Many of you may be aware of the ‘Mindful in May’ campaign running this month? If you have ever been curious about mindfulness or meditation then this is the month to kick start your journey. A little extra motivation, you would be contributing to an amazing cause, which aims to provide more clean water to those that need it across the world.
Mindfulness has been very dear to both myself and Emma’s hearts in the last few years. It was a complete game-changer for me in the way I was living and leading in my life. As someone that has suffered mental health challenges in the past, I’m a passionate advocate of thinking about your mental health in the same way you would think about your physical health.
Perhaps you can relate?
Several years ago before my wellness journey began, who I was as a leader in life and business was very different. I wore my busyness addiction as a badge of honour. I made massive personal sacrifices in order to feel like I was ‘doing a great job’. I was working millions of hours, constantly stressed and burning out in both my body and mind.
In my mind I started to feel quite isolated, distracted all the time and often unable to focus. My inner critic was reaching a fever pitch, which resulted in me judging others and myself harshly. To say I had poor mental health and a sense of depression was an understatement.
Does any of this sound familiar?
This scenario is all too common these days due to the VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous), work environment that we are operating in and communication technology fuels the ‘always on’ nature of our work lives.
It’s no wonder that reported stress-related presenteeism and absenteeism are costing the Australian economy $14.81 billion a year. Research from the Mindful Leadership Institute revealed that 47% average time is spent mind-wondering; 70% of leaders report regularly being unable to be attentive in meetings; and 2% regularly make time to enhance personal productivity.
So if you are reading this and thinking ‘this is me!’ you would not be alone. Our clients, friends and family are struggling with the same challenges I was.
If I could give you 1 piece of advice I’d say the first step is self-leadership
What do I mean? Take responsibility for caring for yourself first. As Jon Maxwell says “ We must first learn to lead ourselves before we can more effectively lead others”
One of the best ways you can start this process is to look at the things you might be doing to support or detract from your mental health. The first question you could ask yourself is;
Are you stuck in your head all the time?
If you have a sense you are feeling ‘mentally fried’ (technical term!) Your ‘monkey mind’ is distracting you with a million thoughts or you are second-guessing your decisions, then you’re probably in your mind all the time. You’re probably feeling quite disconnected from your body and not listening to it’s needs then, boom; suddenly you have a health break down – cold, flu, back or neck injury. A ‘set-back’ that we as leaders can not often afford.
Start practicing getting out of your head and back to listening to your body. We asked our meditation teach Jaye Carcary to provide some advice on the best mindfulness techniques he uses in our programs to start this process.
Jaye says “your thoughts are simply words, noise that is happening around you, and not to you. With every breath, you have the choice to disconnect yourself from your thoughts, as you mindfully rest in the stillness that lives in you.”
For those new to meditation he recommends starting with a ‘body scan meditation’ designed to guide you to shift from your mind back into your body. We love Jaye’s 20 minute guided relaxing body scan meditation which you can check out now for free!
Mindful Daily journaling
You could also try journaling to clear your cluttered thoughts and get everything in your head out onto paper so you can let things go and be in your body again. Here’s 4 steps to get started;
- Grab your favourite journal and pen
- Sit down before bed and write continuously, not letting your pen leave the page – this is called ‘free writing’
- ‘free write’ everything that is coming to mind be it prior in the day or in the moment
- When the flow begins to slow, tapper off, pop down the journal and hop into bed
This for us, promotes a restful and deep sleep. Give it a go or find out more techniques here.
My personal favourite. I head out most mornings on a mindful walk where I connect more deeply with nature and my own internal state, checking in how my mind and body are feeling. To activate more mindfulness when you are out walking bring your attention to what is around you using your 5 senses;
- Take in the beautiful colours with your eyes
- Feel the wind on your skin
- Hear the birds tweeting
- Smell the fresh cut grass
- Taste the salt from the ocean on your lips
After you’ve tried one or all of the above techniques ask yourself these questions: How do you feel now? Are you more connected to yourself and your body? Is it easier to see what you need to do? Take note of your before and after.
The more you practice these techniques the more you will train your attention to become mindful in the present moment, getting that ‘monkey’ firmly off your back!
Want to bring more mindfulness training into your workplace?
Talk to us today about launching our Self Leadership Wellbeing Programs in your business which includes Learn to Meditate Programs and Mental Resilience training. Book your complimentary, 20-minute, ‘start thriving more’ call with us now to get started.