Entrepreneurs can easily become overwhelmed, exhausted, and unproductive. Meeting the demands of a business and living under the pressure of money concerns will do that to a person. Yet, many entrepreneurs try to meet demand by placing yet more demands upon themselves, which results in perpetuating a negative, counter-productive cycle. There's a significantly more powerful approach, one that's too often dismissed as "woo woo". Try practicing mindfulness. We know that mindfulness can boost immune function, lower anxiety and stress, and improve brain function. That's the short list.
Since the language around mindfulness may be considered ambiguous, I've done some translation work for you here. This list hardly touches the surface, but it's a good start. Go ahead, stretch your boundaries and make time in your life to practice mindfulness. Both you and your business will thrive.
Live in the now.
Worrying about the future or lamenting about the past, and checking your messages instead of engaging with your kids are examples of not being in the now. Instead, be mindful of the present because your world unfolds in the present, not the past or future.
How: Try to observe when you are in a worry state and bring yourself back to what matters: the now. Take at least five minutes a day and literally do nothing but focus on your breathing. It helps to build the discipline of living in the now and it promotes blood flow, increases circulation, and reduces stress and blood pressure. Ironically, you will do more as a result of doing nothing but breathing.
When you feel scattered and overwhelmed, getting grounded will sharpen your awareness, enable you to prioritize, and help you gain focus. When you are not grounded, even the smallest thing can distract you. Being ungrounded can also result in clumsiness and forgetfulness.
How: A more literal translation is, being connected to your body, the earth, and immediate environment. Since being grounded is about connection, activity is important. Every two hours (or when you're overwhelmed) take a break and get your body moving. Drink plenty of water. Pay attention to the solid surface beneath your feet. Go outside and walk barefoot in the grass. Or, do that crazy thing you've probably made fun of in the past: hug a tree!
Raise your vibration.
Like attracts like, and when you are feeling low, acting outside of the integrity of your values, and expecting the worse, you will attract more of the same. Your low vibration will bring others down, negative expectations will keep you from seeing greater opportunities, and loss of faith in yourself will perpetuate itself in how others see and respond to you. In the simplest of terms, raising your vibration involves making selfless, positive choices in your life.
How: Everything you think, say, and feel becomes your reality. Pay attention to your negative thoughts and take steps to turn them around. Instead of pushing the thought away, acknowledge it, ask yourself if the idea is true or beneficial to you, and then turn it around to a positive. Change your "buts" to "ands"--it's difficult to keep up a negative rant when you reduce the use "but".
Find your center.
The term centering refers to your awareness, attention, and intention. When life is chaotic and stressful, centering yourself brings you back to your vision and purpose, restores creativity, and raises your vibration.
How: I find it amazingly helpful to set an intention for each part of my day. See, hear, and feel yourself moving effortlessly through every experience with clarity, focus, ease, and awareness. Move through your day with purpose. When you lose focus or feel stressed, practice being in the present by taking purposeful breaths to help slow things down and release stress before going back to what you're doing. Using positive affirmations also centers us.
Gratitude is not simply about saying thank you. An intentional practice of gratitude is likely to produce a dramatic change in your life. Studies show that giving and receiving thanks increases the release of dopamine: a neurotransmitter that is linked to the brain's complex system of motivation and reward. Living in gratitude slowly changes the way we perceive life by adjusting what we focus on.
How: Keeping a gratitude journal can have a profound change on your life perspective. It also helps to achieve all the above mindfulness goals.
Each day, task yourself with noticing three things for which you are grateful--experiences that, if you stop and notice, bring a touch of joy to your heart. For example, an employee who went all-out on a project, a few kind words from a stranger, a parent interacting lovingly with their child, and things you may have taken for granted in nature. Each evening before bedtime, spend a few minutes writing a paragraph about these experiences. Describe how they made you feel and why. This routine will gently nudge you into greater awareness--living in the now.
The changes you'll see as you integrate mindfulness into your life are subtle, yet powerful. Pay attention to the little shifts in your energy and attitude. Stick to it, the rewards are so very worth it.