HdK Associates

How to be mindful at work

Mindfulness is a mental state that involves living in the present, staying in tune with our surroundings and being more aware of our thoughts, feelings and actions. Sarah practises mindfulness in and out of the office, advocating that being ‘mindful’ in the workplace increases productivity, focus and overall well being – as recommended by experts!

I actively encourage the HdK team to be mindful to avoid stress and create a relaxed and creative office environment, so today I’m sharing with you my 6 tips to remaining mindful at work. You may not be able to put all these into practise instantly, but just being more aware of your body and mind throughout the working day will help increase positivity and decrease stress levels.

1. Pause and breathe
At the beginning of the day, take a moment to pause and observe. Whether this is at home before you start the day or at your desk in the morning, take a couple of deep breaths, observing your surroundings and how your body is feeling that morning. You might feel silly or unproductive but these two minutes can help you break out of unproductive habits and pave the way to a more creative, focused day.

2. Get to know your body
The next time you have a negative experience – an awkward conversation or a challenging meeting – take a moment to observe how your body reacts. Do you clam up, tense your shoulders? Does your temperature rise? Just being aware of your physical responses can help you to reduce unnecessary bodily tension and help you to develop a more positive physical response over time. It might be that you make small adjustments to your day based on these responses. If a phone call makes you feel tense, have a little walk around the office or make a tea. This way you’ll return to working mode feeling refreshed and relaxed.

3. Practise non-judgemental observation of others
We tend to fall into a critical, auto-pilot mindset at work. Perhaps the office is chattering loudly or someone suggests an idea that you think is tried and tested. Avoiding critical observation takes practise but it’s one of the most effective ways to turn off auto-pilot, replace critical thinking with healthy debate and ultimately get to know your colleagues better.

4. Practise non-judgemental observation of self
Number 3 can be applied to yourself too. The more you train your mind to find fault in your actions or decisions, the more you’ll build self-doubt or stress. You probably find, like us all, you learn more from your negative experiences while not learning enough from your positive ones. Gain a more balanced perspective by making sure any accomplishments in your day are acknowledged, rewarded and learnt from. Every tick on your to-do list is a positive achievement!

5. Encourage mindfulness amongst colleagues
Has your colleague been working flat out without taking a lunch break? Are they working on a stressful task and they seem tense? Make them a tea or encourage them to take a minute out. If all team members feel comfortable to take a walk or have a brain break when they’re out of focus, they can return to their desks with a refreshed sense of purpose and concentration. Not only does this help to reduce tensions, it also improves team spirit and builds on working relationships.

6. Practise radical acceptance
Did you spend two hours procrastinating and then spend time punishing yourself mentally? Or did you make a mistake at work and spend your lunchtime mulling over it? Reflection is healthy but agonising over performance is a waste of time and for the purpose of mindfulness, experts recommend focusing on the present and simply acknowledging the reality of what has happened. Radical acceptance involves learning from a negative experience and moving on with a positive outlook.

That’s all for today. As I said, a lot of these tips take practise and focus, so it’s a case of being aware of mindfulness and how it can benefit you. One thing to remember: allow yourself permission to pause.

Thanks for reading!

Stay mindful. HdK