Stop Doing These Things To Improve Mindfulness

What does it mean to be “mindful”? According to, mindfulness is “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.” With an increased emphasis on mental health in today’s society, mindfulness can be a great addition to mental health self-care.

There are tons of articles about how you can achieve mindfulness in both your personal and professional lives. However, for this article we are going to take a different approach. Instead of telling you things you should be doing, we are going to look at the other end of the spectrum and highlight five things you should stop doing.

According to Forbes Contributor Karlyn Borysenko, “If you want to create a more mindful professional experience, it’s about changing your contribution and focusing on the things you can control rather than expending energy on the things you can’t. And oftentimes, it’s just about eliminating the things that don’t serve your goals.” She provides five things you can stop doing to bring more mindfulness into your daily routine.

STOP: Being Reactive To What’s Going On Around You

Let’s face it. At the office, you are surrounded by distractions. Even if you work from home, there are distractions in the form of pets, TVs, unfinished chores, etc. Before you know it, instead of crossing things off of your to-do list, you are instead constantly adding to it. As a result, the stress piles on and little things seem to set you off. According to Borysenko, “The key to managing your stress isn’t about putting an end to the chaos around you. Instead, it’s managing the way you respond to it.”

When you’re stressed, it seems like nothing goes your way. If you have a big deadline rapidly approaching, it just so happens that your boss adds more to your plate, or your coworkers are constantly asking for assistance. And that is just in the office! Not to mention the stress in your daily life which could boil over into work, and vice versa. Instead of focusing your energy on what the people are doing around you, focus on yourself and how you can get everything done regardless of your surroundings.

Next time you feel like you’re reaching a breaking point, stop what you’re doing. Take a deep breath and try to approach the situation with a different mindset. If you need to get up from your desk and take a walk or get a breath of fresh air, do it. By changing your approach and mindset to the tasks at hand, the experience becomes a positive instead of a negative.

STOP: Focusing On All The Things That Are Going Wrong

When you start worrying about things going wrong, chances are they will continue doing so. If you are constantly afraid of making a mistake, you likely will do so and the cycle will repeat itself. Things aren’t always going to go your way, both in work and in life. Instead of worrying about things out of your control, you can focus your attention on figure out ways to go with the flow and learn from unknown opportunities.

Borysenko brings up the following example:

“Say you’ve been fighting for the budget to support a new strategy you’re passionate about, but your request ultimately gets denied, taking pursuit of the project off the table. On the face of it, this seems like a setback. You could get upset about the loss, send angry emails to your boss and key decision makers and complain about it in the kitchen where everyone can hear you. But let’s consider what you’ll get with that contribution: Not only will that approach probably not convince them to give you the budget you want, but you’re also not setting yourself up to get future requests either, making the problem even bigger.”

Instead of worrying about this, you can try just going with the flow and letting things happen. Borysenko says, “you could approach it by acknowledging you’re disappointed but understanding that just because you got a ‘no’ today doesn’t mean it’s a no forever.”

STOP: Gossiping About Your Co-Workers

The quickest way to lose the hard-earned trust of your coworkers and supervisors is to spread gossip. In the heat of the moment, it might feel good to vent and get something off your chest. However, the temporary satisfaction is not worth the potentially permanent fall out.

STOP: Leaving Your Calendar Wide Open

If you work in a collaborative work environment, people are probably constantly putting meetings or calls on your calendar. Meeting and calls are a part of working, there’s no avoiding that. However, you can block time off for yourself to be productive if you really need to get things done.

Going hand in hand with not leaving your calendar open is learning the ability to say “no.” Early on in your career this can be fairly difficult because you want to please everyone and make a good impression on the organization. Sometimes people will try and schedule a meeting with you, but you have other things to do, so you need to learn how to say no. Another benefit of blocking your calendar is that it sends the message that your time is valuable and should be respected. When you stop leaving your calendar wide open and learn how to say no, you’re empowering yourself to take control of your day instead of letting everyone control it for you.

STOP: Being Overly Critical Of Yourself

I’m sure you have heard this before, but at the end of the day, you are your own worst critic. You likely aim to do your best work day in and day out, but since you’re a human, you will make mistakes along the way. Believe it or not, this is perfectly normal and acceptable! Making mistakes is bound to happen, but as you learn from the mistakes and don’t make the same ones repeatedly is when you start to grow. We’ve mentioned it in the past, but if you are constantly afraid of making mistakes at work in fear of the repercussions that follow, you are more than likely going to do so and the cycle will repeat itself. According to Borysenko:

“If you find yourself doubting your abilities at work, or having a case of imposter syndrome, you’re actually in a better position to be successful than someone who doesn’t. This is the Dunning-Kruger Effect in action – the idea that people who are legitimately competent can’t recognize that they’re incompetent. They lack the knowledge and experience to require that something has gone wrong, which are exactly what will enable you to iterate your way to a better solution.”

As you progress through your career and life, you should be constantly looking for ways to learn and improve. With this mindset, we can all be considered works in progress. Being hard on yourself isn’t going to help you get to the next level. Instead, it might stop you in your tracks before you can even get going. If you aren’t your biggest fan, chances are it will be difficult to find someone who can be.

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