There are many things that you can do to improve work-life balance. Some of them are huge. Others are small. They should all add up to feeling more balanced overall. One quick way to achieve that feeling while you’re at work is to tune in to your five senses.
Practicing Mindfulness to Improve Work-Life Balance
In essence, this is all a mindfulness practice. It’s all about taking a moment here and there to tune in to the present moment. Tune out the noise of work. Tune out the stress. By giving your full attention to your five senses, you allow your body to relax. You get more life out of your work day.
Your Five Senses as Touchstones
Use your five senses as touchstones back to yourself and the present moment throughout the day.
Surround yourself with pleasant sights that always make you smile. Change your screensaver to the most relaxing image that you can find. Place a photo of your favorite friends and family inside of your top desk drawer. Put a brightly colored sticker on your laptop.
Take breaks throughout the day to fully indulge in the sense of sight. Turn your eyes to one of your images and drink it in. You can even just take a fresh look at the old items around you every day. What’s the pattern on the carpet or tile in your office? What is the texture on the ceiling in the conference room?
Put in your earbuds for just one minute. Turn on the most soothing sound that you can imagine. It might be a favorite song or a nature sound or the laughing voice mail message of your favorite person. Block out all other noise and focus fully on the sound that delights you.
Smell is one of our most powerful senses. It evokes memory. It can change our mood. Figure out what scents make you feel more balanced. Then bring those into your work space with oils, candles, or sprays. You may have to be sensitive to your work mates and potential allergies. But a lavender sachet tucked into your purse and sniffed during the elevator ride can be a great way to ease your work day.
Focus your entire attention on your taste buds when you introduce very strong tastes into your day. Place a mint on your tongue. Bite into a fresh lime after lunch. Don’t just mindlessly drink your morning coffee but truly take a moment to savor it.
There are probably so many different tactile pleasures already around you at the office. You can also add to what’s there; a silk scarf, a fuzzy desktop plant, or a smooth stone in your pocket can all be literal touchstones that bring more balance into your day. Each moment of peace adds up.
Use Cues to Remember to Practice
You can use cues throughout the work day to remember to tune into your five senses. For example, one cue might be every time that you get a notification in Slack. (Of course, this depends on how busy your office is with their communication.) Another might be each time you open your email – or every time you see five or more unread email messages in your inbox. Each cue should be linked with one of the five senses, reminding you to engage in that practice. So, next time you open your email, pause and inhale a deep whiff of your favorite scent before proceeding.