Updated: Feb 22, 2019
According to 2017 study completed by Mental Health America, Inc., 81% reported workplace stress effected relationships with their family or friends and 63% reported workplace stress significantly impacted their mental health. The stress of our jobs might seem unavoidable, an accepted result of working because, judging by the statistics, most of us are suffering. But what if there were ways to cope with stress that made a positive impact in not only how we feel at work but our overall mental health as well? Mindfulness tools can be effective in coping with stress, and some can be easily adapted to fit seamlessly in our workday.
Below are 5 tools we can start using at work today:
1. Start the day with an intention.
Setting an intention is powerful. A daily intention isn’t a goal, but rather how you plan to approach our day. This tool is ideal for those of us who feel rushed in the morning; it takes about a minute to do and can benefit you the rest of the day. Right before beginning work, take a moment and think how you want to approach the day. An example of an intention that might be useful at work is “I intend to approach each task in my day with my full attention.” Writing down your intention so you can see it, perhaps on a post it note if possible, makes this tool even more powerful.
2. To Do Lists: How do you organize your day?
A key to mindfulness is focus, specifically focusing our attention on one task at a time. As much as we would like to believe we are able to multitask, our focus diminishes greatly as we add tasks. To encourage ourselves to focus on one task at a time, create a list. At the beginning of your workday, write down everything you hope to accomplish in the day. Keep this list where you can easily check things off as they are completed, and add to it as tasks arise.
3. Lunch is for eating.
Another mindfulness exercise is mindful eating, which is simply focusing on only eating when you are eating. How many of us eat lunch at our desks, staring at our computers, not even looking at our food as we put it in our mouths? Or eat quickly to get back to work? Or work through lunch, skipping it altogether? Nourishing our bodies is important to our physical and mental health. Try disconnecting from work and eating your lunch. Look at your food, taste your food, enjoy your food. Nourish your body and mind, and come back to work refreshed.
4. Breathing breaks.
Deep breathing can be very calming, and in times of stress we can find ourselves forgetting to breathe. Every few hours during the workday, give yourself a mini break and take three deep breathes. If it’s possible, you could even set a timer to go off every two hours to remind you to breathe.
5. Ending the day with reflection.
Do you find yourself ruminating about work after leaving for the day? Thinking about what you need to do tomorrow? Take a few minutes at the end of your day to reflect. You might start a to do list for tomorrow. Or, you might use a journal to write down notes or ideas. The aim is to finish work and be present for other activities.
Try these 5 mindfulness tools and notice how they change your workday. You may find the benefits continue far after your workday has ended.