The practice of mindfulness is all about being present in the moment. It’s hard to imagine a more chaotic place than the office, so the idea of practicing mindfulness at work can often seem impossible. But it’s not! There are great mindfulness techniques that will work in almost any environment when you only have a few minutes to spare. We’ve got seven of them that just may do the trick when your workday starts to leave you feeling scattered and out of control.
1: Feel your desk – 1-2 minutes
This is a great mindfulness technique for when you only have a minute or two to spare and you can’t leave your desk. This works best if you can close your eyes, but if you feel that would make you look unfocused, simply find a fixed spot to stare at on your wall, or perhaps the edge of your computer screen—just make sure it’s a point that doesn’t move.
To utilize this technique, place your palms flat on your desk or work surface and slowly slide your right hand forward for two seconds while you inhale, then bring it slowly back while you exhale. As you do this, work to clear your mind of the distractions and stresses in your head. Repeat with your other hand. Then repeat again, but this time notice what you feel with your fingers and your palms. Is the surface smooth or coarse? Is it warm or cold? Notice what you feel, the variations in the surface.
Continue to slide your hands as you inhale and exhale examining the surface for as long as you feel comfortable. Practice this technique for a minute or two to help ground yourself.
2: Head-in-hands – 2 minutes
Another excellent mindfulness technique to try when you are unable to leave your desk is the head-in-hands trick. Place your elbows on your desk or work surface, then bring your hands up toward your head and lean your head forward until your fingertips touch your temples. Rest your head on your hands and either close your eyes or stare at your desk.
Allow yourself to let go of whatever thoughts are in your head and instead bring one affirmative thought into your head about what has gone well today. Maybe you smiled at the barista at the coffee shop—then think “I was kind today.” Perhaps you hit a new personal best distance on the treadmill—then think “I achieved a goal today.” Don’t think big with your affirmation, think small, something you can sum up in one sentence.
Now inhale slowly as if you are inhaling that sentence, hold it for 2-3 seconds, then exhale as if you are exhaling that sentence. Repeat this technique over the space of two minutes.
3: “This is a…” – 2-3 minutes
The “This is a…” mindfulness technique is fairly simple and can be practiced almost anywhere. Simply sit up straight so you can take deep breaths and try to free your mind from your current thoughts. Choose one object in your vicinity and stare at it while you slowly inhale and exhale three times. While you’re taking your three breaths, simply repeat in your mind: “This is a stapler. This is a stapler. This is a stapler.”
After you’ve taken your three breaths, choose a new object to focus on, trying not to allow yourself to be distracted, and repeat with the new object.