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I encourage you to stop what you’re doing for a moment, soften your eyes and focus on your breathing. Make your breaths long and deep and extend them into your belly. Begin to notice the rhythm of your breaths, the sounds that surround you and the sensations in your body. Continue this practice for a few minutes. You might have begun to notice things like a slight pain in your back, the sound of laughter down the hall or squirrels chasing each other outside your office window. You might also feel that a bit of tension was released from both your body and mind.
There are many forms of mindfulness, and when integrated into your daily work routine, these practices can bring about meaningful transformations in how you feel and engage in the office. Watching squirrels play out your window may not seem like a transcendent experience, but the decreased stress, improved physical health and increased productivity associated with mindfulness can objectively improve your work life in many ways.
In a previous article, I introduced mindfulness techniques specifically used to maximize productivity for you and your team members. Here are some more mindfulness practices that you can weave into your workday and potentially add to your entrepreneurial toolkit:
Practice mindful eating.
Many in the workplace rush meals or even skip them. Practicing mindful eating is one of the best ways to ensure you are properly nourishing your body and that you have the energy to devote to solving the tasks for the day. When you eat in a hurry, or while multitasking, you might not be paying attention to how your food is making you feel. To begin your mindful eating practice, eliminate any other distractions and tune into the act. Mindful eating can be integrated into your workday during snack or lunch breaks. You don’t need a lot of time to create a space where you can give your food your full attention.
Take breaks and take inventory.
Make sure to take a few breaks throughout the day at work to tune into how you are feeling. A body scan can help you notice and release unnecessary tension. You can easily do this while sitting at your desk. Start by sitting up tall and take a few long, deep breaths. Focus on your toes and notice any tension. You can actively tense and release if you wish. Now move up through your body and release any tension until you reach the top of your head. Then, take one final inventory. How do you feel?
Incorporating even short bursts of exercise into your workday can have a significant impact on your well-being. Studies have shown that simply being in nature can result in positive effects. You don’t need to be deep in the forest to reap these benefits, though. You can experience the rewards of spending a bit of time in nature at a park next to your work or in an indoor space filled with plants. To get the full experience, leave your phone behind and turn your attention to what is happening around you. Some workplaces even have incentives to exercise. A few other ways to incorporate movement into your workday include walking to or from work, taking a fitness class during your lunch break and joining a workplace sports league or social run club.
Expressing gratitude is one of the most powerful ways to improve both your personal life and your work life. It is also one of the simplest mindfulness practices. To practice gratitude at work, set a calendar alert for midday. At that time, stop what you are doing and jot down three to five things for which you are grateful. It can be anything from the sunshine coming through the window to a friendly co-worker or your new pair of shoes. Practicing gratitude has been shown to improve physical and psychological health and increase happiness and life satisfaction. Gratitude in the workplace may also help employees de-stress and experience greater work satisfaction and a sense that they can achieve their goals.
Active listening is the practice of mindfully interacting with the people in your life. To put active listening into use at your job, pay full attention to co-workers when they are talking without interrupting or interjecting your own opinion, and acknowledge that they have your attention. This activity has been shown to improve relationships both at work and in day-to-day life.
Engage with your emotions.
Learning to process your emotions in a mindful way can improve your work relationships and set the tone for your daily interactions. Notice when you begin feeling an emotion and find ways to acknowledge it and let it pass through. If available in your office, it might help to find a quiet place to center yourself. However, don’t be afraid to also express that emotion to your boss or a coworker you trust. When you hold onto emotions, negative or positive, it reduces the flow necessary to stay on your game.
One of the brilliant aspects of mindfulness is that it can be brought into almost any workday activity to help you improve. From how you communicate to how you take your breaks, taking time to integrate even short mindfulness exercises throughout your day can significantly improve your life.