead to positive change.

While these are just three ways to practice mindfulness at work, there are opportunities to practice mindfulness all time of the day. The more you practice it, the more second nature it will become.
And if you forget, don’t fret, accept, and try again tomorrow.