“Finish that RFP, email the client about costs, schedule the photo shoot, review scope changes, did I buy my brother’s birthday present? – wait, now I need to reschedule the photo shoot.”
Do you feel like your mind is constantly full of lists? In brand management, we’re always multitasking, going from one thing to the next, and generally running full speed ahead at all times. Sometimes it would be helpful if we could just pause, be present in the current moment, and consciously choose how we’d like to move forward. This is where the idea of “mindfulness” comes into play.
I know what you’re probably thinking: This is just a fluffy Millennial idea about how we should have peaceful, relaxing workspaces. Well, it’s way more powerful than that. It’s an idea that some people have centered their entire lives around.
Mindful magazine (yes, that’s a real magazine) defines mindfulness this way: “The basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.” More simply put, it’s the act of being aware of oneself, in the present. This means different things to different people, so try to think of mindfulness in the form of meditation, breathing exercises or controlled breathing, and even some yoga postures.
In a 2017 study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, of more than 85,000 adults, yoga practice among U.S. workers nearly doubled from 2002 to 2012. Meditation rates also increased, from 8 percent to almost 10 percent. There was also evidence demonstrating the benefits of mindfulness practices among workers related to both physical symptoms and mental well-being.
Studies are finding that mindfulness has tangible benefits in the workplace. Here are some of the most common:
Reduces stress and anxiety
Improves the ability to focus
Cultivates emotional intelligence
Helps you become less REactive and more PROactive
These are benefits we’d all enjoy, but it may seem like a lofty goal to practice mindfulness enough to make an impact. Here are some ways you can start practicing mindfulness at work (or at home):
Stop (or minimize) multitasking – Try to maintain focus on a single task, and then notice when your mind drifts off to something else. When this happens, mentally shut down all the unrelated thoughts entering your mind and stay focused on what you were doing.
Turn off all notifications – Turn off notifications and check email only when you’re intentionally breaking your focus from a current project. Same goes for calendar invites.
Breathe – It sounds too simple, but if you get an infuriating email or are rushing from meeting to meeting, take a few seconds to breathe. Just a short period of time practicing controlled or focused breathing can put you in the right frame of mind before going back to your work.
Practice daily – Committing to some amount of training every day is the key to progress and success. This can be counting to ten, sitting in a dark room, or doing guided meditation. Try to allot at least ten minutes a day – pick a location and time of day, and stick to it.
Take classes – Attend guided meditation or yoga classes, or sign up for a program like mindfulness-based stress reduction or Transcendental Meditation.
Download an app or two – They give you access to different types of meditation practices, let you set goals and reminders, and track your progress.
I hope this post has left you feeling inspired, relaxed, and thinking about how you might try a few mindfulness practices on your own. Who wouldn’t want to be more relaxed, focused, and productive at work?