How to be Mindful During Busy Times
Have you heard the phrase “work smarter, not harder”?
It's all about finding new ways to do things so you don't need to sacrifice your time, energy and effort more than you need to.
Not only do I heed this advice with my work, I try to apply it to my life as well! Even when I'm busy, I use mindfulness to stay focused, remain calm and do what I need to do, without drowning in overwhelm.
If you're ready to manage busy-ness and start living smarter, not harder, this article is for you! Discover four meaningful ways to be more mindful during busy times and build a resilient, supportive mindfulness practice.
If your heart says no, you say no
How busy are you for other people? I'm asking you this question (lovingly!) because when I was particularly stressed and busy, it was rarely for my own reasons. It was because I said yes to everyone else, even when my heart said no. Be more mindful by listening to your instincts and allowing yourself to be guided by them. Sometimes, it can help to write things down so you can look at the situation more objectively. Simply write the request, how you feel about it and whether you instinctively want to say yes or no. Remember it's fine to be busy, but make sure it's on your own terms and for reasons you believe in!
Use your breath to manage overwhelm
Just like dehydration is a signal for water, stress and overwhelm are signals for mindfulness. If your heart is pumping, your mind is racing and your hands are sweating, it's time to tune in to your breath. Even if you only have a few seconds, one deep breath can be enough to help you find more clarity, calm and relief. For more breathing techniques, listen to this episode of The Mindful Kind podcast.
Change your thoughts
Mindfulness can be a powerful way to understand your thoughts and their impact on you. I actually keep a journal to write down any thoughts which trigger my emotional reactions, so I can be aware of which thoughts influence me to feel certain ways. Being “busy” often has negative connotations and our thoughts (perhaps, subconsciously) prime us to feel stressed before the busy-ness has even begun! If this is something which resonates with you, try the exercise below.
Write down all your thoughts about being busy. For example, being busy means I don't have time for myself. I don't want to be busy. Being busy means I get things done. When I'm busy I feel stressed. Being busy sometimes motivates me. Busy-ness can be fun.
Now, go through and highlight all the thoughts which will support, uplift and encourage you during busy times. Stick them up somewhere prominent and read them regularly and you might start to notice that being busy doesn't change, but the way you feel about it does!
Embrace the meaning of mindfulness
Mindfulness is about being present in a non-judgemental way, which is a brilliant headspace to maintain during busy times. As much as you can, keep bringing your attention to whatever you're doing and try not to place judgement on it.
How does this help?
One, you're less likely to multi-task, which minimises the chances of making mistakes and helps you remain focused to get things done faster.
Two, you might not have to experience as many challenging emotions, such as resentment for having to do the dishes, anger at someone else for slowing you down, or disappointment if you don't get everything done.
For example, let's imagine you're being mindful while you're driving to work on the day of an important meeting. You're paying attention to the road and you're aware of what is going on in that moment. Instead of feeling frustrated by a red light, you simply notice you're at a red light. Whenever you notice your mind wandering to the day ahead, you bring your focus back to the present by paying attention to what is going on around you.
Potential benefits of this mindfulness practice might be that you drive safer, you arrive at work feeling less stressed, you experience a calmer commute and you're ready to start the day with a clear, fresh headspace.