1. Mindful Mornings
Research says that we release the highest levels of cortisol―our body’s stress hormone―within the first two minutes of our day. So upon opening our eyes, we are already in fight-or-flight mode just anticipating the day ahead.
Luckily, we can use our breath to reverse this process and start the day at ease. Deep breathing with long exhalations activates the parasympathetic nervous system, bringing us back to rest-and-digest mode. Invite some peace into your morning by waking up just five minutes earlier to pause, breathe, and stretch your body. Continue your morning routine and commute with the same level of awareness, paying attention to physical sensations as you brush your teeth, tie your shoes, and step out the door free of stress hormones and ready for the day.
2. Arrival Meditation
A study from Harvard shows that 47% of the time we are “mind wandering.” The study also discovered that we are much happier when we focus on the present moment, whether our present experience is pleasant, neutral, or even unpleasant. So even if we don’t love what we are doing in the moment, turns out we’re better off being present with that experience rather than daydreaming about something else!
Try doing a brief arrival meditation to help you start your workday with presence. When you arrive at your desk, take a few breaths to settle in. Look around, take in your surroundings, and see the people who share this space with you. Take a moment to notice your thoughts and feel your body. You can consider doing these one minute practices every hour where you just pause, breathe, and remind yourself to be present
3. Perform Each Task with your Full Attention
Multi-tasking is a myth. According to neuroscience, it’s impossible for our brain to focus on two things at once. So when we think we are focusing on various tasks, we are really just switching back and forth, and doing a lot of “mind wandering” in the process.
The most efficient way to tackle that to-do list is by focusing on one item at a time. When we “multi-task,” we lose up to 40 percent productivity, and we’re prone to making far more errors. If you commit to giving all of your attention to one task at a time, you can do a better, more reliable job. And by being present in this way as you work, you can also be happier. Win-win.
4. Be an Observer
How many times do you get up to refill your coffee or water glass? You can use moments like this to practice being aware! Pay attention to your feet on the floor as you walk. Listen to the sounds of the coffee machine or the water tap, and the office chatter around you. Notice any smells as you breathe. Observe the space around you with a sense of curiosity about the culture and atmosphere in which you work. Just brief moments where you pause and observe can help you shift back into work mode feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.
5. Connect with Colleagues
Remember that your colleagues, however composed and level-headed or stressed and under pressure they appear, are human beings in need of connection and support. You can transform your life at work by transforming the way you interact with colleagues. Not all of them will be your best friend outside the office, but they are the most important people in your life at work, so treat them accordingly. If you find them disagreeable, practice loving-kindness meditation by sending them the mental wish “may you be happy.” It can make all the difference for your ability to keep a happy work environment even in difficult situations.
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