5 Sneaky Mindfulness Triggers for Surviving Work
Does anything at work ever stress you? Work is the primary reason most of us meditate. And drink. How are you supposed to remember to focus on your breath in the place that is the cause of all your stress? I dwelled in the stress and anger for years, before I finally seized control of my own happiness. Mindfulness is my Patronus for fending off stress, and these mindfulness triggers will help you beat stress too!
Our days are full of stress triggers. That’s something that happens to us. Just like one might try to replace chips with celery to fulfill the impulse to mindlessly munch on something crunchy, you can sneak in a few mindfulness triggers to remind you to practice mindfulness. Plan to practice a few minutes–or even seconds–of mindfulness during those events that occur every day. 5 sneaky mindfulness triggers for surviving work are:
- Drinking Water
- Washing Your Hands
- Walking Meditations
- Mindful Eating
- Desk Yoga
Would you like a reminder? Download a free printable to pin in your cube or office wall!
Mindfulness Triggers for Work
A difficult aspect of mindfulness is being mindful of when you’re not being mindful. We meditate to practice rustling those maverick thoughts and returning focus back to the breath. Please tell I’m the first person to use ranching as a meditation metaphor. That’s easy when you’re sitting in your meditation room, staring at a candle flame, nestled in the comforting sounds of ocean waves and a peaceful pillow of orchestral strings.
“Practice being mindful of when you’re not being mindful.”
I don’t have a meditation room either. I just sit on my loveseat and use the Calm app.
Mindfulness is a different beast when
you’re phone’s ringing,
Slack’s dinging, and
some lovely person is singing
if you don’t fix my problem in the next 75 seconds, I’ll lose my job and our biggest client’s office will be destroyed by Loki and his army of Chitauri.
Unless you work in a temple…
that’s not when you’ll likely remind yourself, “back to the breath, back to the breath.” You need ways to sneak in mindfulness practice at work.
…Our days are full of stress triggers.
That’s something that happens to us. Just like one might try to replace chips with celery to fulfill the impulse for mindlessly munching something crunchy, you can work a few mindfulness triggers.
Plan to practice a few minutes–or even seconds–of mindfulness during those times that occur every day. Here we go.
For help with your mindfulness practice try out my 7 Days to Crushing Job Misery email course!
Drinking Water as a Mindfulness Trigger
You’ve got to hydrate. Most of us drink water every day. Eight glasses per day is a good start. Depending on the size of your water bottle, that’s at least three or four meditations you can sneak in every day.
I often have to wait for one or two people filling their water bottles before I can fill mine. Waiting in any line is a perfect time to focus on your breath. Just watch the water flowing out of the fountain and into their bottles while taking slow deep inhales and releasing long, slow exhales.
Focus on that breath just like you do any other time you meditate. Notice how you feel. Is your heart racing? Is your head pounding, stomach growling or ears ringing? Seize those moments to scan your body for sensations.
Smile at each person as she finishes filling her bottle. Maybe say something nice.
When it’s your turn, watch the water come out of the fountain and land in your bottle. Does it splash or send tiny little waves to inside the edge of your bottle? How many of your long, slow breaths does it take to fill up your bottle? Can you hear the water splashing into your bottle? Does the fountain make any sounds? Can you smell anything cooking in the microwaves?
Watch the water flowing into your bottle just like those lucky ducks with meditation rooms can watch the flames of their candles.
The Mindful Bubbler
If you drink from a bubbler (drinking fountain), pay attention to how the water feels flowing onto your lips and how it feels if it glides onto your cheek.
How cold is the water?
How far down your body can you feel the cold of the water progress?
Count to 10 or 15 slowly to make sure you get a nice, big drink.
I bet you never thought you could make such a big production of mindfully drinking water. That’s a good 30 to 60 seconds, three or four mindfulness triggers each day, to practice focusing on the moment instead of ruminating in the madness.
If you drink enough water, what do you think’s going to happen soon after? Yes, I’m going there. I’m talking about that place where conversations shouldn’t happen, that unnecessarily quiet place in which I recommend earbuds with loudish music to camouflage the otherwise unmasked, disgusting sounds that penetrate the most uncomfortable of silences.
And when you’ve done your due diligence, it’s time for your post-diligence duty. It’s time for mindful hand-washing.
Washing your hands is one of my favorite mindfulness triggers. Not taking adequate time to wash your hands after due diligence is just disgusting.
Don’t be THAT person. For hygiene concerns, here’s a message from Jimmy Kimmel and OneRepublic.
For mindfulness. For your sanity and stress, here’s what to do:
I know you’re in a hurry to get back to the absurdities and madness, but don’t fall to the temptation of quick rinse. Wash thoroughly and mindfully.
Start With a Deep Breath.
Wet your hands completely before pounding on the soap dispenser. Notice the temperature of the water as it flows over your hands. Notice the sensation of hands going from dry to wet. Relish the feel of the water for a moment.
Don’t Pound the Soap Dispenser.
Press it slowly and thoughtfully. Rub your hands together slowly.
Watch the lather form. Feel the bubbles. Watch the foam.
Take time to wash each finger intentionally.
Wrap all the fingers of your right hand around the thumb of your left hand and rotate a few times. Then move to your left index finger. wash each finger slowly, deliberately and mindfully.
Notice the temperature, bubbles and foam on each finger of each hand. That’s ten deliberately washed digits. Then slowly and thoughtfully wring your hands together a final few times.
I have had my mindfulness interrupted a few times by noticing people watching me like I’m some kind of weirdo. It does feel a little awkward washing your hands that way at first. It feels equally awkward writing about it.
Mindful hand washing is an excellent mindfulness trigger to sneak three or four meditations into your workday.
Sedentary is the new smoking. Don’t sit too long. Get up and move, even if it’s just a ten minutes stroll. Right after lunch is a great time to sneak in a short stroll.
If you sneak in three mindful hand-washing trips and three trips to mindfully hydrate, that about six short strolls.
Don’t rush those walks. Don’t race to do your business and quickly return to the madness. That’s what the non-washers do.
Take a few extra seconds to breathe slowly and focus on your steps. Take note of sensations in your body. Any aches or pains? Any sore or stiff muscles?
Notice how your whole body moves, how your arms swing back and forth with your gate. Notice the feel of the ground, whether you’re walking on carpet, tile or concrete. Find a curb or speed bump to balance on so you have to focus.
Even short strolls for just a minute or two are great mindfulness triggers. They also make sure you’re not too sedentary.
Wolfing down your meal is bad for digestion. You could choke! Plus you’ll only get back to the insanity sooner.
Let lunch, and maybe a couple of snacks, be more opportunities for mindfulness triggers. Take a few breaths before you begin eating. Say grace, if you like, but take a few minutes to slow and settle down before you start sticking that sharp, metal (or plastic) utensil into your mouth. Take a moment and be grateful for what you are about to eat. Even if you must grab fast food or if your spouse lacks culinary expertise.
Take small bites. Look at each bite before you put it into your mouth.
Chew slowly. Relish the textures and flavors. Chew your food well. Give your digestive system a little help. Chew your food slower and more times. Enjoy and Savor your meal instead of rushing through it.
When you finish your meal, take a few minutes to breathe and allow your food to digest. Enjoy a few moments of gratitude for the food you just enjoyed. Even if it wasn’t that enjoyable.
Improve your digestion and your stress levels by using your lunch (and breaks) as mindfulness triggers.
Yes, people probably look at me like I’m crazy. I work in a huge, open work area. I have a stand-up desk. When I stand up, remove my shoes and work at my desk in a tree pose, I’m certain people think I’m weird.
I don’t care.
It’s Funcomfortable, a brief little trek outside my comfort zone.
It’s kinda hard to balance there in a tree pose without being mindful of what I’m doing.
Rather than me try to tell you how to do a tree pose, just watch this video. It has really good tips.
I also recommend this book.
This is the book that got me started sneaking in Yoga at my workstation. Ms. Loomis also teaches a few breathing exercises you can mix in. That link is an affiliate link, so I get a cut if you use it. How cool is that!
If you’d like a little reminder, please download and post this printable!
You’ll fend off stress like