Photo courtesy of Sukhasanachair
Since today is officially Labor Day, we are supposed to recognize all of the economic and social contributions of our country’s workforce, which happens to include most of us. Since it’s us that we’re appreciating, I propose that we view today as a welcome day off and a last goodbye to long summer days and family vacations. Enjoy each and every moment of today – whether you’re sleeping in late, cooking burgers, or watching movies all afternoon. Be thankful that you have a job to have a day off from.
Make tomorrow your Labor Day! You’ll be back at work, after all, and you will have had the benefit of a long weekend to fuel your professional engine. As your way of celebrating your Labor Day, find small ways to bring mindfulness into your workplace. We already know that thinking, moving, and eating mindfully keeps us centered in the moments of life, bringing us more in touch with ourselves and our experiences. As we practice mindfulness, our cortisol levels drop, leaving us with a feeling of evaporating clouds of stress and a sudden clarity of the here and now.
Although job-related situations may not typically be on your radar as appropriate mindfulness opportunities, they should be. Another benefit of living mindfully is an increase in productivity and the ability to come up with new ideas. In fact, many companies today have begun encouraging mindful practices within the workplace. Although it has proven challenging and has seen some resistance, the movement toward corporate mindfulness is definitely on the rise.
To be more mindful at work, try some of the following suggestions:
- Observe before you react. Allow situations to unfold completely. Gather information with clarity and purpose, but without judgement. This will allow you to react more calmly, effectively, and creatively.
- Window gaze. Ideally, take at least a 30 minute walk to be one with nature every single day. Identify with a particular tree and the way it moves in the breeze, or the brilliant colors of the flowers. Optionally, find a window and gaze out of it for at least 5 minutes to remind yourself that you’re part of a bigger universe than the walls that surround your desk.
- Hit the pause button. Transitions at work can be jarring and can destroy your focus. To avoid this effect, work at a steady pace and schedule breaks in between transitions so that you can give yourself time to decompress and find your center before the next meeting or event.
- Check yourself. If you need a reminder to check in with yourself during the day, download The Mindfulness App, or set an alarm or timer. At intervals of your choice, do a self-check during which you simply focus on your breathing and being in your body. Remember that you are a living, breathing person and not just a work drone!
- Humanize your coworkers. Recognize that everyone you work with is dealing with challenges every day, just as you are, and chances are good that all they really want is to be happy too. This will make it easier to interact with them, even if their behavior hasn’t always pleased you.
- Use the ‘three breaths’ technique. Anytime you’re ready to hit ‘Send’, ‘Save’, or ‘Publish’, take three slow deep breaths to clear your mind. Then revisit the email, memo, or article in order to verify that your intentions, words, and ideas are all in order and that they make sense.
If you’re a leader in your workplace, lead with mindfulness by keeping an eye on the big picture. By staying focused on yourself and the others on your team, you’ll have a much clearer idea of what is happening, why it is happening, and the decisions you need to make to be effective.
Mindfulness helps us gain clarity, achieve balance, and get more pleasure out of any situation or setting. On your journey toward living a more fulfilled life, remember to let your work persona in on the enjoyment, too.