Just one of the articles from Pet Care Pro Quarterly, IBPSA's digital magazine for pet care services professionals. Read the current issue online here.
by Janelle Whiteman
We just survived the summer season and, with barely a pause from the paws, the holidays will be here soon. If it feels like you spend your time running from this busy season to that busy season, this business issue to that business issue, you may struggle with work/life balance, putting yourself at risk of burnout.
But your business, your staff, and your clients need you. How do you maintain your sanity and health while maintaining your business? By investing in a little mindfulness and self-care you can transform your life and your business, too.
“Mindfulness” is a buzz word that many of us might dismiss as a sort of “new age” idea, one that doesn’t have much to do with building a successful business or creating an effective work culture. But, just the opposite may be true. Mindfulness is commonly defined as “the state of being attentive to and non-judgmentally aware of momentary experiences.” Or, more simply, “being in the moment.” It’s as simple as that. By being mindful, you are aware of what you are doing and not being overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around you. You’re not missing the important stuff while your mind is focused elsewhere. While mindfulness is something that we all naturally possess, it’s more readily available when we practice it on a daily basis. Whenever you bring awareness to what you’re directly experiencing via your five senses, you are being mindful.
How can practicing mindfulness bring more happiness and balance into your life?
As you are reading this, try being fully in the moment. Feel your body touching the chair where you are sitting or feel your feet on the floor. Notice the words, images, and colors on the page. Are you hot or cold or just right? How do the clothes feel on your body? What is the taste in your mouth? Toothpaste? Your last meal? What are the smells in the air around you?
While you were answering those questions, if you were fully engaged in your senses, were you regretting anything that happened in your past? Were you worrying about something that might happen in the future? The answer should be “no” because mindfulness is about being in the present. No matter how much our mind tries to suck us into regretting the past or worrying about the future, if we keep ourselves in the present moment, everything in the right now is actually fine. Practice reminding yourself of that and let go of thoughts that don’t serve you.
Many believe that people are worthy of respect when they put others before themselves. People often evaluate their own worth and judge others by their ability to place the needs of others before themselves – self-care is self-indulgent. But the truth is that we can only sustain physical and emotional health when our self-care is a priority. When you’ve taken the best care of yourself you can offer the world the best version of yourself. Giving yourself permission to take care of yourself is probably the best thing you can do for the people in your life. Not only will you be happier and healthier, but those around you, your employees and your family, will benefit from the happier, healthier you, too.
10 WAYS TO PRACTICE MINDFUL SELF-CARE
1) Just breathe
When we breathe fully, using our diaphragm for deep belly breathing (think sleeping puppy belly) we not only take in more oxygen, we rest and relax the parasympathetic nervous system and deactivate the sympathetic nervous system, which engages during times of crisis. Mammals are wired for short-term stress – to save ourselves in times of real danger – but, unfortunately, the lives we live today keep us in this arousal state much of the time. Also, as we take in a deep inhale and let out a deep exhale, relaxing our tongue to the floor of the mouth sends a direct signal to the brain that “everything is okay right now.” When the brain knows we are out of danger it can rest and relax and provide the body with the opportunity to repair and fight disease.
Meditation enhances relaxation further as it allows the brain to change and settle its activity and release calming hormones into our system. Meditation is often misunderstood as eliminating the mind of all thoughts and, therefore, when people try to do it they find it frustrating and then don’t continue. But, as awake human beings, we cannot empty the mind – we are meant to have thoughts. The trick is taking your mind to the “brain gym” and exercising your ability to control those thoughts. There are so many ways to meditate, see what works for you. One way is getting quiet to access inner knowledge or intuition if you need the answer to a question or situation in your life. This way, you are teaching your mind to focus, in a positive way, on the direction you want it to go rather than having those runaway, fearful thoughts that can take over your thinking.
3) Move your body in some way everyday
Our bodies are meant for movement. Find the time – schedule it in – to move daily. Movement could be in the form of a walk or yoga, swimming, running or cardio, or anything that you enjoy. To incorporate movement with mindfulness try taking a “Mindfulness Walk” once every week. To do this, decide on a particular color, object, or shape that you are going to look for before your walk. Then, go out and look for it. You will notice things that have been there all along but you’ve never seen before. Breathe deeply, stay in the moment, and move your body.
4) Make sleep a priority
For a myriad of reasons, our society is becoming increasingly sleep-deprived. Sleep is significant in our body’s ability to be healthy. While sleeping, we repair damaged tissues and organs, metabolize hormones our body no longer needs, and our brains take the time to organize our thoughts and experiences to make memories out of the experiences that we have had in the day.
5) Get out in nature
Stop and smell the roses…literally. Being in nature is extremely restorative. Notice the warmth of the sun on your skin, the birds chirping in the trees, the smell of the grass. Nature calms your thoughts.
6) Feed yourself the best food possible and take time to taste your food
Make good food a priority for yourself. Cook “real” food when possible and begin to eliminate processed and fast food from your diet. Even small changes in diet can lead to increased energy and clarity. Remember to fully savor the colors and flavors on your plate and to not just gulp down that delicious green smoothie.
7) Treat yourself and relish it
Don’t beat yourself up when you want a treat. If you really want a treat just eat it with love and enjoy it without the side of guilt. Same goes for treating yourself to a day at the spa – it’s not very relaxing if you spend the whole time feeling guilty or worrying about something at work. Treats are special because they aren’t everyday occurrences, so make sure you are actually enjoying them in the moment.
8) Take time to be alone
Just as a sense of community is important for people so, too, is time alone. Time alone allows you to process thoughts and experiences and to rejuvenate with less distraction.
9) Do something you really enjoy every day
Daily, or as often as you can, do something you love to do. Take a bath with Epsom salts and essential oil, write in your journal, listen to music, read a book. Whatever activity you choose to do, don’t feel guilty about taking the time to do it. Remember, it’s feeding your soul and increasing your joy.
10) Be grateful
Begin and end your day with gratitude. Upon awakening, in the shower, or on the drive to work, think about at least three things, people, or experiences that you are grateful for. Then, at the end of the day, write down a few things you are grateful about from the day, and reflect on why they were meaningful to you. Doing this regularly will not only change your perceptions of your life and the people in it, but it will bring to you even more amazing things to be grateful for!
Janelle Whiteman has been part of the pet care services industry for more than 25 years. She co-founded an AAHA accredited animal hospital and opened the first luxury pet resort in Central Ohio. After 14 years of success, in 2015, she sold her Willow Wood Resort to pursue her passion for helping entrepreneurs achieve not only financial success as small business owners, but balance and fulfillment in life. Today, she is a personal growth coach, speaker, teacher, master trainer, and owner of ClearPath Worx, a business dedicated to the balanced success of entrepreneurs.