The topic of stress has been covered here more than once, specifically about how achieving your goals should be a source of conviction and energy, not stress and uncertainty. I’ve also written about how fundraising is fundamentally a stressful job, so we need to learn to use it to our advantage.
What’s been helpful for me is trying to be more mindful. Is mindfulness trendy right now? Yes. Does that mean being mindful doesn’t work? That’s up to you to decide. I want all of you to be the best fundraiser you can be, and that’s only possible if we deal with the issue of workplace stress head on. If that means being a mindful fundraiser, then let’s try it.
This is an issue you should talk to your doctor about before taking advice from a blog. What works for me may not work for you. That being said, you won’t see me publish anything on this topic that you’ll need to buy or swallow.
This definition of mindfulness is my favourite: the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.
That’s it. You don’t have to make being mindful any more complicated than that.
If you start Googling variations on the term, it’s easy to get lost. Is it religious? Is it complicated? Do I need to pay for classes? Where do I go? What books should I buy? And more questions like this can confuse and intimidate you. If this happens, come back to that original definition.
A good first step is to find a few minutes a day to close your eyes and try to quiet your thoughts. This video was helpful for me because I’d always thought I was doing something wrong if my mind wandered. I’d catch myself thinking “argh, now I have to start over!” instead of quietly refocusing without judgement. That’s become something I tell myself quite often – refocus without judgement. It’s not just useful when meditating. I find it helpful when trying to focus on a project at work, listening to a presentation, etc.
What’s the point of finding a few minutes a day to calm your thoughts? It’s that becoming more aware of what a quiet mind feels like will make you more aware of the times your mind is racing and needs to be refocused.
Think about your stress level on a scale ranging from 1-10, 1 being a post-hypnosis Peter Gibbons, 10 being a panic attack. If you sit at your desk each day at a ‘6’, you’ll be irritable and likely to get rattled by the smallest annoyance. Walk into your office at a 2 or 3, you’ll be more likely to focus on a project or report and less likely to stew in a quiet rage at the person who keeps leaving used tea bags in the sink.
Whether you’re sceptical, convinced or indifferent – that’s fine. I’d love to hear from all of you who may have used mindfulness to reduce stress, or any other tips you might have. You can tweet them to me at @brockwarner, or post below in the comments.
Free Mindfulness Resources:
Headspace (YouTube Channel): The full functionality of the Headspace app isn’t free, but the content on their YouTube channel is. The basics of meditation and mindfulness are covered in short, succinct clips.
UCLA Mindfulness Awareness Research Centre: You don’t need to be a student or in Los Angeles to access these free guided meditation resources.
HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW: Why Google, Target, and General Mills Are Investing in Mindfulness
TIME: 4 Rituals That Will Make You Happy, According to Neuroscience
CBC: Syrian refugees may work through trauma with art, horses and mindfulness