The Importance of Mindfulness and Relaxation When You Return to Work

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It’s that time of year again, returning to work after the Christmas and New Year break. Whether you spent time travelling the world or at home with loved ones, the reality of returning to your nine to five may already be playing on your mind.

We spend so much of our lives at work and unfortunately our workplace can be a stressful environment. Many Australians are affected by work-related stress which can lead to more serious health issues like high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease.

Because of this, it’s crucial for us to consider the importance of looking after our mental, physical and emotional health. One way of doing this is mindfulness.

Mindfulness in the workplace means being fully present in the moment and focusing solely on the task before you. It means forgetting about the ever growing pile of tasks beyond the one at hand. Mindfulness is a strategy employed by many people to serve as a buffer against the negative impact work stress can have on our broader lives.

Mindfulness in the workplace is just as important for companies as the less overwhelmed your employees are, the more productive they will be. It can also mean less absenteeism.

How to Be Mindful in the Workplace

So how exactly you do you adopt mindfulness in the workplace? The two simplest ways to encourage mindfulness in yourself is single-tasking and meditation.

Single-tasking

This means doing one thing at a time. Often people believe to be a successful employee is to be able to multitask. To be able to switch back and forth between work is seen as being productive. But the reality is, switching back and forth between multiple different tasks can be less efficient and data can be lost in the process.

A great way to kick your multitasking habit and become more mindful is to keep a time journal. Keeping track of what you achieve in a particular block of time can help you visualise your productivity and feel more positive about what you have been able to achieve. You can also try switching off distractions. Silencing your phone and logging off your email account and can help you focus on what’s in front of your and be more productive.

Meditation

Setting aside five minutes of your work day to intentionally practice mindfulness is a great place to start. This can be as simple as taking ten deep breaths before you go for lunch. This may seem like the oldest trick in the book, but mindfulness means taking it to that next level and really focusing on your breathing.

When you breathe in you should imagine the air inflating your stomach rather than your lungs by pushing your stomach out to really draw the air in. Pay close attention to how you feel and listen to the sound of your breathing as this will enhance the calming effects as your focus becomes solely on relaxation in that moment.

You can also try and get your body moving with office yoga. This can be anything from setting reminders on your phone to stand up and stretch your arms and legs, to going for walks.

How to Use Holidays to Recharge

Eat, sleep and enjoy. It’s as simple as that. Many of us don’t get enough sleep so make sure you use your holidays to catch up on some well needed rest. There are several things you can do throughout the day to improve your sleep. Just half an hour extra sleep each night can actually improve your energy levels, memory and productivity, leaving you fresh and ready to take on the work year.

You should also think about what you’re putting in your body. Eating well over summer can remind you how good it feels to be healthy and hopefully stay with you throughout the year. It’s the perfect time to get into good health habits to stick with the year through.

In terms of how you spend your time, everyone’s different so make sure you choose activities that bring you joy. Whether that’s being active, or laying on the beach doing absolutely nothing, it’s okay to put yourself first for a moment. A meticulously planned trip can turn into more work than play so how about a spontaneous activity? It’s all about mindfulness and being in the moment.
With all this is in mind, your holiday doesn’t just have to be the yearly summer break.

A study from the Journal of Happiness recommends you space shorter holidays out evenly throughout the year, rather than using all your leave at once. Planning multiple breaks means you’ve always got something to look forward to, helping you to feel more positive and motivated in between.

Think about when you feel the most stressed – is it in the middle of summer when everyone else is on break? Or is it during winter when Christmas seems so far away? Work out when you’ll need a break first, then space your holidays out accordingly.