Charlotte James, Account Executive, Engine Group
*ping* email notification – client needs something from me urgently. They need it now.
*ping* text message – flatmate asking me if I have paid the bills. Again.
*ping, ping, ping* bursts of messenger notifications – friend asking me what’s up with the guy I am seeing, what’s my plan this weekend and if my head still hurts from that party… (put it all in the one damn message?!)
And just like that. I forget to breathe.
Whether it’s a flurry of panicked texts from a friend or emails from a client – when we’re already feeling the stress – little triggers like these can cause us to close up, shut off and frankly go a little crazy. Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention to the present moment. It gets us out of that unhealthy mindset and encourages us to really ground ourselves in our current environment.
By practising mindfulness we are giving our bodies and minds the tools it needs to help manage the stress of everyday life (even more important when we consider the sh!t storm that has been 2020). As individuals we already deal with varying levels of stress and anxiety… at Engine, we have found that by leveraging our current office environment and incorporating a little more Zen into the day-to-day, we can reduce the negative impacts it causes – the result: we feel more enabled to concentrate, relax and ultimately be more productive, not only in our workspace but our personal lives as well.
Although we are a business, we operate like a family unit. We value the individual and support them in a variety of different ways. It’s about sitting down and nutting out the best ways people can continue to produce amazing work, without sacrificing mental health. Ever heard of the saying in football where you have to make the ball work harder than the player? it’s about making efficiencies to the way the game is played, so that the player can last the distance. Same thinking applies. It becomes about working smarter, not harder… and with a stronger mental foundation, we know that there will be a better outcome overall.
At Engine, we do Mindfulness Mondays which is an initiative run by our resident yogi and is an opportunity to delve into mindfulness practices and learn new breathing techniques which have the long-term benefits of helping us develop coping strategies, especially when feeling overwhelmed. We have also converted a room (previously used as storage space) into a spanking new think space – complete with cushions, armchairs, plants and of course – a fluffy rug. The idea was to create a space people could all escape to. oh. And it all packs up and allows us to roll out some yoga mats – ain’t nothing quite like a little moment of meditation. It is a space that is conducive to mindfulness away from the hustle and bustle of the office main office. We also feel that WFH (working from home) shouldn’t just be the hot topic of COVID, it’s something that we have always encouraged, not just accepted. To get the best out of our team, we work together and support each other…that makes us the agency we are today. Afterall, how can you create positive change if the people behind the creative thinking aren’t feeling ‘cup half-full’ themselves?
So, what else do people have access to? Well, organisations like Reach Out have some great ways to help incorporate mindfulness practice into our daily routines. Here are a few of my favourite tips and tricks to help you out along the way…
Focus only on the present moment.
While out on a walk, on the bus or even having a shower – you can practise mindfulness by trying to focus only on the present moment and not pay too much attention to thoughts about past or future. When we concentrate on what’s happening around us, we are less likely to get caught up in our own thoughts. Think about the temperature, the sounds you can hear, what you can smell. Inhale. Exhale. Are you tired? Hungry? Focus on how you feel.
Practise mindful breathing.
Our resident yogi instructor and mindfulness guru (Kory – Creative Director at Engine) is a huge advocate for mindful breathing. Its simple. Easy to implement. And can be done almost anywhere. Ground your feet and take a few extra minutes to focus on your breathing – eyes open or closed. Think about what the breathing feels like, what it sounds like and where you feel the breath within your body. Feels good right?
Common misconception: Yoga and meditation are for hippies. Wrong! Meditation is a great way to dive a little deeper into developing mindfulness. You don’t need candles, incense and a mat. To do this you just need to sit in a quiet spot, eyes closed, and focus on your breathing. If you find your mind wandering (which is normally the case… don’t worry you’re not doing it wrong) then try and lead your mind back to your breathing. There are some great apps out there which can help – check out Headspace or Smiling Mind.
Make it a habit.
3 Tips for incorporating mindfulness into your everyday routine.
The following tips will help you incorporate mindfulness into your everyday routine:
1.Wash the dishes. Try focusing on washing the dishes. Listen to the water fill up the sink. Feel the warm water on your hands. Smell the dishwashing liquid. When you notice your mind wandering, bring your attention back to your senses.
2.Have a quick stretch. Take a moment to focus on your body (such as by doing some stretching exercises). It gives us a break from our own headspace. Take your time and focus on how your body feels.
3.Eat a snack(don’t have to ask me twice!). Focus on what you’re eating, rather than on your thoughts. Best not to do this one while mid-Netflix binge. This helps you avoid just mindlessly eating and the imminent realisation of “where did that all go”, and instead teaches you to take your time and pay attention to each mouthful. Pay attention to the taste. The texture. The smell.
Mindfulness reduces stress and anxiety. So, however you choose to fit it into your day, we hope these tips will enable you to improve your concentration, ability to relax and cope under stress.
Also, tell that friend of yours to keep it all in one message. Or just mute them.