3 Short Mindfulness Practices You Can Do at Work
Between looming deadlines, demanding bosses, and constant email interruptions, work isn’t the easiest place to practice being mindful — and many people feel like there isn’t time for it in the workday. But these mindfulness practices are so short, and they fit so smoothly into natural breaks, that there’s no reason not to try them out next time you’re at the office.
1. Mindful handwashing
Any banal activity can be mindful if you pay attention to it and make an effort to be present. One easy activity to turn into a mindfulness practice is handwashing — and since you’re doing it anyway, it doesn’t take time out of the workday. Next time you’re at the sink, breathe deeply while you’re washing your hands. Listen to the sound of the water coming out of the faucet and hitting the sink. Feel it running over your hands, and notice its temperature. Rub soap between your palms, observing its texture and scent. Keep breathing deeply as you dry your hands, paying attention to how they feel under the dryer or being rubbed with the towel.
2. Elevator breathing
An elevator ride is a perfect time to practice breath work at the office. The elevator’s ding at each floor provides a metronome for measuring your breathing and making the inhales the same length as the exhales. Inhale, first floor, second floor; exhale, third floor, fourth floor. If you’re riding alone, it’s a chance to breathe even more deeply, inhaling through the nose and exhaling as a sigh out the mouth.
3. Lunchtime posture check
If you sit at a desk all day, standing at the office microwave or in line to order lunch can be a welcome break. But instead of waiting mindlessly, use the opportunity to check your posture. Stand with the hips over the ankles and the shoulders over the hips. Drop the shoulders away from the ears, and think of broadening across the chest. Imagine a string pulling the crown of the head toward the ceiling. Take a few breaths in that posture to counter a morning of hunching over the computer.
People who work stressful jobs stand to benefit the most from mindfulness — but they might also be the most likely to feel like there’s not time. Is that you? Introduce more mindfulness into your workday with these micro-practices, and see if you start to notice a difference.