Posted on January 14, 2020
Eight hours a day is a lot. You’ve probably thought that on more than one occasion, sitting at your desk. How is it only 3pm when it feels like it’s time to go home? Why is nothing on my to-do list complete? What the heck just happened in that meeting? What did I even do all day?
If this sounds familiar, don’t worry. You’re not alone. Research shows that people spend almost 47 percent of their waking hours thinking about something other than what they’re doing. Long days, work-related stress, and other stressful situations leave many people feeling disconnected from the present moment and even their inner emotions.
The good news is that your brain has the ability to be trained to focus better and that our therapist matching service is here to help. You don’t have to continue spending 40 hours a week in this state of lethargy and unproductivity when you learn how to be mindful at work. It seems daunting, but mindfulness at work is really all about making small shifts to your normal routine.
Here are our key steps to mindful living in the workplace
When you’re figuring out how to try the benefits of mindfulness at work, the best place to start is actually at home –– more specifically, your bed. We humans release the most stress hormones within minutes of waking up. Think about it. You wake up warm and relaxed in your cozy bed, only to check your email or calendar. Thinking about what lies ahead of you for the day triggers our fight-or-flight instinct and releases cortisol into our blood. Instead, wait at least ten minutes to check your phone. Bonus points if you can immediately focus on your breath for two whole minutes right when you wake up in bed. As thoughts about the day pop into your mind, let them go and return to your breath. Starting the day off with an intention is one of the best mindfulness exercises for anxiety and will lead to more mindfulness at work later in the day, as well as more efficient stress reduction.
When you get to the office, don’t open your laptop and start furiously chipping away at your inbox that seems to have exploded overnight. Instead, take 10 minutes at your desk, or even in your car before you go in, to boost your brain with a short mindfulness practice before you dive into activity. This means being mindful of the body and the breath. Close your eyes, sit upright, ground yourself in your space, and place full focus on your breath. One of the best mindfulness techniques at work to help your focus is to stay on your breathing and count silently at each exhalation. Sure, your mind will wander, especially if you’re already at your desk. Any time you find your mind distracted, don’t get frustrated; just refocus on your breath. Most importantly, allow yourself to enjoy the present moment! Avoid The Post Lunch Slump.
Sure, the day started productively and focused, but after lunch, the hours sort of slid by in a blur. To maximize your afternoon, set a timer on your phone to ring every hour. When the timer goes off, stop what you’re doing and instead focus on one minute of a mindfulness program of your choosing, whether it’s a lap around the block, getting up to drink water, or just taking deep breaths in your chair. These performance breaks will help keep you from resorting to autopilot and increase well-being at work.
Finally, at the end of the day, use your commute as another opportunity to practice mindfulness. For at least 10 minutes of the ride, turn off your phone, shut off the radio, and simply be silent. Let go of any thoughts that arise. Focus on your breath. This breathing exercise will reduce your stress levels so you can return home and be fully present with your family. Also, try incorporating a few mindfulness exercises into your commute to make the most of your time spent on the road.
Mindfulness in the workplace isn’t time-consuming. In fact, it enhances focus and awareness that help increase productivity. If practicing mindfulness on your own isn’t enough, utilize our therapist matching service to get matched with the perfect mental health professional. Your therapist can help be a guide and support you in helping bring a mindful practice to your day.
Alison LaSov, LMFT
Alison LaSov is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist with experience treating clients struggling with anxiety and depression. She predominantly focuses on mental health intervention for children and adolescents, particularly those who are in crisis. She has worked within the Los Angeles education system treating students with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), as well as supervised a non-profit Teen Crisis Hotline out of Cedars-Sinai Hospital. Alison earned her B.A. from UCLA and M.A. from Pepperdine University. She is a native to Los Angeles and co-founder at Advekit.