How to be mindful at work? Mindfulness in practice

July 8, 2019

There is a growing amount of evidence that mindfulness can be highly beneficial to our work well-being. Research has shown that it can reduce stress and prevent burnout, increase work engagement and job satisfaction and also enhance our overall well-being and life satisfaction. The core idea of mindfulness is very simple: be consciously present in your senses, thoughts and feelings in this moment of now, accepting the experience as it is. Being mindful at work means being present in the task you are working on right now, acknowledging your thoughts and feelings instead of operating unconsciously. But why does something that sounds so easy feel so hard sometimes? How can you easily be more mindful during your busy work day so that you feel productive, more alive and present?

From automatic pilot and rumination to conscious presence

Our mind has a strong tendency to wander away from this moment to evaluate the past or plan the future. While doing your familiar daily activities your brain switches into automatic pilot mode, where we operate unconsciously to save energy and attention for more complex tasks. The problem is that our mind tends to use this awareness for rumination of our past and our problems.

Research shows that people spend 47 % of their waking hours thinking about something other than what they are doing at the moment, which usually makes them unhappy. Mindfulness trains your mind to be consciously present and therefore helps to live in the moment of now more deeply.

Becoming mindful doesn't have to be difficult or time consuming: being consciously present even just for a minute trains your mind and helps you to recognize the difference between operating consciously and on automatic pilot. This type of short mindful moment can help you to calm down and reduce stress. It gives you more space to be creative and to act based on reasoned decisions rather than automatically reacting to situations.

Mindfulness at work can be easy

You don't necessarily have to do anything special, close your eyes or sit down, even if starting mindfulness practice can feel easier that way. Becoming mindful is possible anytime and anywhere, you just have to remember to bring your awareness to your senses and to what you are doing right now.

Focus only on one thing at a time so you can become aware of it. This also helps you to not waste your energy on switching between the tasks and to work effectively. When your thoughts start to wonder, which always happens eventually, just bring your attention back to what you are doing and sensing.

This may sound really simple but it can be difficult to remember when our mind is running wild and automatic pilot is taking control of our actions. That is why you should pick some reminders from you daily work life that remind you to return to the present moment, become aware of your surrounding and your sensations.

Try these tips to be more mindful at work

At the start of your workday: Make a clear decision to be present as much as you can. Making a promise to yourself primes your mind to remember to be present.

Coffee or tea break: Feel the warmth of the cup, smell your drink and really taste the nuances of it. Feel how the coffee warms up your body.

Notification or vibration of your phone: Let your notification to remind you of being mindful. Instead of rushing to check the message stop for a moment. Become aware of your surroundings, breath and bodily sensations. What kind of posture you have, could you relax your shoulders a bit?

Greeting your colleague: Saying hi to your colleagues can remind you to return to the present moment. Really look at the other person and pay attention on how you feel to see your colleague. Be present when greeting the other person. This can also accidentally enhance relationships and atmosphere at your workplace.

Commute: Commute in the morning or on your way back home is a perfect moment to be mindful and become aware of your senses or surroundings instead of worrying about work. Mindfulness practice made in the morning helps to be present and de-stress during the work day. Mindful way home also helps to detach mentally from work which is a key-factor for your recovery.

These are the ways I use to be mindful during the workday. Try if they work for you or think what other reminders you could use?

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