Three-Minute Mindfulness Practices for the Office
Katelyn Nichols, Former Digital Strategist Apprentice
Consider this your official invitation to take a well deserved three-minute break. Nourish your heart and mind for exactly 180 seconds because yes, you deserve it!
Ah, mindfulness- we’ve all heard of it at this point, right? Healthcare experts, preschool teachers, your neighbor, and the grocery clerk at check-out are talking about it. But what exactly IS mindfulness and is it really something to consider exploring?
Simply put, mindfulness is the practice of being present and aware of what you’re doing in the moment (so, in case you’ve already zoned out- come back to meee!). Mindful practices help you recognize what’s happening physically, emotionally, and mentally, and can better help you live in the moment.
The first time I recall learning the concept of mindfulness was in reference to the practice of mindful eating (you know, that thing no one does when they’re eating, say, popcorn in a movie theater). I learned that a mindful eating practice includes recognizing if one is conflating hunger with anxiousness, boredom, or any other emotion. Ooops- guilty.
This lesson stuck, and since then, mindfulness practices have truly changed my life for the better. As a performance coach for kids/teens and an Executive Coach for C-Suite leaders across the globe, I realized this was an opportunity for my clients to better manage their daily stressors and anxieties.This led me to become certified in Yoga and Mindfulness. Students and clients of all ages have benefited from these daily practices and it’s been one of the most rewarding aspects in my time as a Performance and Executive Coach.
And so dear Viget-y reader, I want to share three of my favorite mindfulness practices that can be incorporated into your daily or weekly routine at work or at home. While you may need to read these instructions slowly the first time, eventually, these practices will be something you can do without any guidance. They’ll be yours to use whenever and wherever you’d like.
Before you begin any of these exercises, turn off your notifications and let these three minutes be a little ‘you’ time, yeah? You deserve it.
Step 1: Sit outside or look out the window if you can’t leave the office. Listen for the ‘silence’ beneath the noise.
Step 2: Notice what you see. Try to see your surroundings for the first time and appreciate the smaller details – note the colors, textures, and patterns. Notice what may be newer or older.
Step 3: Notice movement – Any movement in the trees or the grass, the way some people walk and the way some birds fly. Remember to simply observe, not judge.
Step 4: Bring your attention back to your breath for a couple of seconds before noting what you see once more- really taking in the space with fresh eyes before going back to work.
Note on your phone or notepad five tasks throughout your day that usually go unappreciated. Or perhaps, choose five activities you tend to complete on ‘autopilot’.
Example #1: Getting dressed for the day
Note the textures, the colors, the details of your clothing. Note how the textures feel on your skin and appreciate if the clothing makes you feel emotionally - confident, cool, comfy? Or physically- warm or cool?
Appreciate the process and time that went into creating your clothing item. Note the amount of resources involved in getting the clothing item to your local store or even shipped directly to you. Appreciate the process and have a sense of gratitude for the item.
Example #2: Ordering/making your morning cup of coffee
Note the smell, the color of the beans or the coffee grinds, the steam rising from your cup, note the sound as you pour the coffee into your cup or the way it makes you feel to take a sip out of your favorite mug.
Perhaps you note the multitude of processes that took place for that seemingly simple cup of coffee - let it fill you with a sense of gratitude for all of the work that was poured into making that hot cup of coffee happen.
Three Minute Mindful Breathing
Step 1: Sit comfortably on a chair. Plant your feet flat on the floor. Get your wiggles out before officially starting your 3 minute timer.
Step 2: Take a few deep breaths- breathing in through your nose for four seconds, out through your mouth for four seconds.
Step 3: Imagine you’ve placed a nice warm washcloth on your face. Let this image release tension in between your eyebrows, forehead, jaw, and tongue. You can choose to keep your eyes open (with a soft focus looking at one non-distracting area) or close your eyes.
- Step 4: Let the natural rhythm of your breath take over- breathe normally and mindfully. What does that mean to breathe ‘mindfully’? Here are some feelings you can mindfully note:
- Is your breath rising into your shoulders or is it expanding your diaphragm/tummy? Do you feel it expanding your side ribs?
- With each exhale do you notice different parts of your body release tension?
- Step 5: Continue to focus on your breath. Distractions and thoughts about work and life will pop into your mind- that’s okay. Don’t judge yourself.
Suggestion: Simply note any distracting thought and bring the attention back to your breath. Perhaps note the air flowing into one nostril more than another or the temperature of the air as you breathe in versus breathing out...these are all mindful observations.
All of these three minute practices can be used at any point of the day and of course, you can certainly do each of those exercises for more than three minutes at a time.
Incorporating practices like these will reduce anxiety, stress, and those oh-so-unhelpful thought patterns that limit our ability to be present, grateful, and aware of our feelings and surroundings.
Remember, a mindfulness practice can be as short and sweet as you’d like it to be. It is YOUR own practice, after all. You make the rules.
Over the years, I’ve learned it’s important to remember that mindfulness is not an instantaneous fix to life’s problems. Just like working out for a day or a few weeks won’t magically transform your body. But if you’re willing to commit even three minutes a day, you’ll be on your way to a happier, healthier you - and I think you deserve to feel nothing less than the very best version of yourself.
You are worth the quiet moment.
You are worth the deeper breath.
You are worth the time it takes
To slow down, be still, and rest.
-Morgan Harper Nichols