I first learned about mindfulness when I was in college, but as a first-generation student navigating campus life, I initially thought I was too busy to give it the time of day. Then I went to a few on-campus workshops, and I learned that making the time would really help me control my attitude and reactions in all situations. This would serve me in my career, whether I was dealing with an annoying coworker or having a challenging conversation with a client.
Today, I practice mindfulness because it helps me stay focused, open, confident, and energized. I find that it not only reminds me to be positive, but it can also be transformative when experiencing demanding situations during the workday.
Here are four simple ways add mindfulness into even the busiest schedules.
Meditating doesn’t have to take long. I close my eyes for five to eight minutes and simply breathe, inhaling through my nose and exhaling through my mouth while in a seated position. (You don’t want to end up taking a nap.) In the morning, I do this while sitting quietly in my car before walking into the office, because it allows me to create a space in which to approach the day with a positive outlook. For a later-in-the-day mini meditation I might step away from my desk so that I’m not interrupted, and I’ll usually head to the picnic area outside my office or my car. I also sometimes set an alarm on my phone so I know when it’s time to head back into work.
Not sure how to get started? A lot of people use Headspace and other apps, but I’ve always gravitated to free YouTube videos like “Meditation For Beginners.” DOYOUYOGA’s 30-day meditation challenge is another great resource. I personally work with Kerri-Ann Appleton, a motivational coach, who creates customized meditations for me.
When I need a break from sitting midday, I go for a ten- or 15-minute walk. I move at a slower pace than normal and intentionally listen to the sounds around me, like birds chirping, cars passing by, or friends laughing together. The break from my normal office environment is often the energizing boost I need to get through the rest of the workday at peak productivity.
Journaling usually happens in the evenings when I have more time to intentionally reflect on my day. However, during my lunch break, I sometimes jot down in a mini notebook three to five things that I feel grateful for or a few words of affirmation. I try to keep it simple, because I believe that finding gratitude in the everyday can be very liberating. It welcomes acceptance for where we are at and fosters an environment of staying in the present moment. So if you’re feeling particularly thankful for the person who held the elevator for you, go ahead and write it down.
When I need to relax, I plug in my headphones. I usually try to listen to music without words — it’s less distracting — like the instrumental to Lil Jon’s “Get Low,” ha! I’ve also been known to queue up the “Meditation/Yoga,” “Sound of Nature,” and “Chill” playlists on Spotify or Apple Music.