How Does Mindfulness Support Your Work, Health, & Relationships?
by Live Better
Live Better was recently asked to speak on a panel of wellness experts on the topic of "mindfulness and empowerment", specifically related to work, health, and relationships.
The following was the prompt:
"In our culture of 24/7 connectivity, taking a step back is vital to re-energize the mind and the body. Being plugged in all of the time and overbooking work and personal schedules often leads to missed opportunities and lack of clarity. So how do you integrate fitness and mindfulness into your life in order to stay creative and focused?"
Let's unpack this idea and break it down into its individual parts in order to lay out a strategy.
1) Why is it important to take a step back from being “hyper”-connected?
Have you ever heard of “The Internet Browser Effect”? Our "operating system" is fatigued from over-use; we've got too many browser windows open. If you can’t read the tab description because you have 50 of them open, you’re in trouble. You’ve lost the ability to keep track of what you are working on and waste time switching back and forth.
Without clarity, we don’t know what we already have "open" and what we don’t, and fall into a trap of saying “yes” to everything. To the individual, we must learn to properly allocate our time (read: prioritize our time) in order to accomplish what we want.
We're also constantly receiving inputs all day long from mediums like social media, a 24-hour news cycle, and the "judgement" of our peers (online or off). We have FOMO to check in, see what others are accomplishing in our (10 minute) absence from refreshing our feeds, all at the expense of human interaction.
2) How do we (properly) prioritize our time?
In order to free up time to be creative on a regular basis, we must apply a principle that we often (wrongly) associate to hinder that action; discipline. We implement routines in our lives to be productive in controlled doses, which provides downtime to let the part of our brain that controls work capacity to relax, and let our right brain be creative. If we’re worried about our to-do list (which you just complicated by saying yes to 10 more work engagements) we aren’t letting our brain “play.” We are unable to make non-obvious connections, which is our unique creativity.
Fitness, and more broadly physical and mental well-being, provide the strength and endurance (read: energy) necessary to complete these tasks of discipline and creativity. In this way, we prioritize our health by being mindful of the way we spend our time. It is the proverbial “refilling” of the glass from which we drank. When it runs empty, we crash. We don’t want a glass even half-full - we want one all the way full.
3) What are some specific ways we incorporate movement to practice different forms of mindfulness?
Strength training: gives vitality ("I feel stronger and more full of life.")
Running: provides mental clarity (we've recently started to run with no headphones, which means no music and no podcasts).
Yoga: brings “flow” (we can connect the mind and body through breath)
Rock Climbing: induces creativity (brings back “play”)
Surf/Snowboard: provides adrenaline (and connectedness to nature)
4) What are easy ways to practice mindfulness in your daily life other than physical activity?
Meditation (try the app "Calm" or "Headspace")
Walk a different route to work each day (besides the physical piece of walking, it creates varying environmental inputs to your brain creating moments of "presence" as you take in the "new" world around you)
Eat (at least one) meal without your cell phone, TV, or iPad humming in the background
Journal (try making a to-do list for the following day at night, writing a gratitude note to start or end the day, or simply free form how your day went)
The most important thing to takeaway from your experiments is what works for you. Your "list" or morning routine doesn't need to be 15 items long; it should match the demands of your day and prime your mind and body to CRUSH it.
Mindfulness at its broadest definition is simply awareness. Put down the phone, quit whining about the weather, and change things up. Want a new job? Apply for some by making time in your schedule (read: create a google calendar invite to spend one to three hours sending emails to people and guard that time like your money and livelihood depend on it...because they do). Want to learn a new skill? Start today.
Mindfulness is presence. What's making you feel alive today?