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Posted by Lauren Barham on July 05, 2017

Are you a working woman who feels pressure to find balance? Is fear or uncertainty stopping you from making leaps or moving forward? Society and instinct have made women primary care-takers, however, we cannot constructively and in a healthy manner take care of others if we don’t take care of ourselves first.

Taking the time to become Mindful of who we are as women, can give us clarity and empowerment to discover our strengths and unleash our inner wonder woman. The clearer we are with our thoughts and needs, the better we become communicating with our families, friends and colleagues, and less reactive to the demand and expectations of our surroundings. Being able to accept ourselves and our emotions without judgement can help us women feel more confident and live with more intention and meaning. 

‘Wonder Woman’ symbolises many of the values of the women's culture that feminists are now trying to introduce into the mainstream: strength and self-reliance, sisterhood and mutual support as well as peacefulness and esteem for human life. However, in today’s society and the modern workforce, women continue to face challenges to push past boundaries and surpass societal expectations. While women have certainly made great strides in achieving equality, there is unfortunately still a stigma surrounding ambitious females, and the “glass ceiling” has yet to be completely broken. With society telling women that they can work, but that pursuing an executive position should still come secondary to marriage and family, it is easy for women to feel conflicted, doubtful, and full of self-judgment when trying to advance in their careers. However, when we take a mindful moment to quiet the mind, we are able to turn off the mental chatter and silence the “what if’s,” while really listening to our goals and desires and focusing on “what now.” Mindfulness practice is centered on present-moment awareness and non-judgment, and therefore can help women to push past their fears and self-doubts, and empower them to pursue the work and life they desire with confidence and assurance. 

Women can find empowerment through Mindfulness since it allows us to focus on the present moment and abandon any fears our doubts about the future. More than 3000 studies suggest that Mindfulness helps climbing up the career ladder, not only by helping us to regulate emotions, improve decision-making, and reduce stress and anxiety, but also by reducing self-judgement and automatic behaviors. The focus that mindfulness brings can make a positive difference in both men’s and women’s lives. However, judging by the amount of multitasking women do and the amount of anxiety they feel, women stand to benefit even more

Multitasking – women multitask more often than men! A study at Michigan State University found that women multitask 10 hours more per week than men. However, research shows that multitasking negatively affects performance and can reduce productivity by up to 40%. So, the more you multitask in general, the more difficult you will find it to sustain focused attention, which is important not only for performance but also for psychological well-being. 

Stress – women experience more stress than men, even when their workloads are similar! Stress can result from tasks not being completed or done properly, and is associated with increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol in our bodies. 

Worry – women worry more than men! According to the Anxiety Disorders Association of America, women are twice as likely as men to suffer from anxiety. Research attributes this to both structural and chemical differences in their brains. A lack of focused attention can often lead to greater anxiety because our thoughts go to worrying about the future. 

There are many different ways to incorporate this quality of presence into our daily busy lives, and with practice, as any activity can become a Mindful activity! 

Here are 5 Mindfulness tips for all of the ‘Wonder Women’ out there, interested in empowerment and reaching their full potential, while keeping their values and morals and remembering who they really are: 

1. Digital Detox Time - Make sure to turn all screens off at least 30 minutes before getting into bed - that means no phone, no laptop, no iPad, as well as try to store my devices in a different room to the bedroom overnight. This stops us from using them straight before sleep, which is important since sleep issues can sometimes coexist with technology addiction. Morning-wise, getting out of bed can sometimes be the most challenging part of your day, particularly if you have a busy schedule ahead. Bombarding your brain with a barrage of information before giving your mind and body a chance to properly wake up is only going to result in increased stress. Instead, open the curtains and take a look outside, get a breath of fresh air and stretch your body. 

2. Start Unitasking - The belief that multitasking helps us accomplish everything we have to get done is a myth; research has shown that multitasking negatively affects performance and decreases productivity by up to 40%! Unexpected problems may pop up throughout the week, but carving out one permanent “Unitasking Day” can help you feel effective and more in control. Try to choose one day a week where you make it your goal to only focus on one task at a time and to really be attentive to whatever you’re doing. Divide your workday into “Unitasking Episodes” - define each one, and dedicate a specific time for each task. For instance, 10 -11am can be scheduled for preparing the presentation you haven’t had time to work on, and then - ONLY focus on completing that task with all of your attention and effort. 

3. Plan Your Day - To calm your mind, to get restful sleep and to avoid feeling overwhelmed the next day, dedicate about 20 minutes a day to write down a plan for the following day. Go through all the meetings you have, how much free time you expect and what you can realistically achieve in the designated time slots. Try to prioritise tasks, and assess whether or not you need to call on any colleagues to help. This enables you to pre-empt issues that could arise, and go to sleep feeling prepared for the next day! 

4. Meditate 10-Minutes A Day: You’re probably thinking: "Meditation? I don't have the time to meditate, I'm too busy!" While you're very busy juggling your personal and professional life, you may feel as if there aren’t enough hours in the day. The good news is that meditation can be done in just a few short minutes when you find a spare moment or in between tasks. Think about all the times you idly scroll through your Facebook newsfeed or browse the Internet for the same (if not more) amount of time. Using those pockets of downtime for meditating could be just what the doctor ordered to get you refocused and back on track. 

5. Eat Mindfully: Throughout the workday always ask yourself: “Am I really hungry right now? Does my body really need that?” Being more aware while you’re eating helps to avoid overeating or snacking when you’re not truly hungry. Many of us have also the tendency to “stress eat,” but making a plan to have a mindful lunch where you get to fully enjoy your food, helps curb these unhealthy habits and gives time in the workday to look forward to. So instead of sitting at the computer and inhaling a sandwich, try to change your scenery and sit somewhere quiet so that you can actually enjoy your food!

Author: Dana Zelicha is a leading academic on the topic of Mindful Leadership, graduate of the London School of Economics (LSE), and a former corporate high-flyer who’s first-hand experience with the mounting stress and pressure of the modern workforce inspired her to launch OWBA—The Well Being Agency (wellbeingagency.com). Her goal is simple: to help the organisational world become more Mindful. To arrange an informal conversation, email Dana at - info@wellbeingagency.com

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