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Mindfulness activities for work

Mindfulness Activities for the Workplace


We can practice mindfulness anywhere and at any time. During even the most mundane or complex work-related tasks, we can handle those tasks with an eye toward greater mindfulness.

So, what is mindfulness? “Mindfulness is defined as simply being purposeful and present in your head and workspace.” (where is this from)

“Mindfulness is defined as simply being purposeful and present in your head and workspace.”
– Dan Harris

Mindfulness involves being intentional. You can become the best version of yourself when you practice mindfulness at home or in the workplace.

Mindfulness activities for the workplace might be considered intentional workplace activities that encourage and support you to show up as the best version of yourself at work.

People who have been trained in “mindfulness,” say that they become more aware of how their own mind works. They see how their own filters impact perceptions and therefore the decisions they make.”

Mindfulness Activities for the Workplace

The Benefits of Mindfulness in the Workplace

Mindfulness exercises have been shown to change the brain and if we can make it fun, all the better (insighttimer.com).

Mindfulness allows us to slow down and take in the moment. We learn to appreciate the moment without judgment and without trying to gain control of the moment. Some of the other benefits of mindfulness activities for the workplace include:

  • It provides us with tools that enhance our ability to self-regulate our emotions and gain a better emotional state,
  • It helps us to be more tolerant and accepting of people,
  • It helps to decrease our stress and anxiety levels,
  • It can become part of a team activity or an activity that we practice alone,
  • It can help increase our self-esteem and enthusiasm to get things done,
  • It can improve our social and personal relationships, and
  • It provides us with additional coping strategies to improve our emotional resilience.

Some additional benefits of mindfulness are discussed in the video below. 

Numerous studies have provided evidence that our brains are not fixed and can adapt with the help of mindfulness practices. Specifically, brain studies on individuals who meditate during moments of conflict have shown increased neuron growth in the part of the brain linked to emotional regulation, learning, and memory.

Mindfulness Activities for the Workplace

There are many mindfulness activities that one can find on the internet. The ones listed in this article struck a chord with my working style and those I currently work with. Here is my curated collection of activities.

Body Scan

The Mayo Clinic provides the following steps for a body scan via Jon Kabat Zinn.

  • Step 1: Start the Body Scan with participants sitting on a comfortable chair with feet resting on the floor;
  • Step 2: The facilitator should ask the participants to sit very still for the duration of the exercise and to be aware of their movement if it becomes necessary to adjust their position;
  • Step 3: Next, the facilitator guides the Body Scan. Participants bring awareness to their breath, noticing the rhythm and the experience of breathing in and out. We should not change the way they are breathing but instead, hold gentle awareness of our breath;
  • Step 4: Next, the facilitator guides the participants in calling attention to their bodies: how they feel, the texture of clothing against the skin, the contours of the surface on which the body is resting, the temperature of their bodies, and the environment;
  • Step 5: The facilitator guides awareness to the parts of the body that are tingling, sore, or feeling particularly heavy or light, s/he asks the participants to note any areas of their body where they don’t feel any sensations or are hypersensitive.

Mindful Seeing

Some individuals respond better to visual input. It is important to note that not everyone possesses a naturally strong imagination and may be resistant to some guided meditations. Practicing the art of Mindful Seeing can prove to be a benefit to individuals who can relate to a visually-based practice. 

This exercise is straightforward and needs a window that provides a view. The group can be directed by the facilitator using the following steps:

  • Step 1: Find a space at a window where there are interesting things to be seen outside;
  • Step 2: Look at everything within view. Avoid labeling and categorizing what you see outside the window; instead of thinking “bird” or “stop sign,” try to notice the colors, the patterns, or the textures;
  • Step 3: Pay attention to the movement of the grass or leaves in the breeze. Notice the many different shapes present in this small segment of the world. Try to see the world outside the window from the perspective of someone unfamiliar with these sights;
  • Step 4: Be observant but not critical. Be aware but not fixated;
  • Step 5: If you become distracted, gently shift your mind back to the view and notice a color or shape again to put you back in the right frame of mind.

The Observer Meditation

This meditation helps us detach from our internal thoughts and feelings and provides some distance between who we are and our life challenges. The meditation  works best as a guided meditation has the following steps:

  • Step 1: Take a comfortable seated position, and listen to a guided meditation.
  • Step 2: Let yourself settle into your body and your mind.
  • Step 3: Try to let go of thoughts and clear the mind of its usual chatter. 
  • Step 4: Focus your attention on the room you’re sitting in. Picture yourself from outside the room like an outsider might. Then, shift your attention toward your skin. Try and feel your skin as you are sitting in the chair. 
  • Step 5: Next, envision the shape your skin is making as you sit in contact with the chair, shifting your awareness toward any physical sensations you are experiencing. As you feel each sensation, acknowledge its existence before letting your consciousness let go of it and move on naturally.

Mindful Listening

The Mindful Listening exercise involves these steps:

  • Step 1: Invite participants to think of one thing they are feeling stressed about and one thing they look forward to;
  • Step 2: Once everyone has completed that step, each participant takes their turn in sharing their story with the group;
  • Step 3: Encourage each participant to take note of how it feels to speak, how it feels to talk about something stressful as well as how it feels to share something positive;
  • Step 4: Participants should observe their thoughts, feelings, and body sensations both when talking and when listening;
  • Step 5: As an option, after each participant has shared, you can break into smaller groups for further discussion and discovery (www.happierhuman.com).

​Mindful Breathing at Your Desk

This particular exercise can be performed in any position- lying, standing, or sitting- and takes just a minute of your time. Alternatively, if keeping track of time isn’t convenient, you can opt to count ten breaths instead.

To encourage relaxation, it is suggested to direct our attention toward our breathing. One can achieve a state of relaxation by inhaling gently through the nostrils, followed by a slow exhalation through the mouth or nostrils, and focusing on the physical sensations that arise within. This practice can be effective in calming both the mind and the body.

We are referring to the inhaling and exhaling of air, which can be perceived as the air moving in and out of one’s nostrils, or the airflow passing through one’s windpipe. Additionally, the action of air being inhaled and exhaled can be observed by placing one’s hands on our belly and chest, as the chest and belly move with each breath taken. If one cannot sense this movement, placing their hands on these areas may aid in perceiving the action.
While you breathe in, become aware of your body absorbing encouraging energy, and when you exhale, let go of any negative energy that you may feel.

Mindful Eating While at Work

This practice entails slowly consuming your food, savoring it with mindfulness, and chewing it diligently. This allows for appreciating the flavor and texture of our food. Frequently, we find ourselves in a rush and consume our meals while working, barely registering what we are eating.
Instead of eating at your desk, taking a proper lunch break and savor your food mindfully is recommended. By doing so, you can avoid the habit of overeating and promote better digestion.

Mindful Focus

To increase your productivity, it is important to avoid multitasking. This is because multitasking can lead to errors and increase stress while reducing your ability to concentrate on important tasks. Multitasking can be counterproductive, resulting in less accomplished work instead of more.

To increase productivity, prioritizing a single task at a time is advisable. It’s important to concentrate on your current work while avoiding potential distractions fully.

Drop an Anchor 

If you work with a team, you will probably agree that collaborating with a team of individuals can be challenging. Each team member possesses distinctive perspectives, work habits, and emotions that affect the group dynamics. At times, the interactions among team members can be tense, leading to annoyance or aggravation with fellow colleagues.

​When experiencing overwhelming emotions, it’s important to recognize their presence and take some time to reflect on the situation. By acknowledging that your colleague’s feelings are valid, you can demonstrate empathy and respect for their perspective.

Steps for dropping an anchor:

1. Remove yourself from the situation and find a quiet spot to sit. Take a few deep breaths and acknowledge your feelings. Breathe through them and accept them. These are just feelings; feelings can get jumbled up during stress or anxiety.

2. As you experience your feelings, imagine an anchor holding you steady through a turbulent sea. Let it bring you back to the present. Try not to attach negative connotations or experiences to these moments. 

3. Once you feel calm and ready, return to your colleagues and find a solution that suits the team. Anchoring yourself first helps the team think rationally. (www.happierhuman.com).

Check-in With Yourself

During such instances, it is important to acknowledge that the emotions you are experiencing are overwhelming and take a step back to process the situation. It is essential to recognize that your colleague is entitled to their feelings as much as you are.

After a long day, it is important to take a moment to evaluate your well-being and ensure that you feel relaxed and satisfied. This self-check can be done multiple times per day.

You might be surprised that a body scan can only take as little as 10 minutes and can be an effective way to check in with yourself. Otherwise, you can find a quiet moment to do a self-check.

Steps for checking in with yourself :

1. Close your eyes and relax your body completely. Imagine yourself as limp as a rag doll. There should be no resistance or tension in your body. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth.

2. Sink deeper into this weightless sensation. Avoid judgment. Allow your breathing to slow down as you focus on your toes, and acknowledge them by wiggling them gently. Move your thoughts to your tummy. Release any feelings of tightness or anxiousness. Be present and thank your body for its hard work.

3. If your mind wanders, draw it back to your breath. Check in with your chest, arms, and hands. Wiggle your fingers slowly. Release any tension in your shoulders, neck, and jaw as you breathe through the sensations.

4. Focus on letting go of any stress bottled up in your mind. Take a deep breath and focus on pouring love and positive affirmations into your whole body. When you’re ready, slowly return your thoughts to the room.

Mindfulness Jar

If you have a heavy workload, you may sometimes feel overwhelmed by the number of tasks you have to complete, phone calls that keep coming in, and requests from your boss for project feedback. These activities can result in high-stress levels, making it challenging to maintain focus and productivity.

Create your a mindfulness jar to keep on your desk using clear glue, food coloring, and glitter or mica powder added to about 75% water. For a point of focus, you can attach a gemstone to the inside of the lid.

Ensure that you securely fasten the lid of the jar and eliminate any air pockets. This process is simple and visually appealing when placed on a desk. Additionally, you can use this jar as a tool whenever you need to take some time off, clear your head, and unwind.

Mindful Hand Massage

Our hands serve numerous essential functions for us, enabling us to complete tasks and engage with others while also conveying our feelings. Therefore, paying adequate attention to their maintenance and well-being is crucial, particularly in the workplace.

Steps for mindful hand massaging:

1. Sit in a relaxed position with both feet on the ground (you can also lean back a little if you want). Close your eyes, take a deep breath, slowly exhale, and study your hands for a moment.

2. Rub your hands together until they feel warm, and allow that warmth to flow through your body. Remember to keep your eyes closed.

3. Massage the tips of your fingers and your palm to your wrists. Repeat on the opposite hand. Rub and warm your hands up again while breathing in and out slowly.

4. Place your warm hands gently on your face and concentrate on your eyes and temples. The warmth will help you relax.

Set a Morning Intention

Upon awakening, our mind is bombarded with various fleeting and countless thoughts. However, taking a few minutes in the morning to engage in mindfulness practices may help interrupt the mind’s habitual stream of thoughts infused with fear, stress, and tension and foster a positive and inspiring start to your day.

Begin by sitting quietly and focusing on your breath to ground yourself before fixing your attention on a particularly positive trait you desire to develop that day. Reflect on the sensation within your body as this virtue becomes your daily guiding principle (mindfulnessexercises.com).

Take 60-second time-outs

When facing deadlines, conflicts, and requests in the workplace, it is common to experience long-term stress. To alleviate these feelings, try taking a 60-second break after a major email or before a meeting to refocus on the present moment. Setting a timer can also aid in attaining deeper mental relaxation.

It is recommended to repeat this process several times throughout the day. With this practice, you may notice increased concentration and efficiency during the periods between breaks.

Keep Personal Devices Out of Reach

As personal devices have become widespread, providing easy access to social networks, we are now more prone to get distracted than we were two decades ago.

We can keep our phones away from our reach to minimize unnecessary diversions, except if needed for work. Doing so makes us less inclined to scroll through various social media platforms and websites, enabling us to focus on our present task. Practicing this conscious behavior can lead to a sense of accomplishment.

Define Your Meaning of Success

It’s important to reflect on our top five accomplishments in life and use them to gain a deeper understanding of our personal definition of success. By exploring the insights gained through this mindfulness exercise, we can gain greater clarity on how we want to approach our contributions to the world.

Learn to Belly Breathe

Breathing deeply and filling the lungs completely while allowing the stomach to expand naturally is an effective method to activate the body’s relaxation response. This technique, called belly breathing, can be highly beneficial during stressful situations, such as before an important meeting or speech. By employing this technique, we can gradually return to a state of tranquility and peacefulness, which enables us to interact with the surroundings with mindfulness and consciousness.

Connect Over Coffee Chats

Coffee is not only beneficial to our health but it can also promote social connection, which is vital for well-being. Due to the pandemic, there has been an increase in feelings of isolation, anxiety, and depression among people. This is particularly relevant to employees who are now working remotely and separated from their colleagues.

Encourage your team to participate in regular coffee meetups to prevent feelings of detachment. Request that all members refrain from bringing their cell phones into the meeting space, whether it is in-person or virtual, to foster a moment of unity where work is not a concern (totalwellness.com)

Connect for Weekly Gratitude Time

Numerous studies have shown the benefits of practicing gratitude, especially in terms of building social connections and making friends. As a knowledgeable reader, you may want to ask your team members each week what they’re thankful for, either by starting staff meetings with a gratitude-sharing session or creating a Slack channel dedicated to gratitude moments. These simple gestures can significantly impact workplace morale and social cohesion.

Hold That Thought

Email is a powerful tool for communication and collaboration among remote workers, but the intended tone may not always be accurately conveyed. It can be beneficial to suggest that team members temporarily delay their response when receiving an email that may have caused frustration.

It’s essential to communicate to people that taking a break is acceptable before hastily replying to emails. Encourage them to take their time and reflect if the message requires an immediate response. This break could range from short to long, depending on the message’s urgency. After giving it some thought, they should reply with a neutral tone. Taking a pause allows emotions to cool down and reduces further misunderstandings caused by frustration.


Mindfulness activities for the workplace can enhance productivity while reducing stress and the feeling of overwhelm. 

Which technique resonates with you? Pick one and try it today!

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