PAMF Health Blog

Be Well, Be Well Informed

How Mindfulness Can Help at Work

Posted on Jan 19, 2016

Many of us rush through the day with only a vague awareness of gulping down breakfast, the autopilot commute and the non-stop blur of meetings and projects. The result: stress, burnout, anxiety and depression. But you don’t need to feel powerless. Practicing mindfulness can help.

Mindfulness is about paying attention to what you are experiencing right now with genuine interest and a willingness to accept that experience, says Kaveri S. Patel, D.O., a family medicine doctor at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation. “The health benefits are many. Studies show that mindfulness reduces stress and anxiety, and provides us with a sense of well-being and the ability to notice the joyful moments in life. It also helps us relate to each other from a kinder place, making work a more positive experience and giving us tools to better cope with challenges.”

Ready to improve your work experience through practicing mindfulness? Dr. Patel offers these simple tips:

Choose how to start your day. Before you get out of bed, take a few moments to breathe and notice your breath. Set an intention for your day, for example, to be kind to yourself and others.

Use transitions well. Don’t catch up on texts or emails on your phone while walking from your car to the office or between meetings. Instead, notice the sensation of your feet walking on the floor and the connection with the ground. Notice and greet colleagues you pass.

Enjoy meals. Take time away from your computer or desk to enjoy lunch – notice the colors, taste and smell of the food.

Use prompts as reminders. Whether it’s a simple sticky note with the word “Breathe” on it, or a photo of a peaceful nature scene – use these visual cues to help you take a few conscious breaths at regular intervals.

Pause before reacting. Before reacting to a challenging situation at work, take a breath to help give yourself time to feel more grounded and react calmly and thoughtfully.

Make mindfulness part of your commute. Choose some days to drive without listening to music or the radio. Instead, breathe deeply. Send well wishes to yourself and others. Observe your feelings and thoughts with compassion and without judging.

Breathe. Throughout your day, take time to inhale deeply and exhale completely. This can help you become fully aware of your senses, how you are feeling and help you relax. Learn more about mindful breathing and how to get started in this PAMF blog post.

Learn More About Mindfulness

PAMF offers several Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction programs for adults and teenagers. Dr. Patel teaches a Meditation and Reflective Journaling class in Fremont and Palo Alto.

patelk_2005 Kaveri S. Patel, D.O., is a family medicine doctor at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation.