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.

“Ten years ago most people here did not know what this brown paste was,” says Anthony Brahimsha of the chickpea dip that is now nearly ubiquitous on menus in the U.S..

Born to Syrian parents, Brahimsha knew that hummus in the Middle East is much better than that found in American grocery stores. With the help of Mike McCloskey, owner of Select Milk Producers, the sixth largest dairy cooperative in the country, he developed a hummus called Prommus that is higher in protein –– three times that of other dips. It preserves the traditional flavor by using cold pressure, rather than heat, in the kitchen.

“What Halo Top is to ice cream and Chobani is to yogurt, we are to hummus,” Brahimsha says, by way of explaining that Prommus is also changing the industry.

The company name is a combination of the words “protein” and “hummus,” but is also a play on the word “promise.” With 1 percent of sales benefitting the World Food Program to fight global hunger, Brahimsha hopes that the product can have a significant effect on ending hunger and making nutritious foods available wherever they are needed.

Prommus cofounder Anthony Brahimsha, who has spent a lot of time on humanitarian missions, believes his hummus could help feed the world.

While the initial idea was born out of his humanitarian work in refugee camps along the Turkish/Syrian border, Brahimsha has even bigger dreams. The world needs to find more ways to make nutritious foods for people who are going hungry, and he thinks Prommus and its innovative production process are part of the solution. Two patents are currently pending.

The company’s four varieties (original, red pepper, olive, and avocado) are sold in the Midwest, primarily in Illinois and Michigan. These flavors were taste-tested by Brahimsha’s fellow members at Chicago’s WeWork River North, a community that he says has been invaluable to the startup.

“There are a lot of co-working spaces, but not everywhere is a community of social entrepreneurs who are rooting for their peers,” he says.

A winner in the business venture category at the Nashville Creator Awards, he says he’ll be able to start the next stage of expansion for his company, primarily by adding staff.

“As soon as you win this award, all the blood sweat and tears that you put into the company comes together,” he says. “Everything that you have been doing, the people that were with you along the way, finally, it feels like an affirmation that you were doing the right thing.”

 

Melanie Faye grew up in Nashville, but she doesn’t credit Music City with her success. She credits Guitar Hero. Yes, that Guitar Hero, the video game that allows players to mimic the sounds and moves of their favorite stars. For Faye, it was Michael Jackson.

“I don’t think growing up in Nashville introduced me to guitar players,” Faye says. “My parents were chemists. I was not able to go to bars and see local shows. Guitar Hero introduced me to all this music I was not exposed to. Guitar Hero looked really cool. It made me feel empowered.”

So, perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise that Faye, now 20, has found fame via YouTube. After dropping out of college three semesters in to pursue her music career, Faye posted videos of herself sitting in her bedroom and playing covers of John Mayer and Mariah Carey.

“Guitar Hero introduced me to all this music I was not exposed to,” says Melanie Faye. “Guitar Hero looked really cool. It made me feel empowered.”

She also used the platform to debut some of her original work, which she describes as a mixture of R&B, hip hop, and pop. Her voice, serious guitar-playing chops, and friendly demeanor propelled those videos to more than 10 million views. She was so popular that the guitar company Fender tapped her to demo a new line of the instrument.

“I thought, ‘This is it! I’m viral. I made it!’ But it does not work that way,” she says. Faye makes ends meet by working at a local doughnut shop and teaches guitar. She also keeps working on her music the old-fashioned way, having been tapped to be the opening act for musicians like Noname and Mac Demarco. Her most recent gig was at the Nashville Creator Awards.

She is working on her first album, which she hopes will be out by the year’s end. A self-proclaimed perfectionist, Faye has been working on Homophone for years.

“If I had known it was going to take this long,” she says, “I wouldn’t have told people it was going to be out soon.”

Faye is also working to relieve the jitters that come with performing live, rather than in front of a camera. A recent show at the Hollywood Palladium was a game changer.

“I typically am really shy and inhibited on stage. But I felt so much support and positive energy, I just let loose,” she remembers. “I think to an extent you just have to have fake confidence at first. I walked up and had a confident demeanor and once I heard crowd cheering, then I was confident.”

“It happens overnight,” Maria Vertkin says. “An immigrant moves to the U.S. and goes from being a surgeon to washing toilets.”

College degrees and professional experience from their home country don’t always mean as much as they should when an immigrant starts a new life abroad, says Vertkin. She knows from experience: She spent her childhood in Russia and Israel before immigrating to the United States. But she realized that they have one thing that will always be of use to them: their language skills.

“It doesn’t make sense if you have something as valuable as a second language to not use it,” says Vertkin, who speaks English, Russian, Hebrew, Spanish, and Portuguese.

Vertkin, a Boston-based social worker, wanted to help train women to use their multilingual skills to their advantage. She saw a need that they could fill in the medical field. Hospitals in Massachusetts struggled to find interpreters for their patients who aren’t native English speakers. Without interpreters, expensive and even potentially fatal medical errors are possible.

A Found in Translation graduate shows off her diploma.

“The jobs are plentiful and the demographics are shifting,” says Vertkin. “Not only do they serve the local population, but medical tourists come from other countries and they need interpreters.”

The idea was a hit with the judges of WeWork’s Nashville Creator Awards. Found in Translation took home a $72,000 prize in the nonprofit category.

In 2011, Vertkin started Found in Translation to help homeless and low-income women achieve economic security by making their language skills an asset, rather than a liability. Within a few weeks of announcing the first class, she had 200 applications.

The nonprofit offers medical interpreter certificate training as well as other interpreter programs. And the training includes more than the core curriculum — childcare, transportation, job placement, and access to mentors for professional development are also part of the program.

The 186 graduates of Found in Translation classes between 2012 and 2017 earned approximately $1.86 million cumulatively more per year than they did before enrollment. That’s about $10,000 more per person annually. She says that if she wins in the nonprofit category at the Nashville Creator Awards, she can expand the program.

Classes currently take place in Boston, where Vertkin estimates they could easily double in size with the right funding. Every city in the U.S., she says, has the potential for success with Found in Translation.

“There is opportunity and need and we are connecting them,” Vertkin says. “The biggest risk is for employers not hiring multilingual employees.”

If Janett Liriano has her way, you won’t be using your FitBit much longer.

Liriano is CEO of Loomia, a New York-based firm at the intersection of tech and fashion. The company creates “intelligent drapeable circuits” that are soft enough to be embedded into textiles and can be safely washed and dried. Instead of wearing a step tracker on your wrist, it could be embedded into your running shoes.

That’s just the beginning of what these circuits can do. Those shoes might not just track your steps, but can also measure the pressure on your feet, giving you information on how you should adjust your gait. They might heat up and keep your feet warm in winter. And a light might keep you safer on a nighttime jog.

Loomia’s CEO Janett Liriano and founder Maddy Maxey

Liriano has two patents for her product and others in the pipeline for the smart fabric-enabling circuits. Her team is working with more than 80 brands on how they can integrate the smart technology into their designs. The current emphasis is on clothing, but the flexibility of the circuit opens the door to other products in the future.

“We are category agnostic,” Liriano says. “If you can make a washable circuit, you can put it on the floor. You can put it in wallpaper.”

Liriano, who took home third place in the business ventures category at the Nashville Creator Awards, sees potential in fields ranging from medicine to transportation.

Not only can Loomia transform the ways smart devices are used, it can also change what happens to all that data once it is collected. The company is looking at ways that consumers can sell their data to interested parties — or choose not to share it.

Liriano, a “born-and-bred New Yorker,” thinks the city is the right place for the firm. It’s one of the country’s great fashion hubs, but it also has a strong startup scene.

New Yorkers are inherently scrappy and resourceful,” she says. “For a business that is not super capitalized, that’s a good network. We are hard-core hustlers.”