Over a decade ago, I was working in the city. I was stressed, overworked, struggling with certain relationships and the idea of being calm was a pipe dream, much like riding a flying horse. Not long after that, the stress got too much. One day, my anxiety-fuelled outburst on the sales floor happened. In front of 80 colleagues, things got too much… so I stood up, screamed a lot and ran out the door crying. I’ll be honest, it wasn’t one of my proudest moments, but it was certainly one of my most important.
Does this sound familiar? Maybe it does, maybe it doesn't, but I imagine working late, being unproductive, feeling undervalued, covering more than one person's job, catching lots of colds and drowning in your to-do list does. As you read this, one in six of your colleagues is suffering from some form of mental health problem, be that anxiety, depression or stress. Perhaps this is even you.
Out of all the pressures you’re under each day, your working day is by far the most damaging and for that reason, I am here to help. Skip forward a few years when my mindfulness journey started and since then, I can wholeheartedly tell you, it‘s probably saved my life. I live each moment now, instead of worrying about the future. I create like I’m channelling Roald Dahl, instead of struggling to come up with something imaginative. I’m healthy, happy and most of the time managing pressure like an irritating niggle, instead of letting it develop into full-blown stress to consume and attack my body.
So what exactly is mindfulness and how can it help? Well, I like to keep things simple, so think of it as being aware of what’s happening in any given moment and being OK with that. Take breathing, for example. Being mindful is recognising that you’re breathing, to feel it in your body and be OK with it, whether it’s fast or slow, deep or shallow, loud or quiet. It’s a beautiful acceptance of what is happening right now.
Map this over into your everyday life and you can imagine that benefits of simply accepting difficult situations for what they are and not something to be fought. That’s powerful stuff. It’s also powerful to learn mindfulness may help you develop more patience, be more creative, make quicker decisions, respond better in challenging situations and much more. In fact, if you’d like a bit of science to back this up, the grey matter in your brain actually grows with regular mindfulness meditation, much like a workout without going to the gym! That’s my kind of workout.
To help you get started, here are 5 easy ways you can work more mindfully now:
1. Be mindful on the commute to work – instead of driving and missing the journey, look out the window and notice the different areas and landscapes you drive through. If you’re travelling on the train, instead of reading your newspaper, look up, look around, listen and observe. There is so much to see, hear and notice, I think you’ll be amazed!
2. Sit quietly at work. When you get to your desk in the morning, instead of rushing off to make your coffeeor tea, try simply sitting on your chair quietly. Listen to the sounds, take in the morning atmosphere and feel the seat beneath you while you breathe and notice your surroundings.
3. Take a breath. Every time the phone rings or you get a new email, use it as a reminder to pause and take a breath. Before you even check to see who the email is from, take one or maybe three deep breaths, feel the stillness of the moment, then you’re ready to handle whatever comes your way. One deep breath is all it takes to centre yourself and get into an alert, peak state for what you perhaps dreading a moment ago.
4. Observe your surroundings. When you’re out and about, even if it’s just a five-minute walk, try not to look at your phone; instead look up and notice the buildings around you, feel the ground beneath you as you take each step and allow the noise to wash over you instead of annoy you, no matter what you hear.
5. Pause before entering. Before you get home, give yourself a few moments before you open the front door – settle into your breath and gently notice how your body feels without judging that little neck ache you've got. Take a look at your neighbourhood with fresh eyes, notice the little flowers growing on the side of the pathway, listen to the children next door and as you put the key in the door, take one final deep breath and appreciate being home.
Emma Fairclough is a Happyness Coach and Mindfulness Mentor; Inspirational Speaker & Trainer (Creator of The Spiritual Stand-Up Show); Intuitive Card Reader, Hypnotist and Communications Specialist. Emma combines coaching, mentoring, mindfulness, NLP and intuition to move clients forward in their business, relationships, health and life as a whole.
To help you continue your mindfulness journey, Emma is delighted to offer you 5 days of free guided meditations to listen to at your leisure for the next month. To receive your first guided meditation now pop on over to soulcy.com/