Determining your own well-being through mindfulness

I recognise that there is no defined script of how best to perform in these changing times, but possibly the below tips can help you sustain your well-being, mindfulness and ultimately allow you to be prepared to perform in the “New Normal”.

In our previous article, we looked at gaining perspective on what you can and cannot control. The aim of that article was to establish a sense of control and a sense that you can manage what you are experiencing. Now we add the further complexity of how to maintain your well-being whilst still performing and completing what is required of you. I say what is required of you, as for some of us our work requirements have changed. Life looks different. Whether this is at home, work, in your personal capacity, or in your relationships. The more I learn over this time, the more I hear the new buzz words “The New Normal”. Which sounds scary right? We are being prompted to prepare for the unknown, not knowing what that means. What does performing in the “New Normal” look like?

Does that make you feel a sense of relief or fear?

For me, the words made me think. I reflected that whilst the expected roles I need to play are the same, and I need to achieve my outputs as I did before, the throughputs are looking slightly differently. I became mindful of the need to somehow focus my behaviour in order to enforce this adjustment. I hope some of the below tips can help you with your own adjustment.

Firstly, focus on yourself, and getting your mindset right. Remember from the last article, you have things that you can manage even in these difficult times. And one of those things you can manage is your mindset.

Change your mindset to a Growth Mindset. As depicted in the picture below, catch yourself when you are falling into the Fixed Mindset which can lend itself towards negativity when dealing with the current context. To be successful at the “New Normal”, you need to be able to adapt your thinking to one that helps you manage the uncertainty and see the opportunities. You will be challenged during this time, but by facing challenges head on, we are stretched to meet our potential.

Maintaining a Growth Mindset helps you to welcome the transition we are facing. As per the first Habit in Stephen R. Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” “You can start to be proactive” and intentional about your approach. Yes, changing times means uncertainty, but it also means new opportunities. You just need to ensure that you capitalise on these in a rapid and focused manner. So, in the words of Stephen Covey, you need to “Begin with the end in mind” i.e. start your day in the way you would like to finish it.

1. Start the day positively.

From all the articles and webinars I’ve seen, this strategy looks different for everyone. Whether you like to:
• wake up an hour earlier to make the most of a quiet house and enjoy your 1st cup of coffee in peace;
• or if you like to get “Infront” of the day by beginning with your emails before the rush;
• or if you find that exercise or meditation boosts your feel good hormones;
• or if you like to watch the morning breakfast show on TV;
• or if sorting out everyone else at home before you begin your day;
Whatever you identify as motivating, there is enough evidence justifying that doing the task that makes you positive and start the day with the right mindset, is worth taking the time to do. The literature on Self-Compassion encourages this too.

According to Kristin Neff, Ph.D Self-Compassion is about displaying understanding and kindness towards yourself. It requires you to acknowledge that you are going through a difficult time without judging yourself for not being 100% alright. Having self-compassion means that you accept that you are human and therefore need to meet your needs in order to face the difficulty. When trying to start your day off positively, it is important not to feel guilty about what that looks like for you as long as it is something that is good for your well-being.

Once you have obtained that level of positivity that helps you feel that you can tackle the day:

2. Start your day with a plan in mind so that you can maintain your focus.

What one thing do you want to achieve today that will leave you feeling satisfied? Even if it is just one thing to cross off your to do list, write it down, display it where you can see it throughout the day, and make your ‘To-Do’ list motivating.

3. Plan for distractions in your day.

Yes, I said plan to be distracted. Being human means, it is realistic that we will be distracted at some point during the day. We all need to balance our tasks with our other needs to ensure that we sustain our energy and motivation during these trying times. Even if it is putting one nice thing you would like to do on your list and assigning a time period to it, schedule it as an action item to tick off your list. We all need to spend some time on things that engage our brains, that interest us and fill our tanks. For me it is taking time to read. As and when I see articles during the day, I save these and during those times that I feel my head is beginning to hit the wall, I pull out an article that piques my interest and often I feel the brain fog fizzle away as I pay attention to something that energises me.

A further tip with regards to distractions, is to use them as motivators – e.g. if you want to have that 5-minute coffee break or a quick trip outside in the sun, push through the frustrating task. Then when the task is complete, without judgement, allow yourself to grab some caffeine or some sunshine. During your motivational treat, be mindful of the enjoyment you feel. Savouring the nice things you do for yourself goes a long way to improving your overall well-being.

In conclusion, remember that having a Growth Mindset means that you acknowledge that your efforts and attitudes determine your outputs.

Therefore taking that time to get your approach to the day correct means you are more likely to get the best out of the opportunities that you have, and you are more likely to perceive potential challenges as opportunities to learn. Furthermore, being mindful of our internal experiences allows us to manage them appropriately, and most importantly, also allows us to savour the positive moments we do have to help us to sustain our motivation.

We all need to embrace the “New Normal” as best as we can. Therefore, acknowledging that we are human, that we are not perfect, and that we need to sustain our energy and drive (albeit at times through small kindnesses to ourselves) can at least ensure that we are not too hard on ourselves when we don’t get it right the first time, and therefore still have the courage to get up and learn from our stumbles and successfully adapt to our “New Normal”.

Katherine Roper
Industrial Psychologist / Senior Consultant at Orgro

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