Using mindfulness in your work, whether you work in an office or on your feet, helps you focus without getting stressed and boosts your mental health.
You probably spend more of your waking time with your colleagues than with your family and friends, so how you feel and behave at work can really affect your health and wellbeing.
Research has led large companies such as Google, Facebook and Intel to offer mindfulness and meditation sessions to employees.
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At its most basic, mindfulness is awareness. By recognising your emotions at work and processing them, you can concentrate on the task and connect with what you’re doing, working at your full ability.
Multi-tasking actually has a detrimental effect on the work you do. Our brains are made to focus on one job at a time and trying to concentrate on more than one task at once can leave us feeling stressed out!
How to keep your focus at work and concentrate on one task at a time
It can be easy to jump around between tasks when you’re at work, meaning that none of them get your full attention.
You may become anxious about managing your workload, but there are lots of ways to improve your concentration at work and ensure that you get everything done.
Try keeping a journal of your time
Keep track of how long you spend on each task. Were you concentrating on one task or multi-tasking without being aware of it? How mindful were you at the time?
How did you feel?
Make a note of when you were concentrating on one task and think about how you felt at the time. Reminding yourself of the benefits will help to make it a regular habit.
Group similar tasks together
Setting aside a block of time for phone calls or emails, or another specific task, can help you to focus on one thing at a time.
When you’re trying to focus on a task, try to minimise your distractions by switching off your emails and devices so that you’re not tempted to multi-task at the same time.
Take a few moments to be mindful
Try to fit in a mindful exercise whenever you can – even if it’s just a quick stretch or a mindful walk.
How to declutter your desk
If you work at a desk, try to clear your belongings and paperwork. If you have small items that you use often throughout the day, such as pens and notepads, place them in a box.
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How can I stay present and mindful in meetings?
When you’re in a work meeting, don’t take your phone or laptop with you. Respect your colleagues, and concentrate fully on what the other people are saying – if thoughts about your home life or evening plans wander into your brain, acknowledge them but consciously put them aside.
It may take more effort, but it removes the wasted time catching up on what you’ve missed after the meeting, and checking that you absorbed all the relevant information.
You can also take a few deep breaths to ground yourself before or during a meeting, to remind yourself to focus and stay present.
How to build better work relationships
Communication is essential to strong relationships, and that’s equally true at work as in your personal life. Make the effort to listen to your colleagues’ anecdotes about their lives outside work.
Empathy and being a good listener will help you to bond with your work colleagues and make you seem more approachable.
Your improved mood will have a knock-on effect on your colleagues too and help to create a better working environment for everyone.
How to cope with back pain at your desk
If you work at a desk you’re much more likely to suffer from musculoskeletal problems, also known as repetitive strain injuries – our bodies aren’t designed to sit for long periods of time.
Try to sit up straight – leaning back in your chair or slouching forwards puts strain on your lower back, so you need to keep your spine in the proper alignment. If you feel uncomfortable in your seat try rotating your hips forwards, backwards and side-to-side while you’re sitting. You should also use a foot rest if your feet don’t touch the floor, as the weight of your dangling legs puts more strain on your back.
Hunching your shoulders can also cause pain in your shoulders or wrists, so try a Buddha stretch every half hour of typing or using a mouse. Put your palms together in front of you, in a prayer pose, and then gently move your elbows outwards and lower your hands, so you feel a good stretch in your wrists.
To relieve pain in your neck, keep your head level and slowly push your chin forwards as far as possible, then pull your head backwards. You should feel a stretch in the back of your lower neck.
Try this exercise when you start feeling stiff and tense at your desk:
- Clasp hands behind your back.
- Push the chest outward, and raise the chin.
- Hold the pose for 10 to 30 seconds.
Photos by Melinda Pack, Andrew Neel, Brooke Lark and Joseph Pearson on Unsplash.