Why is it so difficult to be kind to ourselves? Our negative thoughts and critical voices seem to be ever present which has a significant impact on our mental wellbeing and the ability to focus on the task in hand. We seem able to care for and love others yet nurturing and loving ourselves does not come easy.
One issue is the difficulty in ‘switching off’ particularly when digital technology has, to a large extent ‘taken over’. The work emails are only ever a click away and in some organisations there is an expectation that you will, in effect, be available 24/7 by way of responding to emails. This is unacceptable and detrimental to your health and wellbeing and should therefore be something you resist to ensure a good work life balance.
Digital technology offers many advantages however being online can be addictive and it can be difficult to disconnect. A few questions you can ask yourself to gauge your online dependence:
When did I last disconnect from my mobile phone?
How often do I check my mobile for personal matters when at work?
How often do I compare myself and my life to what I see on social media?
There is proven research demonstrating that multi-tasking is not only inefficient but can lead to poor quality work². When we are constantly checking digital technology we are, in effect multi-tasking. In order for our mind to be still and optimally functioning we should only work on one task at a time. When multi-tasking you are simply going between two or more tasks rather than being solely and productively focused on one, resulting in a loss of productivity. To help change multi-tasking behaviour start making daily Action Lists, this way you will fully complete tasks rather than having several half-finished which, at the end of the day can be very demotivating.
Increasingly, mindfulness is being discussed and practiced both in personal and professional contexts and is being seen as a great resource. The Dictionary definition of Mindfulness is:
“A mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique”.
A recent Harvard Business Review² has suggested that Mindfulness can improve business strategy as well as for individual practice. Mindfulness teaches us to ‘be present’ and to focus on the ‘moment’ thus quietening the negative chatter that can often be an undercurrent. There is increasing interest in providing Mindfulness sessions for the workplace to support mental wellbeing.
A great example of an innovative company addressing the challenges of digital technologies is Shine Offline. This was the brainchild of Laura Willis who recognised that in order for an organisation to be a happy and healthy place to work, staff needed to manage their relationships with digital technology. Another approach has been taken by Steve Peters, author of ‘The Chimp Paradox’³ who proposes an interesting mind management model that he believes can help you to become happier, healthier and more confident. The bottom line is you need to find something that works for you and allows you to nurture yourself and give yourself permission to unwind. This is obviously a personal preference and could include things like; an exercise class, crafting, walking, running, or simply resting.
Note to Self…
Switch off personal email and social media alerts while at work and similarly do the same for work emails when at home.
Take a break – don’t let email and social media alerts disrupt your personal life. For example you could establish ‘digital free’ time – this could be at mealtimes, children’s bed times etc.
Find something that gives you space and time which is protected.
Be mindful – practice being mindful every day. You will be surprised how quickly this will become easier and how still your mind will become. The ‘inner chimp’ will be calm.
Be kind to yourself not just to others.
1.Harvard Business Review – Mindfulness Can Improve Strategy too
2.Want to be more productive? Stop multi-tasking.
3.The Chimp Paradox http://chimpmanagement.com/the-chimp-model/the-book/
1.Shine Offline https://shineoffline.com/
Thank you to Jennifer, my lovely daughter for the gorgeous photo!