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Mindfulness...more than a buzzword

Have you had a day where time seems to slip away and suddenly it's 5 o’clock? You spent the workday juggling multiple projects, constant notifications, new emails and meetings. You feel the tightness in your neck and shoulders, and realize you haven't taken a deep breath in hours. With a big sigh you wonder how you got to this point. Although you enjoy your job, you feel overwhelmed and make small mistakes when trying to multi-task. Sound familiar? Mindfulness may be a solution.

Mindfulness has become a buzzword lately, but it is much more than that. It is a practice based on ancient philosophies and current scientific research. Mindfulness is being fully aware and focused on the present moment without judgment or expectations. Although it is a simple concept, it can be challenging to put into practice with our wandering minds and the constant distractions of daily life.

Practicing mindfulness has many benefits. It helps us lead fuller lives where we are more in control and aware of how our mindset affects our feelings and actions. It helps us understand how our choices impact our reality and boosts our self-esteem by reducing self-judgment. When we are mindful we can increase our focus, patience and resilient. Plus reduce stress and anxiety by being in the present and worry less about the future or what might happen.

There are several ways to increase mindfulness at work. Here are five of my favorite to get started:

  1. Create a short morning routine: Begin your day by taking a few moments to set a positive tone. You could do this by taking a few deep breaths, doing some full-body stretches, setting an intention or sitting still for a few moments. This can be especially helpful when working from home or transitioning from personal time to the workday.

  2. Move your body: Be aware of how you physically feel and recognize where stress may show up. Noticing your body helps to stay present and regulate your emotions. When you feel tension building, take a short walk, do some yoga poses, stretch, dance to your favorite song or do a body scan meditation.

  3. Take mindful breaks: Pause and pay attention to what is happening in the present moment. Express gratitude for your job, co-workers, what you've accomplished today and how far you've come. Close your eyes and rest them from screens for a few moments. Take some deep breaths.

  4. Slow down, especially when stressed: Avoid doing too many things at once and give one project your full attention. Multi-tasking can be distracting and bring us away from being grounded in the present moment, leading to mistakes and restlessness.

  5. Get outside and breathe: Fresh air and deep breaths can help you refocus and be more attentive to your work. Notice the natural world around you with all of your senses. Your body and breath are the best anchors to the present moment.

Unless you are retiring, work and life aren't slowing down any time soon. Practicing mindfulness can help us appreciate what is happening in the present moment and decrease feelings of overwhelm. It's essential to release any expectations around mindfulness. Let it be what it is. Allow yourself to be fully aware of what is happening in the moment and notice how your body, mind and breath react to it. Giving yourself permission, without judgment to fully experiencing life.

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