By Simmone Harding
Working in the PR field, our devotion to connecting clients with the community can sometimes get in the way of our devotion to ourselves. Luckily, through the practice of mindfulness, you can create an optimal work-life balance without compromising your commitment to work or your commitment to yourself. In simple terms, mindfulness is centered on being present in the moment and aware of our behavior, void of any judgement or goal. The concept of mindfulness is simple, but the execution is not. For those of you like me with a type A personality and perfectionist tendencies, the idea of being mindful seems like a complete contradiction to our nature and impossible to achieve without an advanced yoga teaching certificate. Yet, research, including these pieces from Help Guide and Outwit, have shown that practicing mindfulness has several health benefits, including lower stress levels, better immune functioning and improved focus and memory. So read on, my fellow workaholics, for three powerful mindfulness tips that will improve not only your professional output and attitude, but your general outlook on life.
Tip 1: Put your phone down and look around.
In our digital world, it’s become harder to unplug from the hectic and seemingly never-ending barrage of daily text messages, social media notifications, and emails. At Breakaway PR, we strive to be incredibly responsive and fully-informed on behalf of our clients which can lead to not knowing when to turn it off. This stimuli overload takes us away from the physical world in front of us and into a world of emojis, memes, and hyper-communication. To be more mindful, start by setting a limit for screen time. If you have an iPhone, there’s a handy “Screen Time” menu in the Settings app, allowing you to track how much time you spend on your phone and on each app. There’s even an option to schedule time limits for certain apps and downtime from your screen. If you have no self-control when it comes to your devices, utilize these features to slowly curb your device addiction. The less time you spend on your phone, the more time you’ll spend living your life. Yes, even at work.
Tip 2: Take Your Time and Don’t Multitask
This tip may go against the grain of our modern lifestyles (especially working in public relations) but there are multiple reasons for why you should focus on one task at a time. Multitasking makes us feel more productive, but research shows that it increases our rate of error and decreases our working memory. When you complete one task at a time, you focus on it more deeply, get more meaning from it and greater fulfillment. Just as important, slow down while completing the task. Being deliberate and thoughtful in your actions promotes better attention, reduces stress, and relieves the feeling of being overwhelmed.
Tip 3: Meditate, Meditate, Meditate
If you work nine to five (and usually longer), are a student, or just constantly on-the-go, it’s important to schedule time for a meditation break in the morning. That’s right — don’t leave your meditation until the end of the night because you’ll fall asleep. If you need a guide on how to meditate, it goes something like this: sit in silence, focus on your breath and try to clear your mind for at least five minutes.
Meditation is an art that needs to be practiced and requires the discipline to ignore all distractions. The focus needed to maintain a blank mind comes naturally to very few people. The first few meditation sessions are the most difficult because your thoughts will start to wander. This is okay. Observe the thoughts without reacting to any feelings they may evoke. You may not make it to five minutes the first time you meditate, but making a habit out of it will improve your self-discipline and elongate your meditation session. In my opinion, meditation is a lot easier if it’s done outside. Nature has an incredible ability to make you feel centered and more conscious, which is exactly what mindfulness and meditation is all about.
Fortunately, between campus and my internship work space, there are ample spaces and places to step outside, get some fresh air and practice what I preach.