Sydney Dogs & Cats Home partner Benny Button kicks off our Partner Perspective Series with an article on mindfulness to help your staff start their year right:
Being Mindful when ‘Busyness’ is back!
Most of us are coming out of what has hopefully been a restful and replenishing holiday season. But now it’s back to work and the resumption of the ‘norm’ where our modern lives and workplaces are busier than ever.
Before we know it demanding workloads and numerous responsibilities will be filling our calendars and to-do lists to the brink of bursting. The constant flow of information, email, and media competing for our attention at all hours of the day resumes. It’s not hard to see that we can become so busy being busy that we lose sight of what is most important to us, or even lose our sense of self and connection with others.
Our brains do their best to cope with these demands by setting habits of thinking, feeling, deciding and behaving that aim to help us handle our workloads and the high expectations we place on ourselves. It’s like having ‘default settings’ in our brains that guide us to navigate our daily experiences as if we are on autopilot mode.
We can all benefit from making time to slow down and tune into what’s important. We can reawaken our awareness and focus our attention on what matters – taking action mindfully. What’s more, we can practise doing this – even train this capability – because ‘busyness’ has become the default setting and our brains are switching into autopilot mode in an attempt to cope with the demand. This process is mindfulness, and it is something research shows us is incredibly valuable.
While the above context is serious stuff, we can have some fun learning ways to practice mindful awareness and building our attention skills. We can enjoy the process of firing, wiring, and rewiring our brain’s default settings and switching off our autopilot – all while experiencing novel and interesting experiences.
Here are five practical ways to practice mindfulness, each with clear action steps:
1. Mindful Breathing Breaks:
Action: Schedule short breaks (1 to 5 minutes) throughout your workday. During these breaks, focus solely on your breathing. Sit comfortably, close your eyes, and take deep, slow breaths. Concentrate on the sensation of air entering and leaving your nostrils, and the rise and fall of your chest. If your mind wanders, gently bring your focus back to your breath. If you would like an example of a practice watch this instructional video from Dr. Adrian Medhurst. Take a mindful breather
2. Mindful Eating:
Action: Choose one meal or snack each day to eat mindfully. Turn off all distractions like TV or smartphones. Pay attention to the colors, textures, smells, and flavors of your food. Chew slowly, savoring each bite and noticing the sensations and tastes. If you’re up for it take some time to reflect on the journey of the food – from where it was grown to how it was prepared.
3. Mindful Walking:
Action: Dedicate 10-15 minutes a day to go for a mindful walk. This can be done during a break at work or in your neighborhood. Walk slowly and deliberately, noticing each step and the sensations in your feet and legs. Observe your surroundings – the sights, sounds, and smells. Use this time to connect with the environment, allowing your mind to focus on the present moment. Did you know ‘Awe Walking is a thing? Curious? Take a look at this article.
4. Gratitude Journaling:
Action: Each evening, spend a few minutes writing down three things you are grateful for that day. These can be simple things like a sunny day, a productive meeting, or a kind gesture from a colleague. This practice helps to shift focus from the day’s stresses and cultivate a mindset of appreciation and positivity.
Action: During conversations, practice fully focusing on the person talking. Put away any distractions, maintain eye contact, and listen without planning your response. Notice the person’s expressions and tone. Be present in the conversation, acknowledging the other person’s feelings and perspectives. This not only enhances your mindfulness but also strengthens your relationships.
Incorporating these practices into your daily routine can help in managing stress, enhancing focus, and maintaining a connection with the present moment as ‘busyness’ kicks back into gear.
Co-Founder & Director
Want to learn more? Talk to Troy at email@example.com
**Benny Button partners with Sydney Dogs & Cats Home to assist staff with wellbeing as well as donating to help lost and unwanted pets.