It’s a word we hear a lot these days. But unfortunately, if you’re like me, it’s not something you practice often. If you’re a chronic multi-tasker, planning-freak or generally busy person, it can be hard to me “mindful.”
But practicing mindfulness doesn’t need to be something else you schedule into your day. In fact, there are quite a few ways that you can “sneak” mindfulness into your daily life, with hardly any adjustments to your normal routine!
I’ve been practicing a few of these for the past couple of weeks, and they are game-changers. Just taking a few extra minutes (or an hour workout, in the case of yoga class), can make all the difference in lightening your stress levels, re-focusing you back on what’s important in life, and reminding you to just. breathe.
Here are four easy ways to sneak mindfulness into your daily routine and practice mindfulness at work.
1. Go for a walk at lunchtime
There are multiple known benefits of actually using your lunch break at work, specifically to go for a walk, such as scientific health benefits such as increased blood circulation and oxygen flow; and improved mood. But using your lunch time to step physically away for your desk has more than just physical benefits – there are significant mental benefits as well. Getting away from your office and your work with a quick walk can help you re-energize and re-center, but here’s the thing: you have to NOT think about work while you’re on your way. Rather, spend the time thinking about all the things you are grateful for, or just trying not to think at all. A little bit of walking meditation can do wonders for the soul (and the body!)
2. Make a gratitude list
Speaking of thinking of all the things you are grateful for, I’ve been engaging in a new practice the last few weeks that has proven to be an excellent way to start the day. Each morning, after a bit of coffee and general “wake up” time, I make my way over to the desk in our office (one of my favorite spots in our new house… more on that later!), get out a designated journal – a fun purple notebook with an elephant on the front that a coworker brought back for me from his trip to Thailand, and make a list. But it’s not a list of everything I need to do that day – it’s a gratitude list.
Exactly what it sounds like, a gratitude list is a short, sweet list of all the things I’m feeling particularly grateful that morning. It may be a more recent, flippant item (like, “I’m grateful for the delicious dinner I had last night”), or something that’s a meaningful, consistent part of my life (“I’m grateful for my supportive family/my caring fiance/my health”). I’ve found that starting my days by making these lists really helps set a positive intention for my days, and puts me in a more grounded, appreciative state of mind. And the best part about it? It only takes about two minutes! Give it a try tomorrow morning and let me know how you feel afterward 🙂
3. Quiet your mind through exercise
I recently was given the opportunity to take a yoga class at my local CorePower Yoga Studio in Pacific Beach. I elected to take the C2 class – a “hot yoga” class that was both challenging and detoxifying (mostly because of how much I was sweating!) The fast-paced flow of the class got my heart rate up and kept me focused on how my body was moving, as well as the cadence of my breath. But I realized something interesting when the class was over – not once, throughout the course of the class, had I thought about work, wedding planning, or anything else. My mind was so occupied with staying in the moment that I simply didn’t have time to think about it. And how cathartic it was!
My instructor, whose name was Lauren, mentioned something during reflection time at the end of class that has stayed with me these past few weeks. She said to remember that “you are responsible for your goals.” Only you can decide what is important to you and what your goals are, and be held responsible for making them a reality.
So, on those days when your to-do list is a mile long, it’s important to take a step back and realize that so much of what’s on that list is within your control – the way you spend your time and energy is determined by you. And sometimes all it takes is realizing that.
4. Ditch the list
Yup, I said it. On days when you’re feeling incredibly frazzled or overwhelmed – whether it’s from work, personal life, errands, or anything else that’s hanging over your head – there’s one thing you can do that will take you out of “going through the motions” and back into your head: throw away the to-do list. You will live without it (at least for the day – I promise!)
So give it a try. Use these tips to sneak some mindfulness into your workday – and let me know how it goes!