7 ways to find a few mindful minutes in your work week
Feeling frazzled? Instead of heading to the vending machine or snapping at a co-worker, try one of these seven ways to tune into your inner happy at work. While these activities might seem insignificant or even silly, re-focusing for five or 10 minutes a day may actually help you become healthier and more productive.
- Saved by the Bell
Sometimes all you need to be pulled back into the present is a simple nudge. Take a cue from the liturgical bells that call monks to worship or prayer. A bell or chime app for your phone can play a tone at the times you choose. When you hear the bell, pause and take note of your surroundings; what you’re feeling; if your thoughts are racing. Take a few slow breaths before you return to your work.
Try the Mindfulness Bell app for Android, or Chill, a daily mindfulness app that sends up to five quotes and reminders to your iPad or iPhone every day. You can also set your device’s alarm function to ring bell tones at intervals during the work day.
- Color Wonderful
Coloring has been shown to aid relaxation and divert attention from anxious thoughts. A short coloring break at your desk can help clear your mind, combat stress and engage your creative thinking. A dozen or so colored pencils or crayons and a few minutes to color a pre-printed design or doodle one of your own can create a calm spot in a stressful day.
Perfect for your desk, the 2016 Color Lover’s Weekly Calendar from Creative Girlfriends Press offers 53 coloring designs printed alongside weekly calendar pages.
- Pretty and Powerful
Try using and wearing a meditation necklace or mala, which can serve as a mindfulness tool and remind you of your intention all day long. In Buddhist tradition, the mala is strung with 108 beads. During meditation, a mantra is repeated as each bead slides through the hand. Many religions use prayer beads that can be carried or worn to the office.
Meditation necklaces hand-knotted by Kara Benz of Boho Berry follow Buddhist mala tradition and are available in a wide variety of bead colors. Search YouTube for videos explaining how to use the mala in meditation.
- Spoonful of Serenity
Crunching potato chips while scrolling through emails isn’t a recipe for peace and good health. Nourish your body and mind by savoring your mid-day meal. Pay attention to the color, texture and taste of your food as you eat. Try setting your fork or spoon down between each bite to slow your eating. Imagine telling a friend about the food you’re eating: How would you describe the taste or appearance of your salad, sandwich or soup? Noticing what you eat can make you feel more satisfied and may help you choose healthier foods.
Chic containers and utensils from Black + Blum take lunch style way beyond the brown bag.
- The Nose Knows
Tuning in to your senses can put the brakes on your racing mind. Literally stopping to smell the flowers—or the lavender, bergamot or patchouli of essential oils—can snap you back to the present. Choose an oil based on its prescribed benefits, or just pick a favorite scent and use it with a diffuser to create an olfactory treat you can stop and savor during your work day.
Aura Cacia’s Aromatherapy Vaporizer uses a stream of air to diffuse scent.
Go silent for just a few minutes. Hang a do not disturb sign on your office door or pop on noise-canceling headphones and drink a cup of tea in silence—with no input from your phone or computer. Better yet, head outside with your mug if possible to hear natural sounds. Gazing at a long view gives you the added bonus of reducing eye strain caused by staring at a computer screen for extended periods of time.
Inspire yourself to take a short stretch of quiet with the Rejuvenation Gift Set from Tea Forte.
- Goodness and Light
Stress can produce negative thoughts—stop them in their tracks with positive words. Affirmations and uplifting quotes can help you reframe your thoughts and put your current workday cares into prospective. Need a good reason? Researchers have found that a positive outlook can help protect against heart disease and improve diet and sleep patterns.
Choose a card each day from the Virtues Project deck. Each of the deck’s 100 cards describes a virtue like “tolerance,” “peace” and “strength,” while offering quotes and ideas for practicing that virtue.
Do you have a favorite way to de-stress at work?
–Janice Brewster, writer, editor and nurturer of creativity