Mindfulness for small business owners: 5 steps to stay mindfulStuart Taverner
The next segment in our self-care series is mindfulness for small business owners. This week, the government has released a three-step framework for opening up the country. From the economy and social behaviours through to education and travel, the framework offers an in-depth plan to get us back to normal – whatever that looks like.
Throughout COVID-19 there has been a significant impact on the Australian economy, particularly for small businesses. The Australian Bureau of Statistics has reported that 70% of small business will see reduced demand for goods and services, and 40% expect a reduced ability to pay operating expenses. But as Australia is successfully flattening the curve, there is hope for the future.
Getting back to the pre-COVID status quo will be difficult for many small businesses and the road ahead will be challenging; it is a fight for growth. It is in this fight where self-care and mindfulness will play a key part in staying grounded and keeping your eye on the final goal. In fact, setting goals and objectives will be essential over the next few years. For top tips on goal setting for small businesses, check out our business planning series.
But we are here to chat about mindfulness. To talk about the steps you can take to live the next few years in a mindful, relaxed way.
What is mindfulness?
Work-related stress manifests in many ways. Whether you are a sole trader struggling to relax in your downtime or a small business owner finding it difficult to concentrate during the working day, stress has a huge impact on your life.
As a popular tool for psychologists, mindfulness helps people to manage their thoughts and feelings for improved mental health. Mindfulness can adapt how the brain works and, in some cases, even change its structure.
Performed as exercises, mindfulness helps the participant to pay attention to the present moment using meditation and breathing exercises. This training stops people from becoming overwhelmed by strong negative emotions, improving mental wellbeing.
How to start
Mindfulness is available in every moment. It could be taking time to stop and breathe before rushing to your mobile when it vibrates. Or performing a body scan each morning to get in the right mindset for the day. Whatever the method, taking a mindful moment to reset is a fantastic way to manage stressful times.
Before starting, make sure to ask yourself: can I commit to this on a consistent basis? Successfully maintaining a long-term mindfulness routine requires practising 5 days a week for at least 20 minutes a day.
Like exercise, mindfulness needs
regular work to achieve the desired result. It’s also true, like exercise, high intensity for a few weeks and suddenly dropping off will not work. Mindfulness is a muscle that will waste away if not maintained.
So, how to start…
Mindfulness Step 1: Pick a regular time
After looking at your schedule, allocate 20 minutes each day to keep a consistent mindfulness routine. Whether it is in the morning before work or in the evening before bed, find a regular time to commit for the best results.
For some people, even 20 minutes will be a challenge. So, if this is you, try to incorporate mindful moments throughout your day. Whether it’s focusing on the sensations when combing your hair, brushing your teeth, or taking a shower, there are many chances throughout your day to be mindful.
The coffee concentration:
Before making a coffee, take a second to stop and appreciate the experience. Focus on the actions of pouring, the sound the water makes filling up the cup and the rising steam. After you’ve poured, notice the warmth of the cup in your hands, the aroma, the warm liquid and the taste with each sip.
Just in the act of making a cup of coffee, there are experiences that you’d usually miss. By concentrating on your coffee and making it a special time to meditate, it can make you feel calm and relaxed.
Mindfulness Step 2: Build it up
Jumping right into mindfulness practice can be overwhelming. Instead of taking twenty minutes right from the beginning, start with five for the first four days. In the following, three days take ten minutes. Then, on the seventh day, give twenty minutes ago. Build yourself up to the commitment. It will increase the likelihood of you sustaining mindfulness long term and help you to start the habit.
Mindfulness Step 3: Find somewhere comfortable
Find a place at home or at work where you can avoid being disturbed, get comfortable and creates good posture. Sitting on a dining room chair or even lying on your bed – if you don’t fall asleep – are great options.
Mindfulness Step 4: Breathe, but not too much
Shut your eyes, focus your attention on your breath and the weight of your body on whatever is supporting you. Whether that is on your chair, bed, or sofa, feel the support your body is being given. Without focusing on them, notice the noises around you and at the same time, concentrate on the following sensations:
- The air moving through your nose
- Lifting your abdomen as you breathe in and out
- The noises you can hear – creaking in the room, the birds, your neighbours, traffic, trains
- The feeling or texture of whatever is supporting you
The key here is to not focus on anything in particular but to just be aware of the physical sensations and noises around you. Try your best not to change your breathing pattern, but to train your attention to notice your regular, normal pattern.
Mindfulness Step 5: Keep calm
It’s highly likely that during your mindfulness sessions your brain will wander off and think about daily tasks or things you are worried about. This is normal and it happens to everyone. In this scenario, shift your concentration to your breathing. Learning how to move from the thinking mode to the awareness mode is all part of the practice. Becoming aware that you are worrying or thinking gives you the opportunity to flex the mindfulness muscle and come back to the breath.
The difficulty with mindfulness isn’t that it is challenging to perform, after all, in essence, you’re just focusing on your breathing. It is the overthinking and long term habit that are the main barriers to success. If you can manage to perform regular sessions daily, then you will feel the benefits over time. Remember, mindfulness is a mental muscle that will need to be worked on and flexed, to easily shift from thinking mode to awareness mode.
For other blogs within our self-care series, please check out: