Startup Right: Add Mindfulness to your Work Routine

The Startup Right series is a place for the Canberra Innovation Network to share insights from mental health professionals that apply directly to entrepreneurs. We’re here for you, as part of the Virtual Coworking community, the Weekly Innovation Challenge and on LinkedIn

This article originally appeared on EAP Assist; EAP Assist is an Australian company established in 2008 providing employees with confidential phone counselling and digital support.

Mindfulness is about being present in the here and now, without judgement of ‘good’ or ‘bad’, or stressing about the future or past. Mindfulness is a practice, which means sometimes you may find it easier to do than others. (People don’t say they’re off to ‘play yoga’ the way they ‘play sport’; there’s a reason it’s known as ‘practicing yoga’, and that same reason applies here.) By doing small mindful activities regularly, you will feel the benefits of reduced stress and the quietening of unhelpful thoughts over the longer term.

How to Practice Mindfulness
Small actions that are meaningful to you are your key to practicing mindfulness. It’s not necessary to find large chunks of time in your schedule as an entrepreneur ⁠— you’re no doubt part of a small team (or even a sole founder) and the demands on your time far exceed your waking minutes. But if you can carve out just a few minutes within your regular schedule, that focus can really boost your positive mental health for the long term. Some ideas of simple mindful activities that fit into your daily routine at home and at work are:

⁠— Take your tea or coffee break away from the computer or work situation. Enjoy the tastes and smells and make it a special moment for yourself.
⁠— Be aware of your breath. Set aside just a few minutes to focus on your breath as you breathe in, and out. This can easily be done while you sit in the car before entering your workplace for the day or between meetings.
⁠— Make mono-tasking a productive meditation. Take a single task you can work on without other distractions and focus only on this for an allocated period of time. It could be a work task, like filing or stocktakes, or even deleting emails.
⁠— Write down what you’re grateful for. At the beginning or end of the day, think of, or write down, just one nice thing you feel grateful for. This can improve positive feelings and keep you aware of positive aspects of your day and interactions.
⁠— Play relaxing music. There are tons of free playlists on Spotify, YouTube compilations that are great for ambient noise, and free guided meditation tracks and podcasts you can build into your day.

Focus on the present. Take a walk or run, looking at your surroundings, noticing details in the environment or details of your body – the muscles moving, the breath.

Set digital boundaries. Schedule time away from your phone and other screens. This can help to separate “work mode” from other life activities.

For help with your own mindfulness, join the Virtual Coworking community and take part in their free weekly guided mediation and mindfulness sessions!