Many of us these days go through our fair share of working from home, sometimes even home-schooling on the side. The rest of us plough on to and from work, in what’s got to be the most disconcerting of times. How do we manage these feelings of wearing ourselves thin? More to the point, how can we prevent them from taking root in the first place? I wouldn’t call it a magic trick, but it comes close. Mindfulness is what keeps people who practice it in tip top mental and physical shape. No gym subscription required. Only your commitment, week in, week out, until this technique becomes second nature to you. All you have to do then is sit back and enjoy your brand new mindful auto-pilot mode. This is how it works.
Set the scene
Whether you work outdoors, in an open-space office or your spare room is where you set up your laptop, you can start by taking in your surroundings with a mindful attitude. Be grateful for what you appreciate about your workspace, and change what can help you achieve a happy state within yourself. Whether that be carrying photos of your loved ones in your breast pocket, setting a cactus on your desk or getting a fresh lick of paint to lift your spirits: anything applies, as long as it feels right for you.
Nature and nurture
Then you’ll want to start paying your body the attention it deserves. Work can have us drained and stressed rapidly, but a few simple reminders to oneself certainly have the power to ease our burdens. Opening windows to let some fresh air in, having a fresh glass of water, staying connected to nature by way of eating fruit and vegetables every day all ward off bad vibes. For those of us who cannot get their half-hour break in edgeways, I have good news for you: mindfulness will give you this space. Only in small chunks, dispersed throughout the day. You needn’t even practice mindfulness on a daily basis to reap its benefits. Just as often and for as long as you can manage will suffice. Being kind to yourself is the groundwork upon which to get started.
Take a few moments to set aside all work and just mind your own breathing. Pay attention to the flow of air passing in and out of your nostrils and chest as you do so.
Additionally, breathing deep into your tummy allows your lungs to fill properly with new air. Empty yourself of all worries as you exhale every last bit of the toxins bugging your system. This deep-breathing technique brings about the promise of new beginnings as it resets the body and mind, with oxygen at its core.
As with breathing, add purpose to the previously passive aspects of your work. Be mindful of what words you speak and use communication to your advantage. A genuine talk at the coffee machine can help defuse conflict before it happens. A compliment can build bridges and help form otherwise unlikely alliances. Efficient communication is a win-win, as the feel-good effect of simply gifting someone your time and thoughtfulness will bounce back to you.
Recite mantras to retain your sanity when the going gets tough. You could use tried-and-tested mantras of spiritual guides or create your own. This could be a self-motivating sentence or one that reminds you of a serene setting. Different mantras can be used depending on what you are facing.
Put pen to paper – just for fun
Even for those who work in a creative role, sparing two minutes every so often to put your heart and soul into drawing or colouring in a mandala will appease and re-channel your energies into your own creative world. One that knows no purchase orders, cost or deadlines.
Pause and reflect
Work is tough by nature. Take in the reality of the difficulties you are facing with a non-judgmental approach. Recognising the mountain ahead of you is going to work like wind in your back when time comes for the ascent. Practicing the ability to look at one’s circumstances from a safe place within will help your brain solidify new pathways to quietude and resilience.
Enliven your day
Turn the most insignificant moments of your day and its most mundane tasks into micro mindfulness opportunities. Take your walk to the printer, or a toilet break for example – and be aware of how energy flows through you when you are standing. Sense how your feet are anchored to the ground and how your frame is reaching upwards to the sky, allowing your whole being to be in sync with Mother Earth. Be happy to experience the marvellous machinery that is the human body as you walk the few yards that separate you from the kettle, say.
Use your lunch break to inhale the aromas of your cup of coffee and savour the different flavours that compose your meal. Paying loving attention to what you eat will boost your sense of self-worth and set you up positively for the next part of the day’s work. After all, we are what we eat, right?
Feel the familiar textures around you with a view to diving into their essence: the trees from which the drawer unit were made, the cotton plants that gave your napkin its smooth texture.
Broker a deal with yourself to limit social media use to certain times in the day. In lieu of this, try a little zen meditation on the job. Watch your thoughts simply cross your mind as you focus on your breathing, unconstrained and free. Decide when to return to your impending tasks and appreciate this window of calm in your day.
Embracing the change for the better
Once you begin practicing mindfulness at work, you’ll notice it spill over on to all other aspects of your life. Seeing the sizeable chunk of awake time we spend at work, this is surely the best place to start. Before long, mindfulness will have become a new habit. Around two months precisely, as research shows. Why not start infusing some goodness into your work today?