Going faster. Multitasking. Hustling. This wildly hectic pace that we now call "normal" causes depression and anxiety - even though we don't admit it. More pragmatically, it threatens our ability to perform at our best.
Entrepreneurs must learn to remain calm amidst the chaos. The solution is mindfulness. Mindfulness improves your powers of observation, your control over your thoughts and emotions, your leadership performance, and your decision-making, all of which are critical to achieving success as an entrepreneur.
Here are five quick and easy ways you can benefit from mindfulness, despite your crazy schedule.
1. Take deep breaths
The fastest way to become more mindful is to focus on your breathing. It sounds absurdly basic, but it's an easy way to reduce stress. Taking just ten deep breaths, and focusing on your breath, can bring you back to the moment - providing calm and clarity.
The great thing about breathing is that you can do it anywhere, and no one is too busy to do it. In less than five minutes you'll reduce your stress, make better decisions, and stay productive and creative.
If you want a powerful breathing technique, check out Wim Hof's Breathing Method. I've done it for a week and enjoy it.
2. Enjoy your food
Many company founders pride themselves on eating quickly. Others multitask while eating, believing they can't even spare eight "unproductive" minutes.
They miss out on the fact that mealtime is a great time to be mindful. Examine your plate of food. Think about the farmers, truckers, and retailers who made it possible. Be grateful and use this moment to savor the flavors of your food and the joy of being alive.
3. Exercise with awareness
Exercise should help to clear your mind. But if you're like me, running is just another opportunity to re-hash your work-related concerns. Sure, exercise will keep you fit, healthy, and mentally sharp. But it should also help you to escape the mental grind.
Use mindfulness to become more in-tune with your body while exercising and you'll see it benefit you in the workplace. Get a sense for your own power and ability. When I started exercising in a more mindful way, I began to feel more powerful and creative at work.
4. Bring mindfulness to meetings
When you're in a meeting, be mindful of where you are. I take a few deep breaths and visualize the four corners of the room, filling the entire space with my awareness. It helps to ground me in the room, allows me to become an observer to the others in the room, and enables me to stay focused on the big picture.
Meditation has been the most transformative practice in my life. Even if you think meditation is not for you, or feel that you don't have time, consider the profound benefits of a 20-minute daily meditation practice.
Research done by Johns Hopkins University showed that mindfulness meditation can decrease anxiety and pain. The effects of mindfulness on reducing depression were equal to those of antidepressant medication.
If you cannot commit to 20 minutes a day, then start with smaller increments. Shoot for just 7 minutes of meditation a few days a week. You can do it in the morning or even at your desk.
If you're new to meditation, try Headspace, a guided meditation app that will help you learn the basics of meditation and keep you on track.
It is possible to slow down even the most hectic of lives. Don't dismiss mindfulness as a luxury or some New Age fad. The benefits are clear: improved productivity and reduced stress. You'll likely become happier in the process as well.