The Mindful Office: 5 Simple Ways to improve your Well-being, reduce Work Stress and increase Productivity
Lucie, Octopus Personnel Recruitment Consultant, gives top tips to help increase your wellbeing and productivity in the office through being mindful.
From Google to the NHS and Transport for London, everyone is being mindful. Even Harvard Business School includes mindfulness principles in its leadership programmes. In fact, mindfulness fits seamlessly into the modern way of life – and business! People are much more conscious about looking after themselves in both a mental and physical capacity, and much more proactive in looking for ways to do so in everyday life.
What is mindfulness?
In its simplest form, mindfulness means awareness. Practising mindfulness offers a way to pay attention to the present moment. This awareness of ourselves and the world around us can improve our mental wellbeing.
Modern day living and work means we are constantly busy, constantly doing, where our minds are consciously and subconsciously busy remembering, reflecting and deliberating. This process can negatively impact our mood, with feelings of anxiety, depression or becoming stuck in a negative state of mind.
So, how can it help you?
Have you ever have so much on your plate that you don’t even have a free moment to appreciate your progress? When it comes to having a to-do list full of heavy-hitter items, you’re probably not the only one who feels more overwhelmed than accomplished. But, if it is getting to the point that every day is like that, then adding a little mindfulness to your schedule might be a solution for you!
Mindfulness can help to reduce stress and anxiety and conflict, and increase resilience and emotional intelligence, while improving communication in the workplace. Slowing down can feel against common sense, but in some ways, it’s the kind of recharging you need most to get even more done.
Slow down and be mindful to feel better and achieve more!
Mindfulness expert Mirabai Bush, famous for introducing the practise to Google, says:
“Introducing mindfulness into the workplace does not prevent conflict from arising or difficult issues from coming up. But when difficult issues do arise… they are more likely to be skillfully acknowledged, held, and responded to by the group. Over time with mindfulness, we learn to develop the inner resources that will help us navigate through difficult, trying, and stressful situations with more ease, comfort, and grace.”
There is no office in the land which couldn’t benefit from their employees being better able to handle the challenges of modern employment, so exploring mindful practise seems like a good idea!
How often do I need to do it?
Regular practice of mindfulness improves the brain’s function and ability to repair itself. However, the ‘use it or lose it approach’ we take to physical exercise also applies to our brains, so it’s important to practise regularly. Whilst it may feel difficult to fit that 10 minutes in each day, if you use my simple ideas below and add mindful practice to your calendar, you will soon be feeling the benefits!
Realistically, how can you be mindful in a busy office?
The Octopus Office is a hub of endeavour! The phone never stops; the team are flitting from desk to desk to collaborate and support each other; candidates are completing paperwork and being interviewed throughout the day; bake-offs, birthdays and general bustle; all this buzz might make mindfulness seem like an unattainable goal. However, with a few simple, practical skills, every office can become mindful.
1. Take Mindful Breaks
Focused breathing can do wonders for you in any situation. The most basic way to do mindful breathing is simply to focus your attention on your breath, the inhale and exhale. You can do this whilst making a cup of tea, or sitting at your desk. Pop your phone on do not disturb for 5 minutes and just notice your breath, inhale and exhale, gently bringing your attention back to your breath. Try some of these under-10-minute breathing exercises to ease your mood immediately.
2. Use Mindful Observation
This exercise is simple but incredibly powerful because it helps you notice and appreciate your environment. You can use this at your desk, on the way to work, or the way home. The exercise is designed to help you connect with the beauty of the natural environment.
- Choose a natural object from within your immediate environment and focus on watching it for a minute or two. This could be a flower or an insect, or even the clouds or a tree through the office window.
- Don’t do anything except notice the thing you are looking at. Simply relax into watching for as long as your concentration allows.
- Look at this object as if you are seeing it for the first time.
- Look at every aspect of its shape, and allow yourself to only focus on this.
- Allow yourself to connect with its relationship and purpose within the natural world.
3. Have a Mindful lunchtime
Just because you’re taking a break for lunch time doesn’t mean that isn’t still a good time to be connected with your surroundings. Eating consciously will make sure you’re not simply shovelling down everything mindlessly—which in turn means you won’t be crashing later.
Don’t eat when you’re feeling distracted, stressed or overwhelmed. Instead, sit down and take three deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth, and take a moment to be thankful for your food. Aim to eat when you can comfortably sit down to really enjoy your meals. Instead of eating in your car or at your desk, take a moment to sit down and bring all your focus and attention to the food. This can help you to consciously create the body and health that you truly desire.
4. Mindfully listen
This exercise is designed to open your ears to sound and to train your mind to be less swayed by distractions.
Select a piece of music you have never heard before. At the Octopus Office, we have an Alexa playing all the time, but you can use Youtube, your phone, whatever works for you. Personally, I love Chill FM! You may have something in your own collection that you have never listened to, or you might choose to turn the radio dial until something catches your ear.
- Close your eyes and put on your headphones.
- Try not to get drawn into judging the music by its genre, title or artist name before it has begun. Instead, just allow yourself to get lost in the journey of the song.
- Allow yourself to explore every aspect of track. Even if the music isn’t to your liking at first, let go of your dislike and just allow yourself to experience the music.
- Explore the song by listening to the difference between each instrument.
- Listen to the vocals: the sound of the voice, its range and tones. If there is more than one voice, separate them out as you did in step 4.
The idea is to listen carefully. Don’t think, just hear.
5. Take a Mindful Approach to Emails
Taking a moment to perform a short exercise before sending an email can be an easy way to lower your stress levels and integrate mindfulness into your everyday work life.
Before writing your email, stop and take three deep breaths, focusing on each inhale and exhale. You can repeat to yourself, “Breathing in, I thank the power of the Internet. Breathing out, I am fully conscious of my current email actions.” Then, complete your email, input your recipient and cc-recipient addresses, and click send on the email.
But I’m too busy to be mindful?
Feel like you can’t “schedule in” mindfulness? Science says taking breaks actually keeps you more on track for things to go as planned. So, next time you’re itching for a short walk or coffee break, listen to the urge. You will get more done in the long run!
Have I convinced you? What have you got to lose?
At Octopus Personnel, we take the well-being of our staff and candidates seriously. We are experts at presenting our candidates to ensure the employer is able to see all the skills and experience you are bringing to a role, but our support doesn’t stop there! Years of industry expertise, a healthy dose of mindfulness and outstanding relationships with our clients, and grasp of the needs of their business, means we are perfectly positioned within the market to guide you to your new role or to the right employee who will drive your business forward. You can sign up here and call the office on 01747 825568 to arrange an interview.