Mindfulness is based on the Buddhist philosophy of focusing your full attention or your awareness onto something.
You could think of it as a form of meditation. But put simply, when you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings. Instead of letting your life pass you by, you live in the moment and fully experience the present.
Self-Employment and the Art of Mindfulness
Your life doesn’t suddenly become perfect when you decide to work for yourself, especially if you’re in the early stages of building your business and getting things off the ground.
When you add juggling the demands of family life, what started out as a flexible career can become stressful and all encompassing, completely taking over your life and putting it out of balance.
This is where adopting mindfulness can be so vital. It’s not just a passing fancy. Shamash Alidina, one of the UK’s most well-known mindfulness teachers believes that just as people are beginning to realise we need to exercise our physical bodies to keep fit, they’re realising that we need to exercise our minds and heart to stay mentally and emotionally resilient, as well as focused, creative and compassionate.
Mentally and emotionally resilient. Focused and creative. Qualities that are especially important when you become self-employed. You need focus and resilience to keep going when you solely are responsible for finding and holding on to work. You also need to be ever creative in the way that you find work, for example finding ways of earning multiple income streams.
So how can you adopt mindfulness in your life?
Coping with Anxiety and Stress
Anxiety is a natural human feeling and everyone gets it. But if the feeling is overwhelming for you, try this mindful exercise. Every morning, sit up by the side of your bed and feel your breathing for 10 minutes or so. Let your breathing be natural – no need to change it. This will make you gradually feel calmer. Your mind may feel wild and distracted – that’s okay – so does everyone else’s. But be aware of your breathing around your nose or belly every time you feel anxiety too. Don’t block the anxiety – have a gentle approach with yourself. Remember, the feeling will pass – nothing lasts forever.
Of if you’re feeling stressed, try some mindful walking. The next time you go for a walk, begin with three deep breaths. Then walk a little slower than your normal walking pace and feel the sensation of your feet on the floor. Each time you get distracted, bring your attention back without self-criticism. The process is calming and helps to focus your mind and reduce stress. (Shamash Alidina, author of “Mindfulness for Dummies”)
Coping with worry over work and your career
Your work-life balance is a well-used phrase but you shouldn’t underestimate its importance. It could be something as simple as turning off your mobile phone and computer in the evening. At the same time you might want to measure your satisfaction with your life; is it fulfilling and worthwhile? What is the smallest thing you can do today to make even a slight difference to how you feel?
Any kind of change can be difficult. Of course change brings opportunity. It’s one of the reasons you’ve made this move or change in career. The energy released when you’re feeling stressed actually helps you to do the things required to commit to your new career. So rather than feel isolated from it, list what is exciting about it. What is in your control? See the challenge rather than the threat. Consider the well-known saying: “Don’t wait for the storm to pass. Learn to dance in the rain.” (Dr. Shane Pascoe, author of “Feel Good – How to change your mood and cope with whatever comes your way”)
Look after number One
And finally, don’t forget to look after number one! That’s you!
Feeling stressed can affect your immune system so you repeatedly catch colds, have stomach upsets, headaches and muscle pains. Examine your life and your commitments – what can you cut back? Look after yourself by eating well, getting a good night’s sleep, practising meditation and mindfulness. Nothing is worth sacrificing your health for, so do seek professional help if needed. (Sue Hadfield, author of“Change one thing”)