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There’s a reason why so many people are getting into ‘mindfulness’. This ancient Buddhist practice is more than meets the eye, and many companies are catching on to its potential health benefits. Recent studies have shown that including mindfulness exercises in your daily routine cuts down the production of the stress hormone cortisone and reduces feelings of anxiety and fatigue. Therefore, trying just a few of these techniques throughout the day could help you strike a more effective work-life balance.
Since you don’t need any specific tools for these exercises, you can try them out on your commute or even at your desk. Here are five quick mindfulness activities you can easily incorporate into your daily life.
Close your eyes and slowly breathe in and out. Concentrate on the rising and falling of your chest, and try not to think about anything else. If other thoughts pop into your head, acknowledge and dismiss them, then bring your focus back to your breathing.
It’s easy for minds to wander during conversations. Instead of formulating your reply while your colleague is still talking, empty your mind and really listen to what they’re saying. Try not to think about your to-do list, your plans for the evening or past conversations – try to simply be in the moment. As well as helping you to pick up more information, this can also improve your workplace relationships.
The observation game
Choose any object nearby (a pencil, your computer mouse or even your tie) and really focus on it for one minute. Pretend you’re seeing it for the first time. Pay close attention to its shape, texture, and construction. This can help you clear your mind and reconnect with those everyday objects that surround you.
Stay in the moment
Choose one thing that you use all the time – the kettle in the office kitchen, for example – and use it as a focal point for a moment of mindfulness. Think about how it feels against your skin, how it works and what you’re using it for. For example, consider how fantastic it is that a kettle can boil water in a matter of minutes and how lucky you are to have access to clean water and electricity.
Take a break in nature
This one may require you to get up and leave your desk – but you’ll feel all the better for it. When you go on a coffee or lunch break, take a stroll by yourself through a nearby park or green area. If possible, leave your phone and any other electronic devices back in the office and use this time to focus on and listen to the natural world around you. This is a healthy exercise for both your mind and your body, as you’ll also benefit from the physical movement and the chance to get a breath of fresh air.