When it comes to work, you’d be forgiven for wondering how mindfulness in business can actually be a ‘thing’; but there are some super-simple ways you can incorporate mindfulness into the way you work.
Business tends to involve a lot of forward thinking; goals, forecasts, predictions, trends; and sometimes looking backwards; analytics, appraisals, reviews…but what about the ‘here and now’? Mindfulness brings you to the present moment and is a powerful tool to incorporate into your daily routine at work and home.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is essentially awareness and presence of self.
the practice of maintaining a non-judgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basisMerriam Webster https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/mindfulness
Why Mindfulness in Business?
It gives you time and space to just stop for a while. Mindfulness in business can help you to slow down and appreciate the moment. In the short-term, mindfulness can help you to feel calm and grounded; in the long-term it can help you to reduce stress and anxiety, boost your motivation and may even help to achieve your goals.
And that’s not all! Here are a few more benefits of mindfulness:
- Increased focus and productivity
- Promotes a positive outlook
- Improved listening and communication skills
- Enhanced creativity and problem solving skills
- Better stress awareness and management
Creating Space for Mindfulness
Before you get started, it’s best to create some space for yourself so you aren’t disturbed. Technology and social media can be really distracting, so where possible turn your smartphone to airplane mode and turn off the sound on your computer. Eventually you’ll be able to be mindful no matter what is going on around you, but for now, minimise noise and distractions.
You might also want to choose a set time that you’re going to be mindful. That might be a reminder on your phone or something you add to your diary. It’s all too easy to forget to be mindful and a few little nudges here and there can really help.
Most importantly, start small, and remember that mindfulness can be as simple as closing your eyes and taking one conscious deep breath in and out.
7 Ways You Can Be More Mindful in Business
1: Create your space. Make your workspace as calming and beautiful as you can. Minimise clutter and try and keep your desk tidy. Clutter makes us feel stressed and it’s hard to be mindful when you keep being distracted by piles of paperwork to sort out, or things that have just built up on your desk.
Remove the things which make you feel stressed and bring in things that invoke feelings of calmness, such as plants, crystals, pictures or candles. When you are having mindful moments, you can look at these things and appreciate your mindfully curated environment.
2: Check in with yourself. Stop what you are doing; close your eyes and do a body scan from head to toe. A good way to do this is to imagine a calming blue hula hoop, slowly moving down over your body. Ask yourself: “How am I feeling today?” Whatever comes up, just acknowledge it without judgement. For example, if you have tension in your shoulders, rather than berate yourself for doing too much gardening at the weekend, just accept that it’s there and bring your attention back to the scan. Do this slowly whilst breathing deeply.
3: Engage with nature. Even when you are sitting at your desk, you can engage with nature. Being in nature can help to lower levels of cortisol in your body, in fact, a review of 24 Shinrin-yoku (Forest Bathing) studies confirmed that simply looking at forest landscapes reduces cortisol by 13.4%, while walking in the woods decreases it by 15.8%.
One thing you might consider is creating a nature treasure basket for your desk, filled with pebbles, shells, leaves, acorns and twigs. Collect your treasure when you next go for a walk, using your intuition to choose things you’d like to touch and hold. Watch this video to see a treasure basket in action. Once a day, spend a few minutes mindfulness going through the items in your basket. Pick an item you’re drawn to and close your eyes. Feel the shape and weight of it in your hand. Next, bring it close to your face and nose; what does it smell like? How does it feel against your cheek?
4: Love the thing you are doing (and only that thing). Mindfulness is not just about stopping and breathing; you can also be mindful when you are working. One way to do this is to focus wholly on one thing at a time. Make a commitment to work on a particular task for a set amount of time. You could use the Pomodoro technique, working in 25 minute blocks, or use an app such as Forest; both are great for productivity and focus. Set an intention to enjoy this time, working slowly and methodically. Imagine the pressure of the task being lifted away as you calmly start working. If any stress arises, close your eyes and take 3 slow, deep breaths and return to the task.
5: Make gratitude an essential part of your mindfulness in business routine. When things go wrong or we’re having a bad day, it’s human nature to get caught up in negative thoughts; we can’t help it – it’s called the negativity bias. So if you get a snarky email or a just can’t get in the business groove, you might well find yourself on a downward spiral of self-doubt and negative inner chatter. Rather than thinking about how bad things are, try and turn your thinking round. This does take conscious effort and isn’t always easy!
One way to remember to catch those negative thoughts is to have a rubber band around your wrist and ping it when thoughts come up. When this happens, think instead of 3 things to counteract the thought. For example (after receiving snarky email); negative thoughts:
“I’m not cut out for this…how dare she/he…maybe I’m not good enough/qualified enough…”
This could ruin your whole day, or even week if you let it. Instead ping the band and respond from a place of gratitude and kindness:
“This is more about her/him than it is about me…I don’t know what is going on in their life right now…I have had great feedback from XYZ (other clients) in the past…I will respond when I feel calm…this can be a lesson for me in some way…this will be ok, things always work out in the end”.
Building awareness and slowing down can give you space to deal with hiccups in a more mindful way. You can also make gratitude part of your morning routine. Sit quietly to journal and write down all the things you are grateful for in that moment and why you are grateful for them.
6: Accept what you can’t change. It can be really frustrating when things don’t go your way. Maybe you didn’t meet a goal you were desperate to hit, your posts aren’t getting engagement on Facebook, or you feel like everyone else is steaming ahead whilst you are moving slowly. Some of these things you might be able to change, some you cannot. You can’t control the Facebook algorithm but you can research ways to get more engagement on your posts. You didn’t reach the goal, but you can review the goal and set a more achievable one next time. You can’t stop everyone else moving at their pace but you can focus on your own business and know that how we perceive things is often different to how they actually are.
How fast or slowly other people grow their business is out of your control, so keep focused on your achievements, no matter how small. Remember, it’s your business and it’s ok to go at your own pace.
7: S-l-o-w things down. It’s a fast-paced world out there! There are constant pings, notifications, news updates, things to do, places to be…it’s no wonder it’s hard to be mindful with all the noise and busyness of life. Slowing things down can really help… literally slowing things down; moving slower, walking slower, breathing slower and working slower. Imagine you are slowing everything down by 75%…and then 50%…and then 25%. What would that look like? It will feel a bit weird at first but once the dust settles and you realise how much calmer and in control you feel, you’ll soon be embracing slow in all areas of your life.
When you slow things down, you create space; space to breathe, to think, to be creative, to be calm, to be mindful. This can actually help you to be more productive, not less. So when you have “so much to do”, rather than speeding up, see how much better things are when you slow down instead.
One final thing to remember is that you have to give yourself permission to be mindful. Many business owners feel like they should always be doing something and find it hard to switch off or rest. Remember the benefits that mindfulness in business can bring and give yourself the gift of time to be mindful; your body and business will thank you for it.
If you’d like to learn more ways to be more mindful and calmer in your business, come and join the Calmpreneur Facebook group.
What has been your experience of mindfulness in business? Feel free to share your experience or tips in the comments.