How To Start Showing Up For YourselfMay 24, 2022
BY MONICA RAGSDALE, Intern at Alisha Leytem Wellness and Catching Leadership
In honor of National Mental Health Awareness Month, I want to shower you with well-deserved praises for a moment.
You have survived a pandemic; and I would strongly argue to include that on your resume in bolded ink. The amount of endurance you have is incredible. However, that is not to say that living through the pandemic was a walk in the park; but, you made it to the other side. You may have made it to the other side with scars, scratches, and bruises. You’ve experienced heartache, grief, and imperiled amounts of stress and anxiety– all while trying to live life as normally as possible. Even if you do not feel like it, you are strong, and you deserve to be celebrated.
As life-altering as the Covid-19 pandemic was, the lessons it brought were just as metamorphic. We were enlightened on the importance of cherishing time spent with loved ones, advocating for a more healthy and sustainable work-life balance, and prioritizing one's mental health. Creating a lifestyle that incorporates regular use of these practices is still a work in progress for many of us, and that’s okay– no one changes overnight! While I know that it can seem like a daunting (and maybe even an insensitive) commitment to show up for oneself before showing up for others, it’s actually more considerate. Think of it this way: an empty cup can’t pour into another cup, much like an emotionally-drained human can’t pour out much substance or be their best self in their relationships or in their workplace. By proactively focusing on tending to your mental and physical well-being, rather than avoiding or suppressing psychological distress, you can show up for both yourself and for others.
And that’s where mindfulness comes in.
Mindfulness is the mental state of becoming aware of the present moment, and of your emotions, thoughts, and bodily sensations, while non-judgmentally accepting them all. And contrary to popular belief, practicing mindfulness is not a new trend that just recently arose in the United States, but has been around for about 2,500 years, originating in Eastern religions and traditions.1 It was first introduced to Western medicine and society in the 1970s by Kabat-Zinn through his stress-reducing mindfulness training and through the Center of Mindfulness that he founded at the University of Massachusetts Medical School (1). However, mindfulness in the West boosted in popularity starting in the 1990s, and even more so now due to the pandemic and the decreased stigmatization of conversations surrounding mental health.
Mindful living can be practiced in a variety of ways, but at its core it is to be present, aware, appreciative, reflective, and actionable (2).
In a world where so many things and people constantly compete for our attention, it is easy to become detached from the present moment with a mind that is elsewhere. Most people view the ability to multitask as optimal effectiveness, especially us business people; however, studies show that singular-task focus yields the highest quality, effectiveness, and productivity (3). Being present means resisting the urge to autopilot through your day. Alisha Leytem’s book, The Six G.O.L.D. Keys to Well-Being, offers a multitude of autopilot tendencies that can be replaced with their mindful counterpart. Some of my favorite include: replacing rushing through your day in a reactive mindset with flowing through your day with awareness and focus, replacing mundane repetition with an intentional change in your daily routine, and lastly, shifting your thoughts from ruminating on the past or into the future, to primarily being thoughts on the present moment (4).
When your thoughts are engaged in the external, present moment, you are then able to have an increased awareness of your internal emotions. The definition of mindfulness is more than just being aware of your thoughts, emotions, and physical presence, but also accepting them. This isn’t to be confused with passivity, but instead to be interpreted as experiencing events fully without overthinking, suppressing, or judging the event (5). Alisha uses the imagery of viewing your thoughts as clouds passing through, not passing any judgment on them, simply observing them pass (4).
The next step of mindfulness is to be appreciative of the present moment and of your new awareness and acceptance. Alisha has a list of amazing gratitude exercises that she elaborates on in The Six G.O.L.D. Keys to Well-Being, and the two that I practice the most are gratitude journaling and gratitude walking in nature (4). I find that I can never stay in my pessimistic state after giving intentional thought to, and writing down what I am grateful for each day, as well as being surrounded by the beauty of nature. Something that I benefit from incorporating into my journaling is a gratitude technique by Michael Leytem, called The G.R.I.N. Technique. This technique is a mindfulness practice that the Catching Leadership team incorporates into our scheduled check-in times (Click here to learn more about Michael’s G.R.I.N. Technique).
The reflective nature of mindfulness invites you to appreciate the lessons of your past and how they can potentially influence your future, consider what you desire from this life, and lastly, to determine what you hope to give back (2).
The last core step is to implement all of these experiences, revelations, and considerations into setting our intentions in this life, and in this present moment.
According to an article by Matthew Nisbet, “More than 600 scientific studies are published annually on meditation and mindfulness” (6). A review on the empirical studies of mindfulness states that it can be an effective antidote on “rumination, anxiety, worry, fear, anger”, and other forms of psychological distress (5). Furthermore, from a career aspect, mindfulness can alleviate stress in the workplace, which can lead to “increased absenteeism, organizational dysfunction, and decreased productivity” (7). A randomized controlled trial conducted in a workplace of 60 employees put their treatment group through a half-day mindfulness training combined with daily mindfulness practice for six weeks, which resulted in “reduced work-life conflict, increased job satisfaction, and an increased ability to focus their attention” (8). These results highlight the importance of practicing mindfulness as a manager and as an employee.
I hope that with all of these practical examples on how to live mindfully and scientific-based evidence of its benefits, that you begin your journey of mastering the skill of showing up for yourself. If you or your business are looking for further support implementing mindfulness into your life and workplace, please visit Catching Leadership or Alisha Leytem Wellness for a list of service offerings. Michael Leytem, CEO and Author of Catching Leadership, and Alisha Leytem, CEO of Alisha Leytem Wellness and Author of The Six G.O.L.D. Keys to Well-Being, have their books available for purchase on Amazon at the links below.
- Selva, Joaquín. “History of Mindfulness: From East to West and Religion to Science .” PositivePsychology.com, 29 Mar. 2022, https://positivepsychology.com/history-of-mindfulness/.
- Radparvar, Michael. “What Does It Mean to ‘Live Mindfully’?” Holstee, Holstee, 17 July 2020, https://www.holstee.com/blogs/mindful-matter/what-does-it-mean-to-live-mindfully.
- “Multitasking: Switching Costs.” American Psychological Association, American Psychological Association, 20 Mar. 2006, https://www.apa.org/topics/research/multitasking.
- Leytem, Alisha. The Six G.O.L.D. Keys To Well-Being. 2022.
- Keng, Shian-Ling et al. “Effects of mindfulness on psychological health: a review of empirical studies.” Clinical psychology review vol. 31,6 (2011): 1041-56. doi:10.1016/j.cpr.2011.04.006
- Nisbet, M.C. (2017). The Mindfulness Movement: How a Buddhist Practice Evolved Into a Scientific Approach to Life. Skeptical Inquirer, 41 (3).
- Colligan TW, & Higgins EM (2006). Workplace Stress. Journal of Workplace Behavioral Health, 21(2), 89–97. 10.1300/J490v21n02_07
- Slutsky, J., Chin, B., Raye, J., & Creswell, J. D. (2019). Mindfulness training improves employee well-being: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 24(1), 139–149. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/ocp0000132
Alisha's book, The Six G.O.L.D. Keys to Well-Being: A Guide to Unlocking A Healthy and Happy Life is out now!
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