Mind your mind – How to practice mindfulness at work
In case you didn’t know today is Blue Monday – the most depressing day of the year.
Blue Monday dates back to 2005, when Dr Cliff Arnall formerly of Cardiff University created a formula to find the gloomiest day of the year, based on weather, motivation and debt, among other factors.
If it wasn’t bad enough, scientists have now confirmed that Blue Monday 2017 could be the most depressing yet. This is thanks to uncertainty around Donald Trump and Brexit and anxiety about the recent throng of celebrity deaths.
In recent blog posts we have covered how to stay fit, and tips on exercising. However now it’s time to look after your mind – what better day than Blue Monday? Here are some simple tips on how to be more mindful while at work.
Pause with Purpose
Ensure that you give yourself time each day to pause with purpose. These pauses should allow you to arrive at your office or desk and to be aware of your surroundings. Give yourself a few moments to be conscious of your breathing, your senses and your surroundings. You can pause for 30 seconds or three minutes – whichever you feel is best for you.
Slow down to speed up
The concept of slowing down can feel foreign to most, you may feel that it’s the last thing you should be doing. However allowing yourself to stop for a minute or slowdown will improve efficiency, productivity, creativity and not to mention health and happiness. Consider how productive and all round better you feel after a good night sleep, now think of these mindfulness pauses as mini-naps for your body and mind.
We can all get swept up in our 9-5, and forget all about mindfulness and resting. So it’s important to make an effort to remind yourself to take that minute or two throughout the day. Set reminders on your desktop or phone, if that won’t work for you have a picture on your desk that you associate with mindfulness that will remind you every time you look at it. These reminders are great for beginners but it’s important to get to a point when you realise at what points throughout the day you need to be mindful.
The first 5 minutes
It’s important that every morning, you start the day, and the day doesn’t start you. Gift yourself that first five minutes of arriving at your desk to take some time to be mindful. As your computer turns on just sit in the moment and breath. Reflect on what you did the previous day and begin to think about what you’re working on that day. It’s not about switching off and clearing your thoughts but more about steering your thoughts in the right direction.
Give your full attention
To be mindful at work means to be consciously present throughout the day, this doesn’t just apply to the big ticket tasks but to all your jobs, even sending an email, answering the phone, or printing a document you should be fully present. The little moments throughout the day can be the most important ones.
Despite what you might see or hear no one can successfully multitask. When you switch from one job to other you are bound to lose something along the way. By single-tasking you will have far more attention to detail, you won’t lose any genius ideas and you won’t have to double check your work as you weren’t fully focused. To competently single-task you should switch off or ignore distractions, spend a little more time when planning so you can group tasks together and log your to-dos in a time journal.
Acceptance is key
Acceptance can be one of the hardest concepts of mindfulness especially for leaders, but it is one of the most important ones. Acceptance doesn’t mean giving up or quitting. If you accept what has already happened or what you cannot change you will yourself stress, energy and anxiety. Accept what has or will happen, learn from your errors and focus your energy elsewhere.
Mindfulness is not about slowing down but instead giving yourself time to rest, reflect and focus your thoughts.
Dr Arnall, the man behind Blue Monday, said people could cheer themselves up by focusing on the things that they can change. Use today as a springboard for change and begin practicing mindfulness at work.