Mindfulness is easy to practice throughout your workday. These mindfulness exercises will keep you happier, calmer, and more focused at the office and can have a positive effect on your overall mental health.

Mindful Appreciation

Mindful appreciation is a simple exercise that can help you feel more content through your workday. With mindful appreciation, you take a few minutes to think about everything in your daily life that you normally take for granted. For example, you can think about your cozy comforter, your beautiful car, your sweet cat, or the amazing space heater near your desk. Just think about these things and what they add to your life. Imagine not having them, and how much that would impact your daily life.

Mindful Breathing

Mindful breathing is a meditation technique that is great way to start your day. Mindful breathing can also help you at work. Just repeat the exercise a few times per day while seated at your desk. Block out a few minutes when you can devote yourself to nothing but your breathing. Breathe in slowly, taking about three seconds to draw a breath, and then exhale slowly. Breathe in through your nose, then exhale through your mouth.

Don’t think about anything except your breathing. When stray thoughts come into your mind, just push them back out again and stay focused on your breath. Keep your head as clear as possible during this exercise.

Start with doing two or three minutes of mindful breathing and work your way up to sessions of five to ten minutes. Use the longer sessions for the beginning and the end of the day, taking quick breaks at your desk for a few short breathing sessions.

Take Breaks

Your brain starts to get a little foggy after too much time on one task. Taking breaks can help you maintain a state of mindfulness by giving your brain a little break to reset. Breaks help your brain digest information, and when you return to a task after a short break you can feel a renewed sense of focus.

Working for long stretches that are too long can decrease your productivity and make you more error-prone. Practice mindfulness by taking short breaks at your desk or even by going for a walk for a few minutes.

Mindful Immersion

Rushing through tasks as quickly as possible is stressful and can lead to errors in your work. When you practice mindful immersion, you let go of everything except the feeling of the tasks you’re engaged in at the moment. Instead of being distracted by thoughts of how quickly you can get this task completed so you can move on to the next thing, stop and savor the moment.

Make a conscious decision to focus on what you’re doing. Enjoy the sensations of the physicality of what you’re doing at the moment, and don’t allow your mind to wander toward the other items on your agenda. Don’t worry about your inbox or start going over the key points of the upcoming department meeting.

By using mindful immersion, you’ll enjoy a feeling of being content in the moment while achieving a higher level of focus. Practicing this exercise throughout your workday can reduce your anxiety level.

Mindful Focus

It goes against the status quo of constant multitasking that we see in every aspect of our lives these days, but focusing on one thing at a time is actually more beneficial. When you multitask, you make more errors, take longer to learn a subject, and actually get less done. Multitasking is bad for your brain because it increases your stress level and reduces your ability to focus. Your heart rate increases when you’re multitasking.

To practice mindful focus, you’ll need to leave multitasking behind and learn to take on one activity at a time. By learning to work on one task at a time, you’ll increase your mindfulness by strengthening your ability to focus for longer periods.

Push distractions out of your mind and stay on one task at a time, thinking only about what you’re doing in the moment. Teach yourself to appreciate the activities you engage in while you’re actually doing them. You’ll find that this mindfulness technique can improve the quality of your work and can even give you a new appreciation of the task itself.

Mindfulness Techniques for Work

It’s easy to practice mindfulness at work when you familiarize yourself with some useful techniques and make a decision to put them into practice. These mindfulness techniques can help you reduce stress and foster a more positive attitude toward your workday. You’ll be happier in the moment and you’ll feel more relaxed both at work and in your free time.

Practice Acceptance

Practicing acceptance during your workday can help you get past unpleasant situations. It’s not realistic to try to go through life without feeling some negative emotions creep in, and the best thing you can do is take control when this happens.

If you find yourself feeling stressed out or upset by circumstances at the office, you can move on more easily when you decide to accept the feelings you’re having. Acceptance will allow your mind to work toward a solution. Instead of dwelling on what’s bothering you, be mindful about it by teaching yourself to acknowledge it and accept it so you can get back to your content state.

Engage in Active Listening

Active listening is a skill that will serve you well in all areas of your life, not only at the office. Active listening can help your performance at work, but it can also improve your relationships. Active listening is one of the best ways you can incorporate mindfulness into your workday.

First, make sure the person you’re talking to knows that you’re giving them your undivided attention. You can do this by maintaining eye contact and avoiding distractions like glancing at your phone. Nod, smile, or shake your head at appropriate times to signal your attentiveness.

Listen to what the speaker is saying. Try not to assume that you know what points the person is making before they make them. Don’t compose your response in your mind before they’re even finished talking. There’s nothing wrong with pausing to think before you respond, when it’s your turn to talk.

Pay attention to your body language and make sure you’re not giving off-putting signs like turning slightly away from the speaker. Ask questions and provide other verbal cues to show that you’re following along and that you’re interested. Let the person finish talking before you respond. Avoid the temptation to interrupt and correct a statement that you disagree with. Don’t turn conversations into an opportunity to talk about yourself.

Most people are good at being able to discern whether someone is actually listening to what they’re saying. If you’re anxiously waiting for your turn to talk and not really listening, people will catch on pretty quickly.

Always be polite, and respect the other person’s opinions. Active listening is one of the most useful mindfulness techniques you can use to help you at the office.

Mindfully Unplug

Unplug from the distractions of daily life, such as radios, televisions, cell phones, and email, so you can move through your day in a more mindful state. These distractions can make you more impatient and forgetful while adding to the stress in your life.

Spend time unplugged from technology to do breathing exercises, go for a walk, or complete a task at your desk. Spending some unplugged time at work can boost your productivity and make you feel more relaxed. It’s counterproductive to try to get work done while constantly monitoring email and responding to texts.

Unplug in your car on the way home by turning off the radio. Enjoy the silence and take the time to clear your head, focusing on your breathing and the feeling of your hands on the steering wheel.

These mindfulness techniques and exercises are easy to add to your workday so you can reduce stress, improve your productivity, and boost your overall contentment.

When Raffi Rembrand’s son was diagnosed with autism at the age of 4, it was not the worst news the family received that day. The biggest blow came when their doctor said it was too late for the earliest treatments.

So for Rembrand, a chemical engineer by training, finding a way to detect autism earlier became his life’s mission.

Now, more than three decades after his son was diagnosed with autism, Rembrand has founded an Israeli company, SensPD, which he hopes will accomplish just that. 

SensPD, a finalist in the WeWork Creator Awards that will be held on June 20 in Jerusalem, is developing a way to detect autism based on physiological signs. The company uses an existing device commonly used to check the hearing of newborns, but has modified it to check for sensory perception. One of the major components of autism, which affects one of every 59 children born in the U.S., is its effect on the sensory system.

“We didn’t reinvent the wheel,” says Maayan Shahar, SensPD’s CEO.  “But we have altered a very known device used in all hospitals that will hopefully provide a standard screening process for all babies.”

The goal is for such a test to eventually become standard for every baby born around the world, allowing the various treatments for autism to start as soon as possible. When started very early in life, some therapies have a success rate of up to 90 percent.

“It’s been known for a long time that it’s early intervention that makes all the difference,” Shahar says.

But the standard diagnosis of autism based on a series of evaluations often comes after a children has reached the age of 3 or 4, which is too late for some treatments.

SensPD is currently preparing to start clinical trials in Israel. It hopes that if all goes well it will get regulatory approval for its device within three years.

Rembrand’s son, now 35 and living in a group home in Israel, remains an inspiration for the company.

“We want to bring this to market as soon as possible, but in the most professional way,” Shahar says.  ”So that instead of being isolated, children with autism can be a productive part of society.”

While Yehudit Abrams was working as a postdoctoral fellow at NASA, her job was to research the potential use of ultrasound to monitor astronauts on long missions to the international space station. But when her cousin, a gynecologist and breast cancer survivor, was killed in a car accident in 2011, Abrams started thinking of other uses for the medical device.

“She was so passionate about the early detection of cancer, and I wanted to honor her for that,” says Abrams, a physician and mechanical engineer who immigrated to Israel last year from California. “That is what got me thinking about using some sort of portable ultrasound for early detection of cancer.”

Abrams founded MonitHer, a Jerusalem-based startup that is developing a handheld ultrasound device that women can use at home to monitor their breast tissue. The device and its potential to change the way breast cancer is detected is why MonitHer was named a finalist in the WeWork Creator Awards, which will be held in Jerusalem on June 20.

An early prototype of the MonitHer scanner.

Women using the device will scan their breasts once a month for about 10 minutes. A U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved software program then scans the images for any changes over time. If the software detects any potential problems, users will be advised to consult a physician.

By monitoring breast tissue over time, Abrams says women will be able to detect cancer earlier than the traditional method of self-exams where women feel each breast in order to find lumps or swelling.

“We are changing the paradigm from breast cancer screening to breast health monitoring,” Abrams says.

Once more than 100,000 women begin to use the device and upload their scans to the app each month, artificial intelligence and machine learning methods will be used to evaluate tissue changes.

While mammography has long been the best way to diagnose breast cancer, it is less effective on certain women, especially those with dense breast tissue. And the current protocols for breast cancer detection have recently been questioned for resulting in the unnecessary treatment of tumors that may never grow in size or harm a women’s health.

“We are wasting billions of dollars of year treating cancer that women don’t have, and this is because we have stopped innovating,” Abrams said. “Medicine is a dinosaur.”

Changing the system of breast cancer detection will not only save lives and money, but will give women more control over their medical care.

“We are empowering women,” Abrams says. “We are empowering the individual.”

When his friend Joshua Altman suggested that they could help provide clean drinking water to whole villages, Moshe Tshuva was dubious.

“When I first heard his idea, I told him it couldn’t work, because it wouldn’t produce enough water to be worth it,” says Tshuva, who has worked in the solar energy industry for more than three decades. “But it turns out that I was wrong and he was right.”

Together, the two engineers started Tethys Desalination, an Israeli company that aims to turn salty or polluted water into crystal-clear drinking water by harnessing the energy of the sun. Their easily installed device, which fits into a box that’s about a square meter in size, can produce up to 50 liters of drinkable water each day.

The system is scalable, so one device can meet the needs of a family, and a cluster of units installed together can sustain an entire village. Altman says the device could help save the lives of children in drought-stricken areas of Africa.

One device can meet the needs of a family, and a cluster of units installed together can sustain an entire village.

“And ultimately, it will allow those places without water to come back to life,” says Altman.

The device, which is being tested on a kibbutz in northern Israel, was recently named a finalist in the WeWork Creator Awards, which will be held in Jerusalem on June 20.

The idea for the device came to Altman back in the 1990s when was teaching a university course about water desalination techniques. He found himself frustrated by the limitations of desalination techniques.

“All of the processes use a lot of energy and are very aggressive toward the environment,” says Altman. “I thought there had to be a better way.”

Altman, who has co-founded several other successful startups, envisioned a cheap, simple, and energy-efficient desalination technique. The idea has garnered a lot of attention in recent months, with cities like Cape Town, South Africa, seeing their water supplies nearly run out.

The device is basically a weather system in a box, Altman explains. The sun causes the dirty water inside the box to evaporate. It then turns into mist and eventually drips down, producing clean water. This process, which mimics how clouds work, is repeated four times per cycle to maximize the amount of water produced.

“Basically we see how clean water is created in nature, through the water cycle of evaporation and rain,” Tshuva says.  “So we want to use this to solve the water shortage problem in a natural way.”

About 20 years ago, a group of Jewish and Arab parents whose children had attended the same private nursery school in Jerusalem wanted their children to continue to study together rather than be separated by Israel’s religiously segregated education system. So rather than sending their children to the usual Jewish and Muslim public schools, they started a new school called Hand in Hand.

At first there were fewer than 20 children, all in kindergarten, who studied in a spare room in one of the city’s schools. The school grew along with the children, adding a grade as they got older and bringing in a new group of kindergarteners each autumn. It now welcomes kids up to the 12th grade.

To help build relationships between Arabs and Jews, the nonprofit organization Hand in Hand now runs six schools with more than 1,800 students around the country. It has been selected as a finalist in the nonprofit category for the WeWork Creator Awards, which will be held in Jerusalem on June 20.

“We are not going to wait until peace comes to live together,” says Noa Yammer, who oversees international engagement for the non-profit organization. “We are just going to do it now.”

Rather than send their children to the usual Jewish and Muslim public schools, parents started a new school called Hand in Hand.

Besides six schools (and two more in the planning stages), the organization offers a variety of community programs for children and adults.

“We realized that we can’t just build a shared society through children,” says Yammer. “Adults also need to interact.”

Yammer says that the segregation within Israeli society — which is about 20 percent Arab — takes its toll on the country. It helps fuel the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which made headlines again in May during protests around Israel Independence Day.

But Yammer acknowledges that the intensity of the conflict isn’t going to go away overnight. The anger on each side is too entrenched.

“We live in a violent conflict,” Yammer says. “There’s a reason people are afraid. Our project is not an easy project. It’s actually a really hard thing to do in the conflict we live in, but it’s important.”

Dahlia Peretz, a principal at Hand in Hand starting in 2001, says that the school is designed to help students see past the conflict.

“In our divided society, relationships between Jewish and Arab children can succeed only if parties meet as equals, without any feelings of alienation,” she says. “We created a school where all children feel their languages and cultures have a legitimate place, a school where intercultural exchange can take place despite the unequal balance of power in our society.”

In addition to expanding its network of schools, Hand in Hand is developing a curriculum that any school — regardless of religious affiliation — can use to better educate children about tolerance.

The organization sees a growing interest all over the country, with more than 1,000 children on the waiting lists for the Hand in Hand schools. A win at the Creator Awards could help expand the program.

“This really needs to be a project in every city in Israel,” Yammer says. “We just need more resources so we can say yes to those asking us to come.”

Photo by Craig Stennett