Do you find yourself having a hard time concentrating at work? Are thoughts constantly running through your mind, making it difficult to focus fully on one task? Or does your brain feel so foggy that you keep going over the same sentence again and again? If so, you are not alone. The inability to stay in the present moment and focus is a common problem for many people, especially for those who work nine-to-five corporate jobs. Between work, school, kids, and other adult responsibilities, it’s no wonder we have so much trouble being mindful. Our minds are constantly in overdrive, leading us to sacrifice sanity for even just a little more efficiency.
In this day and age, staying mindful is key to not only maintaining your happiness but also your success in the workplace. Being mindful both helps you stay centered and prevents your thoughts from spiraling into a deep hole of negativity. If you’re someone who struggles with being mindful at work, here are some key ways you can ensure your thoughts remain positive and under control.
Having countless tabs open on your desktop, a constant flow of incoming e-mails, and your phone right next to you is the perfect recipe for never-ending distractions. By cleaning up your work area, you open up space for mindfulness, making it easier to stay in the present moment. If you find yourself constantly browsing the internet, there are programs you can download, such as Anti-Social, that block you from accessing distracting websites — like Facebook — for a set period of time. Additionally, by turning off your e-mail notifications, you give yourself the time and space you need to focus on one project at a time.
While you may need to set reminders to check your inbox, it’s better than taking double the amount of time to complete each task. Lastly, by putting your phone away in a bag or a drawer, you get rid of the temptation to check it every other hour, enabling you to be more efficient with your time. All of these steps allow you to be more mindful during working hours so you spend less time playing catch up and more time crossing items off your to-do list.
Focus on Your Breathing
If you find yourself distracted with a million thoughts running through your head, paying attention to your breathing will help slow your heart rate and put you in a calmer emotional state. Take a minute to close your eyes and focus on each inhale and exhale, calming your mind. Practicing this technique for even just 30 seconds a day can put you in a better state of mind. This is also a great way to transition to meditation, which is a key technique used to improve one’s mindfulness throughout the day. Your breath is at the core of your presence and, by paying attention to it, you remind yourself of your infinite existence. This existence is strengthened by your ability to relax and let go of your worries and focus on all of the goodness flowing into your life.
Be Conscious and Observe
Another way to practice mindfulness is to observe and be conscious of what you are doing in the present moment. For example, if you are grabbing a cup of coffee, notice how the cup feels; observe how you pour it into the cup and pay attention to how the first sip tastes. If you’re sitting at your desk and have access to a window, look outside and list as many of the things you can see as possible. This is a great way for you to bring yourself back to the present moment so as to avoid getting caught up in all of the thoughts swirling around in your head. This tiny shift could end up making a huge difference in your day.
Weather permitting, spending time in nature is another beneficial technique to reach this state of consciousness. The smell of flowers, the sounds of the trees — every aspect of nature is here to remind you of the beauty in life. Regardless of how your day is going, you can always choose to observe your surroundings, instead of getting all tangled up in the emotions they cause.
Refresh, Renew, Revitalize
When there is a seemingly endless amount of things to do, it can be easy to work for eight hours straight without taking a single break. That’s why you need to block off dedicated time to de-stress your mind. Otherwise, it will start working against you. If you struggle with taking breaks, put some time on your calendar — every day — to go outside, take a walk, or get some lunch. By taking time away from your desk, you allow yourself to come back to the present moment. This creates time and space for mindfulness, which will help you avoid a complete mental breakdown.
Taking a break doesn’t only have to happen at work. In the morning, before you head out for the day, take some time to meditate and focus on the positivity in your life. Then, after work, wind down by reading your favorite book. There are 24 hours in a day; there is bound to be some time you can take to strengthen your mental and spiritual health. You just need to set aside the time to make sure it happens.
Empty Out Your Thoughts
Can’t seem to get something off your mind? Sometimes, the best way to combat your continuous thoughts is by writing them down. By expressing those thoughts, you allow your emotions to release onto the page, providing more space for you to regain control of your mind. Every day, for five or ten minutes, take some time to write everything you are feeling on a notepad or in your journal. Give yourself the time you need to empty out your mind’s chatter so it can begin to feel at ease again. Instead of judging your emotions, remind yourself that you are human, and these feelings are all part of your unique journey through life. No one is positive all the time; however, we all have the ability to observe our thoughts — as opposed to being controlled by them. By putting pen to paper, you see your thoughts for what they are: just thoughts. They have no impact on your reality, as long as you do not give them the power.
If you’re intrigued by journaling, but aren’t sure where to start, this will help.