Bringing Mindfulness into the workplace

How to make mindfulness a part of your work day.

A man being mindful in an office setting.
Photo: Unsplash.

Workplaces can be stressful. There are the needs of the job, as well as the social environment and the challenges of finding a work/life balance. Bringing mindfulness into the workplace has benefits for both employers and employees. Mindfulness in the workplace helps to increase the feeling of belonging at work, which is linked to a 56% increase in job performance, as well as a drop in the risk of employee turnover and up to a 75% reduction in the number of sick days taken.

There are many ways to practice mindfulness at work and incorporating just some of these into your daily routine at work can lead to an increase in focus and awareness.  To bring mindful moments into your workday, consider the following practices:

  • Begin as soon as you arrive at your workplace by settling in for a few minutes to just pay attention to your breathing. Begin with breath for improved well-being. If you find your mind wandering, simply return it to your breath.
  • As you move into your work for the day, focus on doing one task at a time rather than multi-tasking. As distractions inevitably arise, try to put them aside and continue focusing on the original work. Being mindful of the task at hand helps to increase job focus and decrease the power of those distractions.
  • When checking email, be mindful of the loss of focus this creates. For a more productive morning, look at waiting to check email until you have your most important task completed or set up scheduled times to check email a few times a day.
  • When attending a meeting, try to take two minutes before to practice a mindful moment thereby refocusing so you can be more mentally present and focused.
  • As you move around the office environment, take a minute to focus on the act of walking rather than the place that you are going. Alternatively, take a short break and get outside to focus attention on things other than work.
  • As you eat, slow down and focus on the sensory experience of eating for a couple of bites. Check out ways to try mindful eating.
  • As afternoon fatigue sets in, set a timer once an hour to build in a quick one-minute mindfulness practice to keep your thoughts focused and sharp.

These quick mindful breaks help to refocus and keep us from lapsing into mindlessness and going through the day on autopilot. At the end of the workday, it is important to continue to be mindful as the transition is made to home life. A quick mindful moment on the trip home or before entering your home can help you to put aside the stresses of the day so that you can be fully present with your family.

Michigan State University Extension has Mindfulness for Better Living programs that may be beneficial and also has a Stress Less with Mindfulness series that can help with finding mindful practices as a way to alleviate stress.

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