Mindfulness: How to Start Your Day the Right Way
This year, employee engagement rates took a dip for the first time in years, falling to 34%. At the same time, the percentage of actively disengaged workers rose to 16%. Whether you’re a manager or team member, you can’t overlook the importance of those figures. At the same time, you’ll want to make sure that you keep your engagement levels as high as possible. What if you can’t control all the outside forces that make you feel occupationally disconnected? You can still push back against feelings of disengagement through the practice of mindfulness.
At its core, mindfulness involves being “present” and in the moment. You’re alert to everything going on in your body, from hunger pangs to a bevy of emotions. Yet you can look at them objectively because mindfulness doesn’t take the past or future into consideration. Your only job is to focus on the here and now.
When implemented correctly, mindfulness has been shown to reduce stress and possibly boost immune system responses. In other words, it can be a valuable tool if you find yourself depleted emotionally and perhaps physically at the end of every workday.
To get the most significant impact from working mindfulness into your life, aim to interweave mindfulness activities into your daily life. If possible, try to start your day with mindfulness, so it becomes more intuitive. Below are some changes you can make as soon as tomorrow morning.
1. Put technology on your side.
When used incorrectly, digital devices can distract your concentration and even increase your anxiety levels. However, that doesn’t mean your smartphone or tablet can’t be an asset on your mindfulness journey.
Just let your fingers do some walking throughout the App Store. Numerous app-based solutions help you learn exercises to get yourself into a mindful mindset.
Take the breathwork app Othership, for example. Othership is devoted to teaching the art of conscious breathing, which is essential to mindfulness. By following music-driven guided breathing exercises, you can prepare your body to fight fatigue, restore energy, and find its center.
In addition to using a breathwork app, look for apps to help with meditation and other mindfulness-friendly techniques. Again, it can be much easier to get started by just following the directions you’re given rather than figuring out what to do through trial and error.
2. Get up at the same time every day.
Healthy sleep hygiene doesn’t mean just going to bed early. It means staying on a consistent schedule that allows your circadian rhythm to stay on track.
When you arise at about the same time seven days a week, you should start to feel like it takes less effort to concentrate. Since mindfulness is all about concentration, rising like clockwork just makes sense.
At first, you may have trouble conditioning yourself to avoid activating your snooze alarm. However, this type of response is natural, particularly if you’re accustomed to ignoring your first alarm. Some tricks to train yourself to awaken fast include exposure to sunlight and standing up right away.
Have patience with yourself — but don’t stop trying. Even the most resistant night owls can become early birds.
Plus, you reduce your worries about being late when you stop oversleeping. Consequently, you’ll be calmer when performing mindfulness activities.
3. Plug mindfulness into your morning exercises.
Yoga, pilates, and stretching tend to be the exercises most associated with mindfulness.
If those activities don’t appeal to you, never fear. Mindfulness can take place during even the most intense of workouts. Simply pick your morning pick-me-up of choice and approach it mindfully.
For example, pay attention to your breathing during your warmups. You’ll reduce your heart rate and open your lungs. Try to stay in the same positive headspace throughout your exercise until you reach the end. Then, return to deep, contemplative breathing for a brief cool-down period.
It’s important to know that you don’t need to exercise for an hour. You’ll benefit even if you can only shoehorn a two-minute warm-up followed by eight minutes of cardio into your morning. The experience will stimulate your body and mind. As an extra advantage, you’ll be less likely to injure yourself during your activities.
4. Keep a journal.
The act of writing down whatever enters your mind can be cathartic. For this reason, many mindfulness enthusiasts like to journal.
You can journal any time during the day, of course. But morning may be the quietest time to sit alone with your thoughts.
What should you journal about? You don’t have to follow any set pattern. For example, you may be inspired to jot down the last dream you had before bedtime.
Maybe you have a desire to create word art or doodles. Let your creativity and honesty flow. You’ll tap into your beliefs, passions, and feelings.
Even if you have nothing to say, you can always write something. It might be a description of the current weather or an inventory of your emotions.
5. Wait to read texts and emails.
Are you someone who dives into your inbox within the first 15 minutes of waking up? Unfortunately, you may be derailing your chance to get into a mindful zone.
The issue is that you force your brain to depart from just-awakened theta and alpha stages. Theta and alpha stages are essential because they set the stage for daydreaming, freeform thinking, and — you guessed it — powerful mindfulness.
Trying to take in information and make decisions without giving yourself time to relax is a recipe for stress.
Even if you end up using apps to guide your mindfulness, resist tuning into work-related content.
Otherwise, you could make it nearly impossible to enter into a peaceful state. All you’ll be able to think about is the angry email from your client or your boss’s request for yet another 10:00 a.m. check-in meeting.
Workplace engagement isn’t a one-way street. It’s up to both companies and workers to set the groundwork for the best possible outcomes and connections.
Incorporating mindfulness into your mornings may not make your workplace better, but it can make you a more productive, optimistic, level-headed employee. And that’s good for your morale, even if you wind up moving to a different company.
Image Credit: Na Urchin; Pexels; Thank you!