Booking Mindfulness into Your Work Calendar

By Gemma Creagh - Last update


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Now that we’re all working from home, it can be easy to allow one task to bleed into another, and the first thing that goes to the wall is often those small, simple rituals that are just for you. With everything happening at the moment, many people find themselves overwhelmed, whether it’s from the perpetual bad news emanating from every media source, financial pressures, or an increased workload as your business attempts to migrate online. Finding the time for mindfulness or short bursts of activity can not only reduce stress but actually greatly increases productivity overall. Here some different ways you can bring a positive mental attitude into your working schedule. 

Mindfulness for the Workplace

Meditation

They always say the best things in life are free, and as adults, we know that’s not entirely true. However there is one activity that can boost your mood, give you a sense of control, can be done at any time, and, best of all, is completely gratis! Meditation is recommended by fitness experts and mental health professionals alike. There are many different styles out there, and remote resources range from classes, and books, to apps and videos. It’s up to you to find what fits best into your routine. Whether you’re chanting a mantra, focusing on your breathing, or being guided through a relaxation exercise, setting aside just a few moments each day can make all the difference.

Exercise

No one expects you to do a P90X routine in between conference calls, but low impact, light cardio at regular intervals can have a huge impact on your physical and mental health. Get out at lunch and walk the dog, do a spot of gardening if the weather’s nice, or even find a Youtuber with short routines you enjoy and carve some time out to boost your energy when you feel that well running dry. Make sure to drink water regularly throughout the day, and practice yoga or stretching if you feel the physical strain of your remote working kicking in.

Be Grateful

Ever have those moments when things just get on top of you? The kids are bored. That to-do list is a mile long. Your boss is annoyed. Your clients are demanding miracles… and on top of everything, your pet has just smashed something in the other room. Before exploding – which is a completely understandable reaction, by the way – just stop for a moment. Take stock of anything and everything in your life that you are grateful for. This can be anything from your favourite chair, to your partner’s patience, to the fact that you have a job you like. When times get stressful, our brain tends to ruminate on all the things bothering us. Each day, creating a list of what you are thankful for, can help balance out that negativity.

Eat Well (And Slowly)

When you’re stressed, busy or in need of a quick boost of energy, munching on sugar-filled unhealthy snacks or pounding back double espressos can often be too easy an option. However, in the long run, this can take its toll on your body, your mental health and your self-esteem. It can impede your sleep and exacerbate any underlying medical conditions you may have. Making sure your fridge is stocked with healthy, tasty foods, and paying attention to the process of eating, and how your body feels while doing it, goes a long way to breaking the bad habits of a lifetime.

Write Down Your Priorities

Having a clear set of goals at hand is very helpful when the proverbial excrement hits that fan. What do you want to accomplish and how do you want to get there? What are the smaller tasks you’d like to get done each day – and more importantly, why? Write it all down. It can be easy to lose sight of the big picture when you’re lost in emails or bogged down with back-to-back Zoom meetings. Remind yourself each day of what you hope to achieve, and over time, you’ll be surprised how far you’ve come.

Music

Never underestimate the power that music, be it your favourite upbeat dance tunes, or calming concentration anthems, can have on your brain. Working at home, alone, can be too quiet at times. On the flip side, the sounds of your kids shouting, or neighbour power-washing the garden can be very distracting. In both cases, music can serve as the perfect buffer. Also, if you’re missing the sounds and buzz of the office, there are plenty of ‘noise’ apps on the market that are free and easy to use.

Get Out for Lunch

Designating a separate space to enjoy your down time can help the recharging process, especially if you’re working from home. Don’t let your breaks disappear into the ether, and get away from that desk for lunch. Spend it chatting with your family, go for a walk around the block, enjoy lunch in the kitchen or even the back garden – whatever takes your fancy. The more fully you take that time to decompress, the more refreshed you’ll be when you return to work.

Check In

What are you feeling in the moment? Is there a tightness in your chest? Are your shoulders hunched? Are you clenching your teeth? If you find yourself struggling with a task or are overwhelmed by your workload, one way to understand the physical impact the cortisol is having on your body is by simply observing it. Sometimes, as humans with busy lives and brains, it’s easy to be unaware of our bodies, but take time during the workday to check in with yourself. You’ll be surprised at what you learn.

Rest Up

Your ability to impose discipline, to process and store information, to come up with creative solutions and your basic cognitive function in general are all severely impacted by a lack of sleep. A good nighttime routine, a regular sleeping schedule, getting enough exercise, and cutting back on caffeine later in the day will all help you in achieving the deep restful slumber you’ll need to set you through the workday. If this doesn’t do the trick, then it might be time to consider talking to your GP or visiting a sleep clinic.

Limit Distractions

Working from home can mean that it’s harder to concentrate for many people, which is completely understandable given the present circumstances. One way to help you focus on a given task is by simply limiting those distractions. If you can, for sections of the day put your phone into a drawer, or far away and on silent so only the most determined caller can get through. Turn off notifications for emails, and instead of constantly going back and forth, designate a time for checking in.

Finish Up!

Don’t let those unfinished tasks haunt you late into the evening. Mentally coming up with replies to an email when you’re lying in bed is not a good way to get to sleep. Have a clean break with your workload at the end of every day. Sign off with your colleagues, and make note of any unfinished task, so you and your brain are able to switch off properly. This allows you to be able to get the rest you need as well as be present with your loved ones at the end of every day.

The above recommendations are for people struggling to make the most of their time working from home, and if you have any recommendations or tips, we’d love to hear from you in the comments section. However, we are aware that these methods, while helpful, are not a solve-all when it comes to mental health. If you find yourself struggling, don’t be afraid to reach out to a loved one for help, or to phone your local GP. Alternatively, here is a list of services provided by the HSE as well as the national COVID-19 Community Helpline that might also be able to point you in the right direction.

 

 


Gemma Creagh

Home is Where the Office Is
The Top 5 Challenges Posed by Online Courses (And How to Overcome Them)


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