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6 Mindfulness Exercises for the Workplace to Reduce Stress and Increase Productivity

2022-07-07
6 Mindfulness Exercises for the Workplace to Reduce Stress and Increase Productivity

When it comes to the workplace, mindfulness exercises can be a key component of maintaining productivity and focus. Though it's often associated with practices like yoga and meditation, there are plenty of other ways to incorporate mindfulness into your workday. Often, you won't even need to leave the office or take a break. Here are six exercises to help get you started.

What Is Mindfulness Practice in the Workplace?

Mindfulness in the workplace promotes awareness of current thoughts, emotions, and behaviors whilst becoming more attuned to our own needs. It's a useful ability that anybody can learn. Mindfulness comes with a variety of advantages for both people and businesses.

Mindfulness Activities for the Workplace

It is becoming increasingly common to practice mindfulness exercises at work these days, with many companies hosting their own sessions for staff or bringing in expert facilitators. Here are some simple ways employees can maintain mindful focus without the need for instruction.

Walking Meditation

Walking is a great way to get some exercise and fresh air, and it can also be a form of meditation. When you walk mindfully, you pay attention to your breath and your surroundings, and let go of any thoughts or judgments. This can help you to focus on the present moment and reduce workplace stress.

If you don't have time for a lengthy walk, you can still reap the benefits by taking a few minutes to walk around the office. And don't worry if you can't perfectly silence your mind – the goal is simply to be present and aware of your surroundings.

Walking meditation can also help you to become more aware of your body and how it feels, which can be beneficial if you have a desk job and are not able to get up and move around as much as you would like. With regular practice, you may find that walking meditation helps you to feel more relaxed and more productive at work.

Deep Breathing

When work tensions are high, mindful breathing can be a huge help. Just take a deep, slow breath in through your nose, expanding your chest and belly. Hold for a few moments, then exhale slowly through your mouth. Repeat as needed.

You can do this simple exercise throughout times of high stress to help you regain clarity and calmness. Mindful breathing occupies your thoughts with something physical and calm, which can help you to feel more grounded and less reactive to whatever is going on around you. When you take a mindful breath, you are present with your body in the moment.

You can try following one of the breathing clocks on Yours app to get the right breath count for what you need. Some breathing exercises can calm the nervous system while others will boost your energy and flow.

From this mindful state, you can more easily make decisions that are in line with your values and goals. So, next time work stress starts to get the better of you, just take a few mindful breaths and see how much better you feel.

Body Scan

One simple way to maintain mindful focus is to pay attention to the sensations we feel across our whole body. This focus on the body is a form of mindfulness meditation called a 'body scan.' While it may seem like we are constantly aware of our bodies, there are actually many sensations that we miss or ignore. By aiming our undivided attention to our body, we can listen to what it needs.

The first step is to find a comfortable position. You can lie down or sit in a chair with your feet flat on the ground. Once you are settled, begin to focus your attention on your breath. Slowly inhale and exhale, allowing your thoughts to pass by without judgment. After a few minutes of focusing on your breath, begin to slowly scan your body from the top of your head to your feet.

Pay attention to any sensations you have, whether it be itchiness, tingling, warmth, or tightness. If you detect any areas of tension, focus on relaxing those muscle groups. The main goal here is not to fix anything but simply to become more aware of our sensations. With regular practice, you can then learn to release any tension that you may be holding onto in daily life.

Mindful Listening

Active listening is a mindful technique that allows you to focus all of your attention on the speaker and the message they are trying to convey. This might mean adjusting your body language, making eye contact, or asking clarifying questions. This can be helpful in a variety of professional settings, such as meetings or client interactions.

By actively listening, you can ensure that you understand what is being said and avoid any potential miscommunications. This way, you can ensure that you are getting the most out of every conversation.

Additionally, active listening can help you learn to focus your attention in a deliberate way and keep your reactions in check. By focusing solely on the facts being presented, you can avoid making any subjective interpretations that could cloud your judgment. Overall, active listening is a helpful tool that can improve your communication skills and help you to be more focused at work.

Mindful Immersion

It can be difficult to focus on one task at a time, especially when there are so many demands on our attention. However, mindful exercises can help us to be more present in the moment and better able to focus on a single activity. One way to try mindful exercise is to set aside a specific amount of time during your lunch break to focus exclusively on eating. This is referred to as "mindful eating."

Turn off your phone and any other electronics, and try to pay attention only to the sensual experience of eating – the taste, texture, and smell of the food. Not only will this help you to appreciate your food more, but it may also help you to eat more slowly and mindfully. It can also help a person avoid overeating. As a result, you’ll be better able to focus on the rest of your workday.

Additionally, some people may find fast-paced movements the easiest to get immersed in, such as jogging or going to the gym at lunch. Exercising like this is a full-body experience - focusing on breathing properly and moving the body can help to clear the mind and move past emotional blockages. This can be especially effective for people who sit in an office all day.

Mindful Stretching

Stretching is a simple exercise that can help improve mindfulness at work, and it has numerous benefits for both physical and psychological health. It involves taking a few minutes to focus on your breath and stretch your body.

Mindful stretching can include long stretches, short yoga poses, or slow swaying to loosen joints. Some poses can be done whilst seated at a desk, and some take very little time or energy to reap the benefits. The main condition is that the person focuses solely on the sensations of the movement.

This can help to reduce tension and increase energy levels. Furthermore, mindfully stretching throughout daily life can help to improve posture and alleviate back pain. It can also lead to improved productivity and focus at work. Thus, stretching is a beneficial exercise that can be done at work or elsewhere throughout the day.

What Are the Benefits of Doing Mindfulness Exercises?

Mindfulness exercises boost our wellbeing and self-compassion. They can reduce anxiety in our jobs, help us to remain focused, and generally boost our ability to do mindful work.

Professor Mark Williams, the former director of the Oxford Mindfulness Center, explains, "Most of us have issues that we find hard to let go and mindfulness can help us deal with them more productively. We can ask: Is trying to solve this by brooding about it helpful, or am I just getting caught up in my thoughts? Awareness of this kind also helps us notice signs of stress or anxiety earlier and helps us deal with them better."

What Physical Activities Are Used to Practice Mindfulness?

As mentioned, in the office we can use yoga or swaying movements - whatever works best within the premises. However, any physical movement can boost mindfulness so long as the person consciously focuses on the movements and feelings.

Is it Expensive to Implement Mindfulness Exercises for the Workplace?

Not at all, as most people can carry out these exercises without supervision. However, a workplace can better support its employees' mindfulness journeys by investing in a wellbeing program. This will keep employees motivated and boost the outcome.

What Styles of Music Are Good for Practicing Mindfulness Exercises?

This depends on individual taste. Some may enjoy classical piano to relax into a deep yoga stretch whilst others may need drum and bass to get pumped up for a jog on their lunch break. It's best to think about what effect you're looking for and find something you like that will optimize your mood. Anything goes, as long as it's right for you.