The pressures of managing a team and juggling a demanding work-life balance can often be overwhelming for those operating a business. Being a business owner or director is widely acknowledged as a challenging role, often involving long hours and big responsibilities.
With this pressure it’s no surprise that stress can be all consuming and take over your life, making it difficult to concentrate. Mindfulness is a common practice used to reduce stress and anxiety. While practising mindfulness might not be up everyone’s street, it is a proven technique to help de-clutter the brain and improve clarity of thought.
Mindfulness, which has its roots in Buddhist meditation, aims to move your thoughts away from the preoccupations of your daily life, and instead concentrate them on increasing your appreciation of the current moment. The term ‘mindfulness’ has been creeping into regular conversation over the last few years as the practice has been included in the workplace by household names such as Google, GlaxoSmithKline and PricewaterhouseCoopers. In fact, at this year’s World Economic Forum, mindfulness was one of the hottest topics, with multiple sessions not only devoted to the science behind mindfulness, but also how to practise it.
Mindfulness can not only change the way you work, but increase your productivity in the workplace. The aim is to become more aware of thoughts and feelings, so that instead of being overwhelmed by them, you can manage and respond to them better – a useful technique used when in pressured situations.
Incorporating simple mindfulness techniques into your daily routine can help to build your resilience to external stresses, allowing clarity of thought and a clear headspace for decision making. The following 3-minute mindfulness technique can help you to regain control of your thoughts and emotions:
- Step 1: Stand or sit up straight and close your eyes. Start to acknowledge what is going on with your body and what you are experiencing right now. First, gently investigate what thoughts are crossing your mind. Acknowledge these as ‘mental events’. Secondly, consider the feelings you are having. Notice any uncomfortable or unpleasant feelings without trying to suppress or change them. Finally, gently explore with your mind what body sensations you have. Scan your body for any areas of tightness or tension. Again, acknowledge them, but do not try to change them
- Step 2: Redirect your attention to the physical sensations of breathing. Use each breath to anchor yourself into the present. If the mind wanders into the past or starts anticipating future events, acknowledge the thoughts, and then gently bring your attention back to your breath
- Step 3: Expand your field of awareness beyond your breathing so it includes a sense of the whole body – including your facial expression and posture. If you become aware of discomfort or tension, imagine your breath could move into and around the part of the body where the discomfort is. Explore the sensations and accept them, rather than trying to change them
By Nicki Cresswell, Wellbeing training co-ordinator, CABA