Mindfulness in Consulting? - Techniques that help you to manage stress
A bit exaggerated, but when you think of “strategy consulting”, you combine a lot of working hours with a few night shifts and an infinite number of hotel and airport stays.
My own unfiltered experience: If you are a perfectionist who finds it difficult to say no and wants to understand everything, then night shifts and exhaustion are inevitable. There's sure to be another blog post about the art of saying no, prioritizing, and using 80/20.
Today, however, I would like to lay the foundation for many more posts on the subject of mindfulness. For me, mindfulness has become a lifestyle that I (at least try) to practice.
To quote the Mayoclinic: Mindfulness is a type of meditation in which you focus on being intensely aware of what you're sensing and feeling in the moment, without interpretation or judgment. Practicing mindfulness involves breathing methods, guided imagery, and other practices to relax the body and mind and help reduce stress.
I want to pick up some aspects of that quote and add my personal experiences:
In the moment: If we regret, our thoughts are in the past. If we worry, our thoughts are in the future. But we can only live in the moment and only act now. If you want to read more about how this attitude can positively impact your life, I can highly recommend Eckhart Tolle: The power of now.
Without interpretation or judgment: How often is there this inner critic commentating on every action we are doing? Judging our every movement. By just sensing “what is” and not “how it should be”, we get some distance and can see everything more clearly.
Meditation: If you are new to meditations or get abstracted way to easily I can highly recommend you a guided meditation. I love headspace, but there are also other apps or podcasts.
Breathing methods: For me personally, it helps to focus on my breath, deep inhaling and exhaling. Counting the breath. Sense how it moves through your body. Try it out in a stressful moment, it works wonders.
Imagination: If I am really stressed or frustrated, I try to imagine how I inhale all the good, positive energy, gold, sparkling and how I exhale all the dust, gray, stress inside me.
Other practices: If I realize that I am not in the moment and that there is total chaos in my head, I try to focus on my senses: What do I see? Hear? Smell? Again, without judging, just realizing my environment. Another practice that helps me is to really concentrate on what I do to get out of the autopilot. So, for example, if I am writing, to think about how the pen feels in my hand and which movements are required to write what I want to write. These techniques help to escape that “monkey head”.
Besides those “SOS” techniques, I try to work on my constant, reoccurring thoughts: Practicing gratitude to focus on what is already there. Be kind to yourself. Accept and forgive. And believe me, writing it down is so much easier than actually practicing it and for me personally, it is a constant challenge and really hard not to fall back to old habits. What motivates me to continue on this journey is that even though it takes a lot of patience, I realize a slow shift in how I treat myself.
If you want to learn more about Mindfulness, I can highly recommend the podcasts of Deliciously Ella and Laura Malina Seiler. Perfect if you sit in a taxi or waiting for boarding on an airport ;) I am also more than excited to soon share with you an interview with my yoga teacher (and personal guru) Sarah. Her attitude towards life and her way of practicing and teaching yoga make her to one of my biggest idols.
I would love to hear your thoughts about it, also if you have any other good podcasts, I am happy for your recommendation.