I meditate in my office. I have a tea corner. I grow plants. To my current coworkers, I am very conscious about my mental well-being while at work. However, I did not always consider the office a place where I could practice mindfulness and take an active role in my mental well-being. Taking mental health days is just the tip of the iceberg. I am sharing 10 practical ways to embrace mindfulness, focus on wellness, and maintain your mental well-being while in the office.
Instead of diving straight into piles of paperwork or emails after the morning rush hour, take a moment to ease into your workday focused and relaxed. For example, my morning ritual consists of watering my plants, brewing a fresh cup of loose-leaf tea, and reading a short devotional. I sip my tea, listen to peaceful gospel or classical music as I eat breakfast, and prioritize my to-do list. A simple morning ritual when you arrive in the office is the perfect way to control how you start your workday.
When working primarily behind a computer screen, our bodies build up tension. Shoulders. Neck. Legs. Eyes. The stress and stiffness can even lead to pain. Try these desk stretches or desk yoga poses when you are starting to feel tense or just need a boost of energy. Don’t forget to relax your eyes by following the 20–20–20 rule.
Working hard is a psychological cost, especially when working on tedious or complex tasks. You will get tired, lose your ability to think creatively and start making more mistakes without taking breaks. Many fool ourselves into thinking we are too busy to take breaks. We aren’t. Breaks are necessary to improve attention, increase energy, and retain information. Try using the Pomodoro Method to increase your productivity by working on one task for 25- minutes and taking a 5-minute non-work-related break. Pivot between focused working periods and short breaks. Every 4th cycle, take a 20–30 minute break.
If you are like me, you may have the tendency to overfill your to-do list and find yourself dissatisfied or overwhelmed by the number of items remaining that will spill over into the next day. If left unchecked, this can become a vicious cycle of feeling like you are playing catch-up more often than not. By utilizing the Pomodoro Method I mentioned earlier, you will learn how long specific tasks will take you to complete. After learning this intel about yourself, you can effectively schedule the tasks you prioritized during your morning routine between meetings.
In a nutshell, multitasking is not just inefficient but also stressful! Switching your focus back and forth from one task and its objectives to another can cost you up to 40% productivity time. Coupled with your to-do list (see above), this can lead you back down the path into the vicious cycle of feeling like you are continuously playing catch up.
The beauty of meditation is this. You can literally meditate anywhere, almost at any time. Learning to meditate is simple: just breathe and pay attention to the rhythm of your breath. An easy way to get started with meditation or breathwork in the office is by creating a sign that reads “Meditation in Progress” and placing it on your office door or your cubicle. Set aside 1 minute or even 5–10 minutes to yourself. Take a moment to note how you are currently feeling, without judgment, and then just breathe. One of my favorite apps for guided meditations is Headspace.
In a previous job, during the busier seasons, I found myself often unable to fall asleep because my mind was racing about what I needed to accomplish at work. I even had the occasional vivid dream about work! I ultimately decided I needed to create better barriers between my work life and home life. My first step was removing emails from my phone. Not all of us are fortunate to have a job where your boss is okay with waiting for your reply until the next working day. If this is your current situation, you can still create barriers between work and home life by making rules about when, where, and how you are willing to work while at home. For instance, no working in the bedroom. Another is no working from 6 to 8 PM, and all work ceases by 10 PM.
While creating boundaries for work outside of the office, it is equally important to create an environment in which we are comfortable while at work. Therefore, you should not be afraid to show your personality and add personal touches to make your office feel more like a home away from home. I have plenty of plants in my office, a painting, pictures of my spouse and me, and an accent lamp. Bring elements into your office that will contribute to your happiness, creativity, focus, and relaxation.
I currently work in an office that hosts quarterly wellness activities for employees in the various departments we work closely with. One quarter we took a morning stroll outside. In another quarter, we painted during lunch. Quarterly wellness activities for the office are a great way to get to know your coworkers and a fantastic way to start introducing wellness into your office culture.
Talking to your boss about your mental health or even utilizing a mental health day can be difficult. However, it can also be one of the most important conversations you will have during your career with your boss.
Also published on Teamblind’s blog