A recent article New York Times article titled, ‘There’s a Name for the Blah You’re Feeling: It’s Called Languishing’ achieved viral status, catching people’s attention with this apt word for what everyone’s feeling.
The article describes languishing as, “a sense of stagnation and emptiness. It feels as if you’re muddling through your days, looking at your life through a foggy windshield.”
Feeling reluctant to wake up, not feeling like working…not quite depressed, but definitely not flourishing. This dominant emotion, unfortunately, creeps up on you.
One of its biggest threats is that you may not even realize you’re feeling it. The other biggest threat is that it can have long-term effects.
As leaders, we can’t have our employees everywhere languishing, can we? Not to forget that we’re already dealing with a burnout epidemic.
It got us thinking – what can you do to sidestep being in this situation? What can you do to pull yourself out of the fog?
What can you do to change your small business culture and help yourself and your employees survive – let’s not go to thrive – under these circumstances?
Mindfulness, a simple answer, and a buzzword for the last few years comes to mind.
- Defining Mindfulness
- How Does One Achieve a State of Mindfulness?
- 5 Essential Yet Simple Practices to Cultivate Mindfulness in Times of Crisis in a Small Business Culture
- 1. Practicing Gratitude
- 2. Meditation
- 3. Mindful Eating
- 4. Being a Good Listener
- 5. Spend Time in Nature
- How to Make Mindfulness Part of Your Small Business Culture
Mindful.org defines mindfulness as ‘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.’
Perfect! Exactly what we need at the moment, right?
How Does One Achieve a State of Mindfulness?
Practicing mindfulness seems straightforward enough on any other day…consistent practicing being in a state of mindfulness is all you need. Think of it as a muscle that needs to be exercised; training your mind to be fully present and cognizant of each moment.
In times of crises, however, our minds go into overdrive or – as in the case of languishing – just go numb. They’re more difficult to train, and staying present and separated from the situation can seem impossible, especially in today’s fast-paced, high-pressure small business culture.
We’re here to tell you it’s difficult but not impossible. With a few simple steps, practiced often, you can cultivate mindfulness and deal with the situation of crisis.
Let’s get down to it.
5 Essential Yet Simple Practices to Cultivate Mindfulness in Times of Crisis in a Small Business Culture
1. Practicing Gratitude
Gratitude is a powerful weapon when fighting negativity – it’s the one emotion that helps you keep your head above water, ready to welcome the day. A lot of people, experts included, swear by activities such as gratitude journaling to ‘practice’ gratitude and bring mindfulness to your life.
Here are a few ways you can keep this powerful emotion front and center during times of crisis:
1. Gratitude Journaling
Wake up and write 3 things you’re grateful for every morning. As simple as that. It helps you feel the gratitude inside & out!
2. Thank People
Express your gratitude to people around you, for any small acts of kindness or simply for being there for you. A simple thank you with a smile, or a thank you note, will make you feel as good as it does them.
3. Pass on Acts of Kindness
Do small acts of kindness for people within your home. Doing something for others can make you feel brighter about yourself!
Similar to doing acts of kindness, volunteering your time or effort to those less fortunate than you will help build gratitude and fulfillment in your day-to-day life. Now, you don’t have to step out of the safety of your house, you could do something online.
Similar to journaling, but closer to meditation. People often talk about visualizing in your mind’s eye what you want to become reality. Taking a few minutes every morning to visualize the people, experiences, things, etc. that you’re grateful for is a great way to bring your gratitude to the front of your mind.
6. Find Something to Look Forward to
Whether it’s a breakfast item or a business development, start your day with something to look forward to and be grateful for it!
This is probably the first thing that comes to mind when you think ‘mindfulness’.
Meditation is a powerful practice for putting your mind to the moment and leaving your problems and daily distractions aside.
CEOs swear by meditation as a daily practice, and you’ll find most high-performing CEOs make an early morning, exercise, and meditation a part of their routine.
If you haven’t tried it before, though, meditation can be a challenging practice – training your mind to switch off and simply be in the moment isn’t as easy as it seems, and can take time and effort to master.
The biggest incentive, we’ve found, is that you have to want to meditate and be present in the moment, to be able to do it successfully.
Here are a few meditation tips and best practices for you to master the art:
1. Practice Often
Once or twice a day for a few minutes is best. Early morning meditation is best to clear your mind in preparation for the day, and a nightly meditation is great to prepare it for a restful sleep.
2. Start with Guided Meditations
You can try guided meditations to be able to channel and control your thoughts.
3. Find a Comfortable Spot
Experts suggest sitting cross-legged and upright, but that’s not necessary.
You can even use a backrest, though your head should remain upright without leaning against a surface. Some meditations – especially nighttime ones – work with a sleeping posture too.
4. Focus on Your Breath
This is a simple trick that helps you stay in the moment. Focusing on your breath going steadily in and out helps prevent your mind from wandering, as it is bound to do, to begin with.
5. Be Forgiving
You might find it hard to sit still and clear your mind of thoughts in your early days. Don’t beat yourself up about it! Find a comfortable posture, and every time an errant thought comes by, acknowledge it and let it drift away.
The more you try not to think of it, the harder it will be.
3. Mindful Eating
This one may surprise you, but practicing mindfulness in day-to-day habits that we otherwise take for granted is a powerful way to become more mindful in general.
Mindful eating essentially means to eat with great attentiveness to your food, without distraction, and with a complete appreciation for what’s on your plate.
It’s a practice that helps bring peace into your life and is, in fact, very useful in treating eating disorders, anxiety, and other such physical & mental challenges.
As a leader or executive, you’re likely to be scarfing down meals – especially breakfast and lunch – without a thought to what you’re eating.
Mindful eating helps you slow down and be present in the moment, so you can better train your mind to stay present and separated from the stressful work situation in a crisis.
Here are a few tips for eating mindfully:
- Begin with a moment of appreciation for the food on your plate – even if it’s not a meal you enjoy, find one thing to be grateful for!
- Chew slowly – we usually tend to chew too fast, which doesn’t do wonders for digestion and means we eat more than we need to because we feel full much later than we should.
- Eat till you’re 80% full, or till when you’re just full
- Eliminate distractions such as the TV, gadgets, etc. – even if you’re eating alone!
- As far as you can, eat in silence and keep the between-chews talk to the minimum
4. Being a Good Listener
In times of crisis, we tend to rush through things, including conversations. As a leader, that means we’re barely listening to what our colleagues have to say as we move through the day.
In a corporate culture, this can do a lot of harm: as your company moves through a time of crisis, employees need to feel heard and acknowledged, and you need to feel like you’re on top of things.
Being a good listener will slow things down for you while making you more approachable and understanding in a crisis – essential for the company to successfully pull through, and for your employees and team members to feel like they can count on you.
Here’s what you can do to stay in the moment and be a good listener:
- Make it a point to stay in the moment and put aside all other tasks – no multitasking, responding to emails, etc. while you’re in the middle of a conversation
- If you need to move your attention to an urgent matter, make sure to excuse yourself for a moment
- Use verbal cues and facial expressions to let the other person know that they’re being understood
- Don’t speak over the other person – even if you know what they’re trying to say
- Repeat what you hear as a key takeaway so they know they’re being heard
- Be as transparent as you can – in times of crisis, your hands may be tied in being able to help each and every person. Be transparent about the situation and what can be done.
5. Spend Time in Nature
In times of crisis, it’s important to take care of yourself first so you can continue to give 100% to your organization. Exercise and nature play a big role here.
There’s plenty of research that shows that spending time in nature has a positive impact on health and reduces stress, anxiety, and improves our well-being. In fact, research from Cornell University for their students showed that as little as 10 minutes does the trick!
Exercising has the same positive impact on health, so why not combine the two? An early morning walk, run or even a few stretches in the part can do wonders for starting the day with a clear mind and on a positive note.
And while this might seem like more you can do, here are a few ways to get in some healthy time with nature:
- Step Out First Thing in the Morning – you’ll always have slightly cooler air in the morning, and that does the trick for clearing your mind!
- Get Any Nature You Can – unless you have a park by your house, you might not be able to get in the midst of heavy nature every morning. A tree-lined sidewalk does the trick too!
- Start Light – if you’re not used to running, don’t aim for a rejuvenating 2K on the first day. Just start with a good brisk stroll a couple of times around the block!
- Set Goals – Once you’ve gotten started, set small goals that increase the amount of exercise you do progressively
- Don’t be Rigid on Time – You might get half an hour one day, but an early start may mean only 10 minutes on another. Don’t skip it! Take any few minutes you get to step out amid nature.
How to Make Mindfulness Part of Your Small Business Culture
Observe yourself for a couple of weeks. If you find your mindful habits make it easier for you to deal in a time of crisis, why not share the benefits?
Find like-minded people at work who can champion the lifestyle with you, and create a committee that will help employees lead more mindful lives. The best way to help everyone move through a time of crisis is to make mindfulness a part of your small business culture!
Here are a few ways you can make mindfulness a part of your small business culture:
- Spread awareness about mindfulness!
- Hold workshops/activities for practicing acts of mindfulness such as meditation
- Put up attractive posters (if you’re working from the office at the moment) encouraging employees to take a minute away from work, enjoy their meals, feel gratitude, etc.
- Bring in plenty of plants to increase green spaces and contact with nature in your workspace
- Champion an open-door policy not only for yourself but for HR & managers at all levels, so employees know they have someone to talk to when they find it hard to cope
And that rounds off our list of simple yet essential practices! Mindfulness is far from unachievable, so we hope you feel ready to get started somewhere and make it a part of your life. You’ll see a world of difference in the way you deal during times of crisis!
Have any other tips/suggestions to practice mindfulness? Let us know in the comments below!