How mindfulness can help social media professionals practice self-care.
As professionals in social media, do you know that feeling when you just want the world to hold still for one moment? If only there was just ONE moment to sort your thoughts, calm down, take a deep breath, and reenergize. It does not take a super hero to make our world stop in order to have that moment of just being. We can be our own super hero! I can see that some may now ask themselves what miracle I am about to pull out of the hat. Sorry – no miracle today! But something better than that – practical help!
Too much information, too much social contact, and too many online and offline commitments can make us feel overwhelmed. How can we find a balance of committing to the things we love and getting tasks done that need attention, while still seizing the moment? One of my favorite tools is mindfulness. Being mindful does not take a ton of research nor long hours of coaching or training, but just the real decision to be more mindful about what we do and how we feel about it.
What is mindfulness?
According to “The Greater Good Science Center – The Science of a Meaningful Life” at the University of California – Berkley, “mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment”. This principle is bridged by an acceptance of the rising awareness, without judging whatever rises from the consciousness. The practice of mindfulness originated in the Buddhist culture, but has found its way into Western practices and medicine. The Western understanding of mindfulness that we have today differs from the original Buddhist teachings, which merely focused on internal awareness. (Keng, S.-L., et al., Effects of mindfulness on psychological health: A review of empirical studies, Clinical Psychology Review (2011)). So, what exactly can mindfulness do for us, apart from helping us to keep a close eye on ourselves and our surroundings?
What effect does mindfulness have on us?
Mindfulness has been proven to be connected with personal well-being. The main focus of non-judgmental awareness is that it is known to help with psychological distress, such as anxiety, worry and fear. Research has shown that individuals with mindfulness as a self-described trait have shown better ability to regulate emotions, especially negative thoughts. This has presented even stronger in practitioners of mindfulness meditation. In addition, it was found that meditation practitioners tend to have a higher cognitive flexibility and enhanced attentional functioning. As a result, mindful individuals are better able to cope with negative emotions and tend to have higher levels of life satisfaction and vitality. (Keng, S.-L., et al., Effects of mindfulness on psychological health: A review of empirical studies, Clinical Psychology Review (2011)). Now, those findings sound wonderful, don’t they? Wouldn’t it be nice to have all of them? But how would it change our social media work?
How can mindfulness benefit our social media work?
While working in fast pace social media with tons of input everyday, it is crucial to find methods to take care of ourselves. If we don’t follow the standard airline procedure of putting our oxygen mask on first before helping others, we are likely to not be of much use to our community at some point. We become stressed out over creating content, generating engagement, and committing to too many channels and projects. However, by practicing mindfulness we are able to be more aware of what happens to us and our work. We are able to find a balance between positive and negative stress because we know what is happening to our emotions, our surroundings, and how we react to what comes our way. And in the end, by being aware and being able to better react, we then become even more valuable to our community, online and offline, because we know exactly what and how we are doing.
5 Tips to practice mindfulness in social media workplaces
If you are one of the lucky individuals that describes themselves as mindful – congratulations! You are probably not too surprised about the findings above and the following tips are more of a reminder for you to keep up the balance.
In case you are new to mindfulness – congratulations on trying these tips! It might take a moment for you to feel a difference, but don’t be discouraged. You probably didn’t know all the social media channels right off the bat either, did you?
- Be mindful about your breaks.
Social media often makes us feel like we have to be on the channels 24/7. In order to battle that feeling, create deliberate mindful breaks to give yourself a chance to recharge and refocus. Have someone on your team take over or let your community know that you are refocusing. Detach from work during this time. You can take a walk or do a short meditation. See how the detachment makes you feel. Be aware of what happens to your mind and body.
- Be mindful about your work.
Social media is about building and maintaining communities. This can be a great way to practice mindfulness. Through relating with people and being compassionate about their concerns and questions, we can create wonderful connections between community members that lead to solutions through our knowledge. Now be aware of how that makes you feel! Give yourself a moment to just be with a conversation or an emotion that you encounter.
- Be aware of your pace.
When you feel stressed, tend to hurry to meetings, oftentimes talk very fast, and type on your device at a high speed; try to reduce your pace. Watch what your body feels like. Does your heart rate change? How does your breathing feel?
- Be kind to yourself.
Too often we talk to ourselves in a discouraging way. We are often our harshest critics. Be aware of what you say to yourself. Try to reduce that negative talk and substitute it with encouragement, such as “Hey, it’s okay you didn’t get to that task, but look at the five other important assignments you finished and how you helped your co-worker today.”
- Be aware of expectations you create.
Creating reasonable expectations internally and externally can have a huge effect on your everyday work. Do your reactions and habits create expectation that you can’t meet on a daily basis? Try to communicate expectations with your online and offline community and how you can meet them realistically. Setting boundaries on response time or amount of content you publish doesn’t make you weak, but stronger for building meaningful conversations. It’s not about quantity, but about quality!
There are many more great ways out there to create and practice mindfulness. Now that you know what you are looking for, you can use your social media knowledge to find more great info on mindfulness and do something for yourself.
Author: Magdalena Schürmann
Her passion for organization and solving problems benefits Magdalena’s work as a consultant and in coaching private clients as well as small businesses in diverse areas connected to work life – from job changes to social media marketing. In her business ArbeitsLeben Magdalena often helps clients to reduce stress and gain more balance through organization and personal and professional coaching. Her goal is to educate, to encourage, and to empower her clients.
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