By Alyssa Pfennig, CAE, RYT 500, president, YogaExec
Mindfulness is getting a lot of attention lately in the corporate world. Yet, all the information that’s out there might seem overwhelming. You have to start somewhere, so below are a variety of simple, mindful strategies you can you begin incorporating into your daily life.
- Begin each day with a few mindful breaths. Does your alarm go off and you’re immediately ready to take on the day? Or do you wake up dreading the thought of going to work? No matter what state you’re in, everyone can benefit by starting their day with a few mindful breaths. It’s easy. Before getting out of bed, just breathe in and out and place your attention on the air coming in and out of your nose or the rise and fall of your belly. It’s a great beginning!
- Drive to work in silence. Have you ever driven to work and completely forgotten the drive? Scary, right? This is called being on autopilot and many of us go through much of our lives in this state. Why not put your phone on silent, turn off your radio and focus on the road? Just try it and see how it feels.
- Find a quiet place for lunch. And your desk doesn’t count. I know many companies do not have adequate break rooms, so be creative and find an empty office, an empty conference room or if it’s nice, go outside. Really notice your hunger level and pay attention to each bite. Too often we inhale our food without a second thought and then we’re surprised when indigestion hits or it shows up on our hips.
- Don’t text or email while walking. Don’t deny it: We’ve all done this. I bet you chew gum and walk at the same time too. Multi-tasking is an illusion, so before you accidentally body check another co-worker in the hallway, leave your phone at your desk while attending meetings and at lunch. Your bruised co-worker and your brain will thank you.
- Review the day’s events at the close of the day. Guess what? Your inbox will never be empty. Instead of resisting reality and fretting over it all evening while at home with your family, take some time at the end of each day to check things off your list and prepare a shortlist of “to-do’s” for the next day. This simple technique will not only help you realize how much you accomplished that day, but it will help you focus and prevent work stresses from spilling into your home life.
- Dedicate 30 minutes each week for thinking time. It’s a frightening fact, but most of us have to pencil in time for ourselves. In addition to self-care, we need time for our brains to be creative in order to discover and innovate. Janice Marturano calls this “open space” in her book, Finding the Space to Lead. Personally, I like to go tuck myself into a corner at a quiet coffee shop, but if you can’t get out of your office, just close the door and put a sign on it that reads, “Thinking.” Then, when your co-workers ask what’s going on in there, you can share your new process for innovation and maybe you’ll start a new trend at your office.
- Begin a daily meditation practice. There are a myriad of online and in-person programs that can help you begin a mindfulness meditation practice. And you’ll see results in as little as 10 minutes per day. Some workplaces even offer mindfulness training on-site and weekly group classes. So, when you’re ready to make a change, start seeking out how you can begin your practice. It may be as simple as playing a guided meditation from an app on your smartphone or just paying attention to your breath for a minimum of 10 minutes. Most importantly, set yourself up for success by creating a welcoming space for your daily practice and working it into your daily routine just like brushing your teeth.
Don’t give up! Mindfulness is a practice that you must do consistently and cultivate within your daily professional and personal life. There will be times when you’ll be frustrated with yourself, especially if you’re a perfectionist like me. But lighten up, let it go, just breathe and start again. It’s really that simple.