Do you ever feel caught up in the urgency and stress of work? Do you ever feel overwhelmed by your inbox and to-do list? Do you ever feel that your colleague’s priorities are distracting you from doing your most important work? If so, then this article is for you
Building mindfulness into your working day is a wonderfully calming approach that helps sharpen your mind, filter out the irrelevant, and stay relaxed and grounded. We’ve put together some simple, short exercises to help you easily incorporate this powerful practice into your working day.
Start by focusing on something inspiring. Swap facebook or a newspaper for your journal. We love the Self Journal but any journal or notebook will do. Start with a morning gratitude and list three things that you are grateful for.
If you have more time, think about your goals. Not just for the day, but for the week or even for the year ahead. What small seeds can you plant today that can grow into a mighty oak? Set yourself up for a successful day by creating a positive mindset for yourself right from the off.
At lunchtime, step away from your desk to re-energise yourself so that you can return to the afternoon refreshed.
There’s nothing like fresh air and nature to help us gain a sense of perspective. So if you can, take the opportunity at lunchtime to go outside. Take the time to be in the moment. Go slow and observe your surroundings as you walk. What do you see, hear, smell, touch, taste? Enjoy being in the moment and enjoy the opportunity to take a mental break from work.
A free moment
We recently read a fascinating book by Thomas Friedman titled ‘Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist's Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations’ The book is about the speed of this technological age into which we have all entered and that we also need to remember to take the time to be still. In Thomas Friedman’s case, the opportunity to be still came when a colleague was late for a meeting - hence the book title. Relish those unexpected free moments and take the opportunity to be still, in the moment, and do a few minutes of meditation.
Meditation: Sit nice and upright in your chair with your feet planted on the ground. Rest your hands on your thighs. Bring your awareness to your breath. Become aware of the gentle rise and fall of your chest with your breath for a couple of minutes. Breathing in through your nose, divide your next out-breath into four. Do this for six breaths and then let your breathing return to its natural rhythm. If you feel your mind wandering, just gently bring your attention back to your breathing.
Once you have left the office, take a complete break from work and use this time to connect with family, friends, and yourself. Celebrate life and have fun. Read, listen to music, enjoy a nutritious meal, write a letter, be creative, attend a class. Do whatever brings you joy. Your brain needs this time away from work so that you can be focused when you are at work. Lots of research now shows how important time away from work is for productivity and how working longer hours is actually less productive.
At the end of your day
Use your journal to list and celebrate your wins, reflect on lessons learned, and remember what you are grateful for. Stop using your smartphone or tablet at least 60 minutes before bed. Enjoy and embrace the silence of your living space. Recognise if unhelpful or negative thoughts pervade your space. Just acknowledge them for what they are and re-frame the thoughts as positive affirmations.
Affirmations to use throughout the day
We leave you with this thought-provoking poem by Welsh poet W. H. Davies:
What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
We Are All Wonder Women is an international movement for female conservation professionals to be inspired, connected, and empowered to create an authentic, fulfilling and happy career.