Ever had a work day like this?
You go to work, throw yourself into whatever project you’re working on, and don’t notice what’s going on around you. You forget you have coworkers and get distracted by emails and the latest celebrity gossip.
By the time you realize it’s the end of the day, you’ve avoided what you’re supposed to be doing and haven’t accomplished what you need to. You go home feeling disconnected, frustrated, tense, stressed, annoyed or any other combination of negative emotions.
You can get out of this awful cycle by practicing mindfulness. Mindfulness means you experience life in the present rather than reliving the past or worrying about what might happen in the future. It allows you to focus more on work, so you get more done at the office — which means leaving work at your job instead of bringing it home.
Here are three ways you can practice mindfulness at work:
1. Create a ritual to start your work day
It’s great to have a ritual to start your day so you don’t just sit down at your desk, dive into work and lose awareness of what’s going on around you. When you get to work, take a minute to look around your work environment. Is it organized? Is it comfortable?
It’s easier to get lost in your work and avoid your surroundings if they’re disorganized and uncomfortable. Straighten up so your workspace is somewhere that you want to be. Make yourself a cup of tea or get your bottle of water out so you don’t dehydrate. Breathe deep and get comfortable.
2. Take regular breaks
A break can last a few minutes, but make sure to turn off your “work brain” when you’re taking it. (Click here to tweet this thought.) This will prevent you from going through your work day on autopilot and forgetting to look away from your computer for a bit.
You can use your break to connect with your coworkers by focusing on them, rather than drifting off into thoughts of what you “should be” doing. Take some time to enjoy lunch away from your computer and phone to avoid reading email. Or stay at your desk and enjoy a few short minutes of meditation or deep breathing. You’ll find you’re more focused after these breaks.
3. Check in with your body
Pay attention to the sensations of your body — is your back tensing up? Are your hands cramping? Do you feel pressure in your chest? All of these physical signs let you know what’s going on. They signal that it’s time to slow down and eat lunch or drink some water.
Maybe you’ve been sitting too long and need to stand up and stretch. Or you need to look away from the computer screen for a few minutes to give your eyes a break and avoid a headache. Or if you’re continually feeling tense and have a hard time relaxing, it may be time to use that vacation time you’ve been saving up.
Which one of these mindfulness practices will you try out first?
Nicole Liloia, LCSW is a stress+less coach and therapist who helps smart-yet-stressed women center themselves and develop self-care plans that stick so that they can stop feeling overwhelmed and start enjoying their lives. Find her strategies to stress less and live more at www.nicoleliloia.com