How to practice mindfulness in the workplace

What is mindfulness?

You’ve probably heard of it. You probably already have an image in your head of someone sitting cross legged, eyes closed and chanting “OM” … but modern mindfulness comes in all shapes and sizes. Proclaimed as the best way to become self-away and increase self compassion, deal with daily anxieties or worries and accept the present moment, mindfulness exercises have become all the rage. But, what’s all the fuss about? How can this actually help in the workplace? And what are some tips for getting started?

Mindfulness meditation is often described as the state of being conscious or aware of the present moment and your thoughts and feelings. Basically, it’s an excellent tool for managing your mental health, reducing stress and it can even have a positive impact on all facets of your life.

mindfulness in the office tips - breathe sign

7 steps to being mindful at work

Good news, mindfulness doesn’t need to be complicated! There are so many ways to engage in mindfulness at work. Simply by focusing on the breath and paying attention to the present moment can help with those frustrating interactions, piling to-do lists and seemingly not enough hours in the work day. From setting up good routines, relieving commuting stresses and why ordering something delicious for the office can help. This is your how to guide on developing mindfulness in the workplace and getting the most out of your work day.

1. It all starts the night before

In the hour before bed, 95% of people say they use their phone for something, whether it’s to watch a movie, send a text or browse the web. Going to bed with gadgets doesn’t just wake you up, it makes it harder to fall asleep. Exposure to blue light from electronic displays suppresses those good sleep hormones, like melatonin, by about 22%. This means it’s taking you longer to get to sleep, you might wake up more in the night and even wake earlier.

Regular sleep interruptions and late nights are associated with stress and depressive symptoms, so that’s good reason to put down the gadgets just an hour before sleep. Pop on “do not disturb” mode and sleep tight. Even better, why not try a guided meditation to help you fall asleep? 

2. Rise and shine!

Did you know that 35% of respondents in this report say their first thought in the morning is their phone, while just 10% said it was their significant other? Resisting the urge to grab your phone first thing (after you turn your alarm off) can set the tone for the day. Instead of checking emails or scrolling through your social feeds, try and take a moment to just relax into the morning and wake up on the right side of the bed. Notice your breath and release any bubbling worries about the day ahead. Nobody ever feels good after checking their emails at 6am.

mindfulness in the office - fresh coffee

3. Commuting consciously

The beautiful thing about mindfulness is that it can be done anywhere you can feel your mind wandering. Based on the Australian Bureau of Statistics research, Aussies spend on average 90 minutes a day commuting to and from work. This equals to an estimated over 300 hours a year commuting. As we all know, commuting can be a major cause of stress. From packed train stations, traffic jams, bad drivers or rude public transport participants, it can be easy to quickly feel frustrated and fatigued. That’s more than 300 hours a year we spend upset, when we could instead try and use a little of this time for good and healthy habits.

Next time you’re stuck in traffic or shoulder to shoulder with others on a cramped train at 5pm - just focus on your breath. Feel your chest rise and fall, while letting your frustrations go with each exhale. Take a moment to think about the things you are grateful for that day and realise, you’ll be home in the next ten minutes.

4. Mindful eating

Practicing mindfulness at work can manifest in a lot of different ways. Whether it’s taking a moment away from your computer screen, taking a walk or eating mindfully. Did you know more than half of all Australians skip breakfast? This can not only bring on lack of concentration, loss of focus and lowered productivity, but also low moods. By simply providing staff with breakfast options in the office pantry or a catered breakfast every so often, you’re helping your staff (and yourself) step into the day on the right foot.

Food is a tool that is used all over the world for bringing people together and fostering positive connections. So, why not introduce that into your workplace? Whether it’s a working lunch or even a corporate event, mindful eating at work can increase productivity and boost morale. Supplying food at work, whether it’s healthy snacks, a staff lunch or even just spontaneous sweet treats, is one of the best ways to marry mindfulness and the workplace. It can also make all the difference to encouraging healthy workplace eating habits.

Eating together as a team holds plenty of benefits in itself; from encouraging strong workplace connections and supporting healthier habits, sharing food is a great way to induce positive emotions and being mindful at work. Check out the best foods for sharing with your team!

5. Meeting management

We’ve all been there. Stuck in a long meeting, going between staring at the middle distance or dreaming of all your delicious lunch options… will you have Mexican food or sushi today?...
Wait no. Back to the meeting.

Research has shown 91% of meeting attendees spend most of their time daydreaming, while 73% get on with other work. By developing a few simple mindful practices for those dreaded long meetings, you can steer clear of distracting thoughts and focus on the task.

Here are some tips for staying mindful in a meeting:

  • Listen when someone is talking: don’t pick up your phone, open your laptop or stare out the window. Actively listen to the person talking.
  • Try not to multitask: No devices, no aimlessly scrolling through your social media! Leave distractions out of reach and keep your attention focused.

Tips for running a mindful meeting:

  • State the meeting intentions: if you’re leading the meeting, share the agenda, goals and the topics you’ll go over. Setting the intentions early gives people a chance to start on the same page and keep focused.
  • Recap the meeting: spending just a few minutes going over the decisions made brings people back into the present moment.

6. One thing at a time

Keeping a to-do list is fantastic! But not when it starts to overwhelm you just by looking at it. Lists piling upon lists and seemingly never-ending tasks are a sure-fire way to induce anxiety. Avoidance and procrastination are sure to follow. Instead of freaking out about what you need to do, why not take just a minute or two to focus on your breath. Our minds at work like to trick themselves into thinking there simply are not enough hours in the day, but just think: you can accomplish so much in just one hour. You’ll be ok. Mindfulness works by grounding our minds and encouraging healthy and productive thought patterns.

mindfulness in the office tips - to do list

7. Don't forget to take a break

It’s all too easy to get overwhelmed during the workday. Whether you have a presentation coming up, a meeting with a new client or you’ve just taken on another few tasks you don’t really have time for… just take a break, go for a walk, practice self compassion and focus on something other than work for half an hour. Research shows not only can taking a break improve your engagement at work, it also does wonders for reducing daily stresses. Getting out of the office and taking a walk will also give you a bonus creativity boost and improved mental wellbeing.

How to be mindful at work: a guide

Check out these steps on how to incorporate mindfulness into your busy workplace with ease.

An infographic guide to mindfulness in the workplace

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Ready to treat your team to something uplifting?

Getting a delivery of cupcakes, a surprise Friday night drinks and platter or a staff lunch is an excellent way of lifting the spirits of your team. Corporate catering services like Order-In make treating the team a breeze, with office catering deliveries across Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra, Perth, Newcastle, Wollongong, the Gold Coast and Adelaide.

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