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The Attitude of Quietude: How to Cultivate Zen in the Workplace

With workplace stress on the rise, it's becoming harder and harder to stay mindful. These simple strategies will help you start seeking your own inner peace today.

In today’s corporate culture, there’s one thing most millennials (including myself) strive for in our office environment – stress reduction. And right now, it’s one of the hottest conversation topics in the work (and wellness) world. It’s being tagged on social media, tweeted by wellness influencers, and statistically speaking – 79% of your coworkers have chatted about it with friends.    

Eager job seekers are searching for places that offer a balance of both worlds — and one where they can pursue passions outside of their cubicle. However, corporations are still figuring out their footing when it comes to keeping workers happy, healthy, and de-stressed.  

So, how can you cultivate feelings of ease at work – and seek your inner “om”– starting today?

As a life coach, here’s my take: Strive to create your own Zen environment.

Below, you’ll find 5 simple ways to start cultivating Zen in the workplace and introduce a peaceful synergy between your job and personal life.  

1. Be One with Work and Mindfulness:

In order to make your workday and mindset harmonious, it’s important to enjoy the present moment. As cliché as it sounds, living in the moment is one of the best ways to stay (and remain) Zen for a long amount of time.  

In mindfulness principles, it’s taught that every second is considered ours for the taking, offering both a new start and new possibilities. Keeping this in mind, being in touch with your thoughts is crucial for being in touch with the moment.  

Thankfully, starting this habit is simple.  

Every hour, check in with yourself and examine your thoughts during the workday. One of my favorite tips for clients is to set an alarm every hour. This serves as a gentle reminder to stay on track with their mindfulness practice. Not only is it a simple habit, but it adds a touch of self-care to the 9-5 grind. 

2. Lunch Break = Mental Health Break:

Here’s the truth: Lunch doesn’t have to be centered around food.  

Instead, lunch can be used as a personal hour for inner reflection. As a life coach, I’ve seen my clients take lunch to call their therapists, connect with a friend, or build on their hobbies. One woman references it as her “mental health hour”, which involves breathing exercises and examining her emotions.

And get this – not only will you be doing a mental health check, but you’ll improve your concentration and focus. A study conducted at Bristol University found that 41% of workers who moved from their desks (including short and long walks) saw an increase in motivation. This also boosted their attention to detail for the remainder of the day.

Whatever it may be, don’t feel guilty taking a “bite” out of work for personal time!

3. Create Your De-Stress Desk:  

Is staring at the same, drab walls pumping you up for productivity? If you immediately said no, you’re not alone:

Studies have shown that creating a personalized workspace leads to heightened productivity, increased positivity, and better focus. Having a customized desk can make you feel at ease, and add a touch of personality to your environment. Given this, it’s not surprising that so many people make their desks a mini-home!

Specifically, adding images of family and friends is key for sparking inner joy. Creating a space for these mementos is humanizing; it helps with sparking personal connections with your coworkers. If you lean towards being introverted, doing this can help cultivate conversations and give your peers a glimpse into the true you – no water cooler chat required!

Another way to bring happiness to your desk? Add plants. In this study, researchers at the University of Sydney reported that when plants were brought into the office, workers saw a 37% drop in anxiety, followed by a 44% drop in hostility. Plants have a calming aura, and they require care and attention from owners. Having something to take care of (aside from a pile of papers) is beneficial for your mental health. Remember – different plants represent different emotions, so it’s important to choose those which fit your mental and emotional needs. 

Even in the office, it’s worth it to stop and smell the roses!

4. Single Task for Stress Reduction:

The best thing to do for a calm, organized workday? Focus on one project. If you choose one task to consume your concentration, then you’re able to put maximum effort into it.  Plain and simple.

Imagine this: You’re looking at a to-do list and start to notice you’re becoming overwhelmed with your workload. How do you stop the stress? Take the most important task and devote your entire focus to it, and pretend it’s the only task you need to finish. That way you only have one thing – instead of a long list – taking priority.   

When you break assignments down, work becomes less overwhelming. Losing yourself in a task will help you find your inner flow, meaning it has your full attention and focus. When we have a dialed-in mindset, it’s easier to eliminate unneeded distractions. At this moment, you’ll begin to evoke a fully present mind.

Believe it or not, that’s Zen in action.

5. Tune In, Zen out:

When the office becomes hectic, pop in your AirPods and start destressing – literally. According to a recent study by The Brilliant Sounds Survey, 74% of respondents claimed listening to music helped reduce their stress, while 39% of participants felt no stress at all.

Goodbye chaos. Hello calm.  

If you’re searching for some peaceful music, experiment the weekend before your week begins to test which music helps you feel calm. Throw on your headphones while doing daily tasks and be mindful of your emotions. Do you feel relieved? What kind of music is making you feel relaxed? Could you listen to this for 6-8 hours?

From here, create a playlist of around 20 songs based on your favorite genre. Ease into it on a Monday morning when you’re diving head first into your workload. To keep the music flowing, many music streaming services (like Spotify) will match similar songs on your playlist, so you can tune into your tranquility non-stop.       

Closing Thoughts:

However you choose to start creating a Zen work environment, keep this in mind: Everything worth having takes time. Start slow by implementing a few of these tips into your workflow. Eventually, you’ll notice a shift in your mindset. And remember, even through the noise, you can always cultivate your own attitude of quietude!        

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