At this point, many of us are used to working at home, and perhaps are even good at it. But from the ping of Slack to your crying baby in the next room, employees have never been so distracted.
We used to have a commute, during which we could listen to music or a podcast, read a book or even sit in silence. Now, we take a few steps and instantly go from the kitchen to the office. But given how stressful PR can be, professionals working from home should still budget time in the morning for what I call a Mindfulness Commute—30 minutes to clear your head from all the noise of life.
What is a Mindfulness Commute?
A Mindfulness Commute is utilizing the time you would have normally spent commuting to simply rest and reset your brain. Just like when you listen to a podcast or read a book, your mind is taken away from the chaos of the morning and even away from the anxiety of the upcoming work day. And there are a few simple techniques I use and suggest my employees at Ditto PR consider that clears my head and prepares me for entering work with a positive attitude.
These three simple techniques can get you started:
Body scan: Found easily on Spotify, you can lay down and focus your mind slowly from your head to your toes, being aware of how each body part feels.
Binaural beats: Between 1 and 30 Hz, binaural beats create the same brain wave pattern that one would experience during meditation. When you listen to a sound with a certain frequency, your brain waves will synchronize with that frequency.
Mindful walk: Similar to a body scan, take a walk around the block. Start at your feet and be aware of how they feel. As you make your way up the body, take note of how each body part feels—touching your clothes or even from the weather.
Why a Mindfulness Commute?
It's not like many of us enjoyed sitting in traffic or running for a train—in fact, one study shows longer commutes lead to lower life satisfaction—but this block of time provided a much-needed buffer between our work and home lives. With our private lives only feet away from our offices, it makes it oh-so-easy to do just a few minutes of extra work, adding up to hours of unpaid work per week.
Also, since we can no longer pop into someone's workspace to ask a question, we have become buried in the pings of Slack and the hue of non-stop Zoom meetings. With our co-workers reduced to faces on screens, asking them to grab a coffee is no longer an option, evaporating what once had been a nice break in the workday.
You need a break! We aren't made to perform like this, so we have to adapt to this work environment. Mindfulness practices can give your mind the break it needs as well as some much-needed clarity.
And, hey, meditation is practiced daily by some of the world's most successful people, such as Oprah Winfield, Jerry Seinfeld and Lebron James. The exercise is backed by numerous scientific studies, which have shown that it makes practitioners' brains thicker, promotes creative thinking, sharply reduces stress hormones in people with anxiety disorder, and could help you to become less error-prone.
Going beyond your Mindfulness Commute.
It's good to come to work with a clear and focused brain, but given all the new distractions in our lives, this is something I encourage employees to schedule in their day too.
So, block out time on your calendar for a mental break from work, which could be before a big meeting or even after a stressful one. And during this time, put away your phone. One study showed that your "cognitive capacity is significantly reduced when your smartphone is within reach—even if it's off," and hence defeats the purpose of meditating.
You've already gained back the time previously dedicated to your commute, so use it wisely. Try out a Mindfulness Commute, and reap the amazing benefits meditation provides.
Trey Ditto is founder and CEO of DittoPR.