Feeling the stress of running your own business? Try thinking about your toes

Feeling the stress of running your own business? Try thinking about your toes
iGoStartup Team
by iGoStartup Team

Success! Money! Power! The life-goal buzzwords that, quite frankly, come across a tad psychopathic. Amazon is awash with ‘life-changing’ guides from motivational speakers, ‘teaching’ us how to break out from the 9-5 slog and be as gloatingly successful as the toothy author on the cover.

‘Think and Grow Rich’

‘See You at the Top’

‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’

All of them seemingly written by Patrick Bateman himself. Are they really the best methods to accomplish your endeavors? Will you ever truly be wealthy if your sole goal is this elusive ‘success’?

We all want some of it, of course. But when you’re pushing yourself to the limit and taking leaps, rather than baby steps, the effect on your body can be just as unhealthy as sinking a bottle of Gordon’s every evening (or spur you to do both).

We see the Oprahs, the Zuckerbergs, the Steve Jobs of the world - and we wonder how they managed it all without their brains spontaneously combusting all over their dazzling suits.

Things become unpredictable when you’re not thinking logically; your mindset becomes distorted and the other nasty little word beginning and ending with an ‘s’ can settle in - putting everything on hold.

Dear stress, let’s break up

You’ve heard it before: stress can kill. The fight or flight reaction, over a continuous amount of time, can result in headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, skin conditions, asthma, arthritis - and of course, depression and anxiety.

We’d be blind to ignore the mammoth affect mental health has on the UK economy. Last year, work-related stress, depression or anxiety accounted for 39% of all work-related illnesses; with 11.3 million working days lost.

If you’re still in employment while starting up your business, stress can build up pretty quickly - especially if a job you dislike is the reason you want to be your own boss in the first place.

Overworking, low job satisfaction and negative work relationships can slowly diminish our mental wellness. Companies are cottoning on to the huge impact emotional health has on performance, with occupational health and wellbeing schemes high on the agenda for many corporations.

Being mindful about mindfulness

You may still be wondering about the whole toes thing.

There’s a word that’s been floating round the socialsphere for a while now you may well have heard of - mindfulness. An essential element of Buddhist practice, mindfulness has now gained worldwide popularity as a way to handle negative emotions.

In short, mindfulness is ‘the intentional, accepting and non-judgemental focus of one's attention on the emotions, thoughts and sensations occurring in the present moment’.

Forcing our minds into the present is a great way to stop focusing on damaging thoughts - and it’s not just for hippies or saffron-drenched monks.

Practicing mindfulness when planning a business helps you be more emotionally alert, communicate clearly and direct your thoughts to a more positive place. Companies first started to take an interest in mindfulness therapy in 2012, but the depression-combatting art has spread to a plethora of businesses.

It’s not always taking time out of a busy schedule to practice mindful yoga or meditation, so here are two mindfulness techniques to invite a lovely bit of zen into your workday and free up some much-needed brain space.

1 - The Full Body Scan

This is a great meditative technique in which you focus on the sensations of your own body. You can practice it on a quick break, on the train (just try not to miss your stop!), and even a quick version of it at your work desk.

In mindfulness training classes, this is usually done for a much longer period (about half an hour), so feel free to take your time when you have it.

Starting at your feet, pay attention to physical feelings in them. Are your toes cool? Are you soles tensed? Slowly allow your awareness to drift up from you feet to your lower legs, up towards the rest of your body until the entire scan is complete.

Any thoughts that interrupt during this exercise are not ignored, but observed kindly before refocusing the mind back to the sensations of the body.

2 - Mindfulness of Eating

Are you one for lashing down your lunch in the first 3 minutes of your break? Not only is it bad for your digestion, you’re probably not even enjoying it.

Imagine you’re an alien, visiting Earth for the first time. Ignore the mess we humans have created and imagine this substance is something you’ve not yet encountered.

Explore it with your senses, really noticing the taste when it releases. Enjoy it! Chew slowly until you need to swallow. It may seem a bit bizarre, but then, isn’t the fact we don’t consciously enjoy every flavour of our food a little sad anyway?

Keep calm and be present

Most of our stress and anxiety comes from negative thoughts about the past and the future. Can I cope with my workload this week? Will I ever escape this job? I don’t think I can deal with this cash flow crisis. Why did I eat that pizza the size of a small child?

You can bring mindfulness into everything you do: washing the dishes, brushing your teeth, or walking to work on a Monday morning. We can only see, hear, smell, taste, or touch in the present moment, so our minds should only think in the present too.

Life is a constant state of growth, both psychically and mentally. Keeping those thoughts anchored to the present can change give you a confident, calm outlook on your life and career; meaning you can move forward without stress, connect better with others and find that elusive success without forcing it. No aggressive money-making guides necessary.