Are you ready to challenge yourself? Here, I give you some effective mindfulness based practices that you can start doing already today! All you need is an open mind and you’re good to go.
This week’s challenge is about mindfulness at work. When thinking about mindfulness, we might easily associate it as a thing to do at home, behind closed doors and all by ourselves without any distractions. Home is a good place to start practicing mindfulness, but it for sure isn’t the only possible place. We spend a big part of our lives at work, so why not bringing mindfulness to work as well?
Once the work mode switches on, it can so easily lead towards a state of mind of being busy, stressed out or operating in autopilot. Already the work environment itself can activate a certain state of mind. The purpose of mindfulness at work is to shake that work mode and to take moments to being fully present in the moment, also in the middle of those busy days.
Mindfulness at work sounds a great idea, but isn’t it very difficult to actually bring mindfulness to work? How to take those first steps and start practicing mindful routines at work? Next, I will guide you on how to take the first steps to add awareness into your working days. I have divided my tips into three different parts; what you can do before going and on your way to work, at work and finally, on your way back home.
Before going to work
The first steps towards mindful working starts already right after you have woken up. Depending on your morning routines, take 5 to 20 minutes fully for yourself, for being silent and preferably practicing mindfulness at some level. It can be sitting still, watching out of the window towards the sky, the street or the forest. Listening to the sounds what you can hear. Observing what you see around yourself. Once taking this time, you can also quickly go through your work agenda for the day in your mind. Remind yourself that you will do your best today, and that is enough. In case you cannot complete your to do – list fully, be gentle towards yourself and accept it. You will do your best today. You are enough.
If you are not working remotely from home and you have to commute to work by walking, by public transport, by bicycle or by car, bring awareness to this part of the day as well. Remind yourself that you are not at work yet; you are only on the way to work. Try to free your mind from thinking about any work-related things. Ask yourself, have you ever been fully relaxed and at peace once going to work? Fully aware of your body sensations, of your thoughts and emotions?
If you drive or take public transport, the first easy step to connect with yourself is to turn off the radio, music or podcast or anything you would normally listen to. Just be in the silence and connect with yourself. Let all the tension go. Don’t rush if you are driving or walking; you are not in a hurry. The work will wait for you, whether you are at peace or stressed out. I strongly encourage you to choose the first one.
Mindfulness at work
Once you arrive at work, start with a break. And no, you are not lazy if you do this. Starting with a 5-minute break provides you some time to get your mind to where you are and to start your tasks with full awareness. Again, remind yourself that you are enough just the way you are.
During the day, once you take breaks – hopefully you do, as it is extremely important to have even some quick breaks during the day – instead of going to have another cup of coffee or tea, go for a walk around the office, for example. Focus fully on yourself, relaxing your body and mind, bringing your mind completely out from any work-related thought. Aim to take 1-5 minute breaks every hour, if possible. Use these breaks to connect with yourself. Focus on your breath and your body. If you have your own office room, close the door during those breaks, and if you are in an open office, try to find a place where you can be without too much distractions.
Mindfulness after work
Once you have completed your working day, congratulate yourself for completing the day. You did your best for the day! Write your to-do list for the next day so that you don’t need to keep the list in your mind all evening. Once closing the office door, consciously leave your work at the office. If possible, leave your computer and work phone at the office. That concretely helps you separate work from free time. If that is not possible, do this separation in your mind.
Once you step outside, feel the fresh air, the sun, the rain or the wind in yourself. Bring awareness to what you can sense in this moment. Once you are walking home, towards the car or bus station, don’t rush. I can understand that you might want to rush home as quickly as possible. But once again, remind yourself that you are not in a hurry. You are not home yet, you are on the way home. Feel this difference and bring your mind into the moment.
Don’t think about what you need to buy from the groceries or what you need to do once you arrive home. Walk or drive a bit more slow-paced than you normally would. How does the slower pace make you feel? What are your body sensations now on the way home? Acknowledge that you have this moment fully for yourself. You are not in your work mode, either on the “home mode”. You are in between, fully with yourself, in this moment.
Finally, once you arrive home, take a moment to yourself. If you live by yourself, breathe in the silence for a few minutes. If someone is waiting for you at home, say hello, but make sure to take the moment you need to mindfully arrive home. Then, I suggest you to change your clothes to really change your work mode into the “home mode”. Take another moment to focus on your breath, connecting with yourself. You can even have a longer meditation moment if you feel like you need it. And whenever you are ready, continue your day remembering that you can always bring yourself back to the present moment.
x Mari Susanna