Tools for Tough Times: Mindfulness

Today, remember that you are strong, competent, and fulfilling a vital role in the chain of life for the people you are serving.  To help you stay strong in the storms that accompany your mission, check out these ideas on the simple practice of mindfulness.

Mindfulness meditation supports healthy responding and well-being even in stressful times.  With mindful awareness practices we can traverse those moments of both mindlessness and full-mindedness by being mindful with greater focus, calm, and agency.  Mindfulness practices help to develop ways to respond with intention as opposed to reacting habitually. Formal and informal daily mindfulness provides ways to live and respond with calm, courage, and wisdom.   It creates space in the moment to be aware of self and others, and to make choices for your own well-being and ongoing renewal.

Some of the benefits described in research literature on mindfulness practices include the following:

  • Reduced rumination. Several studies have shown that mindfulness reduces rumination, the continual returning to the same thoughts, which is especially common in the presence of negative thoughts. 
  • Stress reduction. Many studies show that practicing mindfulness reduces stress reactions.
  • Boosts to working memory and increased ability to focus.  The cognitive performance benefits are found both generally and in high-stress situations.
  • Less emotional reactivity and more cognitive flexibility.  For most people the ability to stay emotionally and cognitively engaged and productive goes up with the practice of mindfulness techniques.

Below are resources you might find useful in exploring the usefulness and the practice of mindfulness:

https://www.apa.org/monitor/2012/07-08/ce-corner

https://blog.mindfulness.com/meditation/benefits-of-mindfulness

https://www.helpguide.org/harvard/benefits-of-mindfulness.htm

Mindfulness tips and tools.

Make time for mindfulness practices, even if for only short periods during your day.  When you notice the stress reactions building in you, take a few minutes to practice grounding and mindfulness to regain clarity, calm, collected thinking and emotions. 

A simple practice might be to pause before getting out of bed in the morning or before going to bed at night for a few intentional breaths connecting with the movement of your breath in your body.  This can be used for breathing, grounding, prayer, or other mindful practices.

The three-minute breathing space can be something we can practice through-out the day.  Stopping to breathe intentionally, even if only for three breaths when the day gets away from us, or before starting a meeting, and when taking a break. It can become habitual even in stressful situations.

If you are leading a team, allow your team to take a few moments for mindfulness practices when they notice the stress reactions building.  Encourage these practices after or even during a particularly stressful passage in the day, and as a regular practice to start out with and maintain calm and focus each day.  Provide simple mindfulness tools and tips to staff, and if possible, provide a quiet place for use as a brief retreat for mindfulness.

Some apps for your formal mindfulness practice of meditation, yoga, body scans, etc. check out CALM, INSIGHT TIMER, HEADSPACE (Headspace series on Netflix too), TEN PERCENT HAPPIER.

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