We live in a stressful and highly connected time. As smartphones and other mobile devices have become more widespread, 26% of American adults now report that they go online “almost constantly,” up from 21% in 2015, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in January 2018. Add in the high-pressure of working in the advertising and marketing industry, and it is easy to feel overwhelmed.
So what are we to do? Studies show that developing a practice of mindfulness and gratitude can significantly reduce stress and increase well-being. Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. That last part is the holy grail.
How do you start?
Start with the acknowledgment that – Thoughts. Become. Things. When you recognize the power of your thoughts, you’re taking a step toward a more balanced outlook. Negative self-talk-track can manifest and spread like wildfire within us and to our colleagues. We can counteract this by developing a practice of mindfulness and gratitude.
- Start with your breath.
Take a deep breath, pause at the top, and slowly exhale. It is as simple as that. This deep breathing, you may have heard it called pranayama in your yoga class, cleanses the body and spirit internally and on a physical level. The practice lowers the heart rate and reduces anxiety by activating the parasympathetic nervous system.
- Observe the moment.
You can practice mindfulness while you are showering, taking a walk or sitting at your desk. All you need to do is observe the moment you are in. This doesn’t require you to turn off your brain, just to pay attention to the moment. If a judgment comes up, just acknowledge it and let it pass, this is the no judgment zone. When you observe the moment you are not in the past (regrets) or the future (anxiety). The more you put this into practice, the more connected to the present you will be and the less you will find yourself in the dramas of your wandering mind.
- Try a simple meditation.
Mindfulness meditation and breath awareness are the simplest forms of meditation to do throughout your day. You don’t need a special cushion or outfit to do it. You can do it for 5 minutes or 30 minutes. You just need a straight-backed chair or you can even sit cross-legged on the floor. Focus on an aspect of your breathing, the air flowing in and out, your belly rising and falling. Listen to the sounds around you, the sound of your breath. Acknowledge each thought and be kind to your wandering mind. If you have a distracting though gently and forgivingly return to your breath and simply begin again.
- Keep a gratitude journal.
You don’t need to save our gratitude for Thanksgiving. Practicing gratitude not only strengthens mental toughness, but it also helps us to put situations into perspective and realize what we have. Starting the habit of writing 3-5 things you are grateful for in a journal either at the start or finish of the day can have profound effects on your well-being.
- Express yourself.
In addition to journaling, it feels good to express your gratitude towards others. Not only does it make their day better but it can do wonders for your mood as well. In the workplace, you will find that expressing gratitude for your colleagues in a specific and sincere way will also build trust in teams.
- Find gratitude in your challenges.
A famous quote from the Dalai Lama states, “When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.” Sometimes, looking for the learnings in a difficult situation can help you nail down what you have to be thankful for.
What do you do to practice mindfulness and gratitude throughout your workday?