When I say the word mindfulness what type of picture pops into your head? Maybe it’s someone sitting cross-legged on the floor with their eyes closed, dressed in beautiful garb with a flower tucked behind their ear? I’m here to say, you don’t need a yoga mat or a guru to start incorporating mindfulness into your daily routine.
What is this whole mindfulness thing anyway?
Mindfulness is the ability to be aware in the present moment without judgment. In other words, you’re in the driver’s seat of your own life. The opposite of mindfulness is mindlessness where our brain is essentially on autopilot. Research indicates almost half of our waking state is run on autopilot.
Why practice mindfulness in the first place?
Mindfulness takes us out of autopilot and into the present moment. Studies suggest a mindfulness practice can reduce negative effects of burnout and compassion fatigue, while also increasing job satisfaction and overall quality of life. Mindfulness strategies can also help to manage anxiety, stress, and depression. Well who wouldn’t want that?!
Maybe you’ve always wanted to become more Zen but didn’t know where to start or didn’t have the time to attend a class. The following are some unusual but totally doable mindfulness strategies to incorporate into your work day.
Yep, you read that right. We already eat at least 3 times a day, so why not be mindful when you do it. If drinking coffee is part of your morning ritual, then this is an opportune time to try it. It’s also great to try this during your lunch break. During your meal, instead of taking bites in between mindlessly scrolling through your phone (yep, I’m guilty of mindlessness too) try being more mindful. The first step in mindful eating is to find a quiet spot free from distractions. Next, hold your beverage or food in your hand and close your eyes. Make note of the smell and how it feels in your hands. Then, slowly take a small bite at a time while noting the taste and how it makes you feel.
Or how about this…
This isn’t your traditional mediation approach. You could try practicing walking meditation as you go from your car to your office before and after work. Maybe you’re in a work setting where you have to walk to get your clients, so try this as a way to grab a few peaceful moments dedicated to just you.
Okay, okay, not odd enough? Maybe this will spark your interest…
Yoga for the eyes
Think about how much of your work day is dedicated to sitting in front of a computer screen. Hey, you’re probably reading this on a screen right now. Screen time is so much a part of our profession and we can easily forget the physical toll it can take on the eyes. Doing yoga with your eyes can relax eye muscles and ease strain.
Try these two exercises at your desk: Suspicious eyes. Move your eyes laterally from left to right and hold them in the corners for about 5 seconds in each direction. Complete 10 reps on each side. Go the distance. Take a moment to get outside to look at the surrounding landscape or peek out the window for a few moments. By looking at objects from a distance your eyes will reset to their neutral position and relieve muscle strain.
By incorporating these mindfulness tricks into your work routine, you can give more to patients, clients, or students without wearing yourself out.
Kathryn Williams, MS, CCC-SLP, is the owner of Santa Rosa Speech & Language Services, a private practice in Santa Rosa, California. She is also a certified compassion fatigue professional though the International Association of Trauma Professionals. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram @santarosaspeechtherapy, and on her website www.santarosaspeechtherapy.com. Katiespeech@gmail.com