Work & Wellbeing

Feeling flustered at work? Practice mindful cleansing from your desk

4 min read

06 March 2019

We're expected to perform at a consistently high level at work. But we're only human and are bound to flounder at some point. So how do we avoid burnout? The answer is to take attention to the place where we feel stress and fatigue (our brains), and practice mindful cleansing, which can be done within the office.

One of the disadvantages of the multi-tasking world in which we live is not being “fully present” within everything that needs to be done. How often do you find that you are taking a phone call, while writing an email while also thinking about something else that needs to be done?

This is known as multi-tasking, and working and living in this way  does not necessarily mean that you are devoting quality thought to the task and quality performance in its execution.

Can you be the best and avoid burnout?

In his book “High Performance Habits” Brendan Burchard (2017), spoke of an executive who seemed able to handle a complex and extremely tight schedule and still offer engaged and high performance.

“Burchard identified that in between each item on the list, the executive would engage in a mental palette cleanse. In between running from one meeting to another he would go to the bathroom, splash his face with cold water and do a couple of start jumps. He would complete one task before moving to the other.”

In the same way as a wine connoisseur might sip water or eat a dry cracker between tastings so as not to affect the taste of the new wine with any flavour of the old – if you are able to afford yourself a “mind cleanse” between tasks, you may find your engagement and focus will be refreshed for the next.

Try these simple mind cleanses:

Staff wellbeing

1. If your to-do list entails a series of emails, then going to a meeting, then going to another meeting. After you have completed your emails, splash some water on your face, or take a couple of deep breaths, or do some star jump to clear your mind prior to your next engagement. After the meeting, do the same. You will find that you will be re-energised for the start of that next task.

2. Trying to be creative? Observe with all your senses! Remember, it’s not just your eyes that give you information, discover what you can learn about a situation or experience by also focusing on taste, touch, smell, and hearing. You do not need to process nor think, just experience.

3. Feeling stressed? Rather than telling yourself to “calm down” or “breathe deeply” – which will more likely frustrate you even more, count the second hand on the clock, or the number of tiles on the floor. Doing something which gets you out of your own head and that will help calm your mind. Alternatively, change your body temperature – if you are hot, then open a window or splash water on your face, if feeling down and apathetic, run on the spot!

…and if you don’t have a lot of time for something so formal try this:

Burnout working conditions

– Before you go into your second/third/fourth meeting of the day, take a moment to “shake out” so you can walk in re-energised.

– In between emails, try to stretch your arms up (hold for 8) and stretch your legs out in front (hold for 8).

– Go to the toilet when you need to, and while there, splash some water on your face before you return to your next task.

– Take a walk away from your desk at lunch, or go and eat in a different environment – a chance of scenery gives your mind a chance to reset.

Small acts of re-energising will make you better able to concentrate at the start of your next task and enhance your productivity.