Practicing Mindfulness at Work Made Easy
Mindfulness” and “Corporate Office” are not often two phrases that you hear paired together. But I’m here to tell you that it IS possible to practice mindfulness at work. In fact, it’s actually quite easy.
Once you become aware of your thoughts, actions, and surroundings, you can begin to shift your mindset about practicing mindfulness at work. Remember, mindfulness is an ongoing and personal practice to work on daily. There is no right or wrong way to practice mindfulness at work, but there are a few steps to help you have a more balanced and mindful day at work.
Create a positive environment with thoughts, words, and actions
Work can often be a place where people gather around the water cooler to share gossip about one another or moan about senior leadership’s latest presentation. It’s long been known by research that “negative emotions program your brain to do a specific action” and can “narrow your mind and focus your thoughts” (1).
Try not to feed into the downward spiral of shared negativity, but rather invite your peers and colleagues to see what’s happening from a different perspective, through thoughtful mindfulness.
In one such study, a meditation test group was invited to “cultivate the intention to experience positive emotions” and “[direct] one’s emotions toward warm and tender feelings in an open-hearted way” (2). They were asked to direct these warm feelings “on their heart region” and to think about a close loved one, or a “person for whom they...feel warm and tender feelings [towards]” (2). Then, they were asked to “extend these warm feelings first to themselves” followed by extending this feeling to “an ever-widening circle of others” (2). This is also known as the Broaden and Build Theory, as “positive emotions broaden your sense of possibilities and open your mind, which in turn allows you to build new skills and resources that can provide value in other areas of your life” (3, 1).
By opening your heart to others and spreading positive and optimistic energy, thoughts, and actions around you, others near you may become influenced and inspired by your positive vibrations as well.
Take breaks in nature
When we spend all day cooped up in our corporate office environment, we forget that poor lighting is “associated with a range of ill-health effects, both physical and mental, such as eye strain, headaches, fatigue and also stress and anxiety in more high-pressured work environments” (4). In addition to poor lighting, it is often cited that “the lack of natural sunlight has an adverse effect on the body and the mind, and can result in conditions such as seasonal affective disorder (SAD)” (4).
If you are feeling anxious, stressed, or in a not-so-great mood, take a few moments to slowly, calmly and deeply breathe -- and then go for a walk outside in nature. Researchers have found that “those who did a nature walk had lower activity in the prefrontal cortex, a brain region that is active during rumination — defined as repetitive thoughts that focus on negative emotions” (5).
By spending time outdoors in natural lighting, breathing in clean, fresh air, and connecting deeper with Mother Earth, we can practice mindfulness in just a few short moments outside of our cubicles.
It may seem like a chore to go outside during a busy day, but trust me - even just 5 minutes walking around the block, or sitting on your favourite bench in the park at lunch will exponentially lift your mood. Even if you live in an urban environment, find a tree, park, or open space to spend time in, even if just to pause and deeply breathe for a few deep breaths.
This may be one of the more difficult principles to implement for some, but can always be incrementally practiced throughout the day.
Practicing detachment does not mean you are indifferent or do not care -- it simply means creating boundaries that protect you, your energy, and your mindfulness practice.
In your mindfulness journey, practicing detachment could look like not being attached to an outcome of a presentation or execution of a deadline. Sure, we understand life happens and there are certain expectations to meet, but it is also understanding that you are simply human. You can practice detachment by not being married or so attached to the outcome of a situation.
Detachment can also look like leaving the office on time to make space for yourself at that workout class you’ve been wanting to try, or having dinner on time with your loved ones. It can also look like not checking your work emails or talking about work when not in the office.
All in all, practicing mindfulness with your corporate office job is not all that challenging of a practice, once you become aware of your thoughts, actions and energy! Take time to sit, meditate and find out what you need in your life to balance your personal and corporate life in your mindful journey.
1. Clear, J. The Science of Positive Thinking: How Positive Thoughts Build Your Skills, Boost Your Health, and Improve Your Work, 2017.
2. Frederickson, B. Open Hearts Build Lives: Positive Emotions, Induced Through Loving-Kindness Meditation, Build Consequential Personal Resources, 2008.
3. Frederickson, B. The broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions, 2004.
4. Dr. Pragya, A. How Does Lighting Affect Mental Health In The Workplace, 2018.
5.Harvard Men's Health Watch. Sour mood getting you down? Get back to nature, 2018.
About the author Josie Ng
Josie Ng is a certified yoga teacher, Reiki practitioner and holistic health coach in training. She helps the modern day human to become the best version of themselves — by bringing the Mind, Body, and Spirit, into happy harmony. Currently residing on the beautiful island of Hong Kong, you will often find her making friends with every stray kitty on the street, stretching at the local yoga studio, or eating her way throughout whichever country she finds herself in.
Josie writes on different health-related topics, always from the heart, with the aim to make your health journey more fun, mindful, ánd simple.