If you struggle to focus, find yourself easily stressed, and have a hard time relaxing and letting go of racing thoughts, it’s a sure sign it’s your mind that needs to be taken care of. The mind can be compared to a hard drive – constantly reading, recording and storing information. But unlike a computer or a mobile device that warns you when you’re out of space, our mind doesn’t really send out such signals directly, but rather starts having unexpected errors throughout the mind and body system.
Just as you need to clean the storage space for your device to run smoothly, you need to take care of your headspace as well. The key to a healthy and focused mind lies in different approaches and practices, encompassed in one term – mindfulness.
What is mindfulness?
There are still a lot of misinterpretations of the term “mindfulness”, and some people think it is something unattainable, a practice that requires hard dedication, a yoga mat, incense sticks, and maybe some sounds of gong in the background.
In fact, mindfulness happens when we simply pay attention to our thoughts and feelings of the body and mind without judging them. There are many benefits of practicing such a simple state of mind, from increased focus to even alleviating feelings of anxiety and depression. Therefore, practicing mindfulness for office workers can actually be the way to increasing performance and avoiding burnout. Mindfulness exercises, therefore, are much like stretching before the gym – they play a pretty crucial role in preparing your mind for high-performance tasks.
Mindfulness in the office?
You might think that it could be much easier to practice mindfulness if you were to live in a picturesque cabin overlooking a beautiful lake and your only daily job was to pet dogs. And you’re right. Sure, it’s much harder to maintain a clear and focused state of mind, when you’re pulled into the hustle and bustle routine of the city. However, that does not prevent you from being a master of mindfulness. In fact, many successful entrepreneurs believe that meditation plays a super important part in their routines that allows them to perform so well in their daily tasks.
Here at Luxafor, we compiled the 7 best tried and tested mindfulness exercises that are very simple, yet very powerful in increasing your focus at the office, your mental and physical abilities and your job performance as well, meanwhile simply making you a happier person.
7 best mindfulness exercises at the office
1. Mindful attention
A great introductory exercise to mindfulness is this simple exercise of focusing all your attention on one particular food of choice. It can work with anything, but it’s best if the food has an interesting texture, a particular smell or taste, for example, raisins or almonds – a popular healthy office snack. Pretend as if you have never seen an almond before, and for a few minutes pay careful attention to the way the almond looks, the way it feels in your fingers, its smell, and its taste. For that very moment, your mind is paying all attention to this ordinary object and is not expending energy on worrying or ruminating about other parts of your life.
The benefit of it is that you teach your mind to be absolutely present. When you actively take notice of such ordinary things, not only you start seeing the beauty in it, but it also becomes much easier to focus on anything that is in front of you.
2. Active listening
Another way of training your focus is active listening. This is a skill that will serve you well in all areas of your life, not only at the office. We’ve all been bored in business meetings and that’s when we start secretly drifting away in our own thoughts, not participating, not being there at all. This exercise is about the opposite. Even if the speaker is not addressing the issue that’s particularly relevant to you, practice active listening purely for the sake of your mindfulness.
Now, listen and really pay your attention to what the speaker is saying. Avoid distractions like glancing at your phone – be interested in each and every word they are saying. Also, make sure the person you’re talking to knows that you’re giving them your undivided attention. You can do this by maintaining eye contact and nodding, smiling, or shaking your head at appropriate times to signal your attentiveness. Ask questions and provide other verbal cues to show that you’re following along and that you’re interested. Avoid the temptation to interrupt and correct a statement that you disagree with – let the person finish talking before you respond.
Active listening is one of the best ways you can incorporate mindfulness into your workday at the office that will train your focus, help your performance at work and also improve your work relationships.
3. Mindful breaks
We all know that we should take a little break after working, especially if we’re doing active computer work. Although this should be a no-brainer, millions of people somehow forget to do just that, and neglect their need of taking little breaks off the screen, rest their eyes and their legs. It’s a fact that your brain does get a little foggy after too much time on one task and from there your productivity and ability to focus quickly drops. Taking breaks can help you maintain that state of mindfulness by giving your brain a little break to reset. Practice mindfulness by taking short breaks at your desk (without checking your phone!), try closing your eyes, watering the plants, doodling something, or even going for a walk for a few minutes. To maintain a work-break timing balance, you can try any of these 11 free Pomodoro Technique apps or simply use a physical Pomodoro countdown timer to alert you of the start of your break.
Taking short breaks in your workday can help your brain better digest information, and when you return to a task after a short break you will feel refreshed and with a renewed sense of focus.
4. Mindful seeing
While you’re taking a break, try this simple mindfulness exercise. The only thing you need for this is a window with some kind of a view. Find a space where you can comfortably observe the sights for the next 5-10 minutes, and simply rest your eyes by looking at the objects nearby and in the distance. Look at everything there is to see, observe the colors, the shapes, the patterns and textures. However, the key to this exercise is to refrain from labeling or categorizing what you see – instead of naming the objects in your mind as “bird” or “stop sign”, or judging them as good or bad, simply observe the look of them. Pay attention to the movement of people, grass, or leaves in the breeze – be aware of what you see. Remember that it’s normal to be distracted by your own thoughts, and if so, gently pull your mind away from those thoughts and focus on the view.
The benefit of this exercise is, again, training your mind to focus on what’s ahead of you, plus it helps you accept the things you see just as they are without the need to label them or judge them anyway. Eventually, it helps you to accept your thoughts and behaviors with a sense of calm as well.
5. Mindful appreciation
Mindful appreciation is a simple exercise that you can easily incorporate in your schedule and maybe even make a habit that will help you feel more content through your workday. Take 5 minutes in the morning or 5 minutes just before bedtime to think about everything in your daily life that you normally take for granted, but that makes your life better in any way. It can be just as trivial as thinking about your favorite coffee, your cozy sweater, the pretty plants on your desk or that beautiful watch you earned with your own salary. Appreciate having your pets, your kids, your friends or your significant other being there for you. Just think about these things and what they add to your life, and it’s even better if you put them down on paper in one sentence. Did you know that Office Hero, our productivity planner for mindful daily scheduling and journaling, also includes a specific part for daily gratitude?
This exercise will definitely help you focus on the best parts of your life, and, once practiced enough, will significantly improve your overall happiness. Adopt it as a mindset, and you’ll feel the change within you.
6. Mindful breathing
This meditation technique is perfect for those who are getting acquainted with mindfulness and meditation. Mindful breathing is a simple exercise and a great way to start your day and get rid of any stress when the day is over. You only need a few minutes for this and it can easily become a simple but exhilarating break in between tasks.
Devote some time to nothing but your breathing, close your eyes, breathe in slowly, taking about three seconds to draw a breath, and then exhale slowly. Breathe in through your nose and exhale through your mouth. While you’re at it, don’t think about anything except your breathing. Feel your muscles, the way your chest area expands and contracts as you breathe. When you feel your mind wanting to turn to thoughts about your daily things, gently leave them alone and dedicate your focus to the movements of your breath. Start with doing two or three minutes of mindful breathing and work your way up to sessions of five to ten minutes. If you need, put on some ambient music in your headphones or a soothing white noise, like rainfall or ocean sounds.
Mindful breathing is a very good introduction to meditation, and it’s a fairly simple way to incorporate meditation and mindfulness into your daily routine. Meditation might be one of the best ways to relax while on a break at the office, and the benefits of doing it daily are numerous
7. Mindful immersion
Mindful immersion is a workplace mindfulness exercise that is closely tied to improving your focus. In fact, it is simply an exercise of focus that helps you achieve a flow state. Very often, when we’re doing something at the office, we’re actually having lots of different thoughts in our heads, thus being constantly distracted by worrying about deadlines, emails, push notifications, an important meeting ahead or the fact that we have to do the task at hand as quickly as possible. This creates unnecessary pressure on yourself, makes you stressed and anxious, and more prone to making errors.
When you practice mindful immersion, you let go of everything except the feeling of the tasks you’re engaged in at the moment. Instead of being distracted by your thoughts, savor the moment. Make a conscious decision to focus on what you’re doing. Treat the task at hand as if nothing else matters, as if it is the most important task in the Universe. Turn off your phone and email notifications, and avoid looking at the clock. Enjoy the sensations of what you’re doing at the moment, and don’t allow your mind to wander towards anything else. If it does wander, don’t punish yourself – instead, refocus or take a quick break for a small mindful seeing or breathing exercise.
By using mindful immersion, you’ll enjoy a feeling of being content in the moment while also achieving a higher level of focus. Practicing this exercise throughout your workday can reduce your anxiety level as well.
The office may not be the most mindful environment, as it does present many challenges for practicing mindfulness, like the disturbing noise and constant office chatter. But it shouldn’t stop you from taking care of your mental hygiene, especially, if you’re starting to feel like you’re underperforming, suffering from anxiety and close to a burnout. However, if you do feel like it’s difficult for you to incorporate mindfulness exercises into your busy office routine, we might have a solution for that.
If you are constantly bothered by your coworkers’ interactions that make it hard for you to achieve that flow state and take a break by yourself, Luxafor Flag can become your solution for practicing mindfulness exercises without interruptions.
We created Luxafor Flag for people like you, who want to train their focus and become more productive in the office environment. By simply switching the color of the LED light, you can indicate whether you’re busy-busy (like, really into mindful immersion) or busy taking a mindful break to clear your mind. Plus, you can customize its light, patterns, and signals, according to any other needs.
We really hope this article provided you with useful information on how mindfulness exercises can help you perform better in your workplace, enhance your focus, increase your productivity and make you a happy and satisfied person. We also hope you’ll find the best way how to incorporate these techniques into your daily routine and achieve that higher state of mind!