Mindfulness in PR: Balance, Engagement and Productivity
By Andrea Gils
Our brains are the busiest they could possibly be — with a myriad of ways to communicate, we have had to adapt to new technologies and faster response times, pushing PR pros to become master multitaskers.
However, research shows that we are not as good at multitasking as we would like. Instead of doing several things at once, our brain has learned to switch from task to task more quickly, which doesn’t necessarily mean we are more efficient.
Additionally, public relations can be stressful. PR pros have to think on our feet, responding to issues quickly, are on constant alert with news notifications and are simultaneously trying to generate great ideas for our clients and lead our teams effectively.
Meanwhile, we also balance maintaining our health and personal lives, with many of us struggling with the latter.
How do we pause that voice narrating our mental to-do lists? All these competing priorities affect our ability to focus and stay sharp both at work and at home, which is why many PR professionals could benefit from practicing mindfulness.
What is mindfulness?
According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D., founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), being mindful means “paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, nonjudgmentally.”
In public relations, we are constantly judging actions, ideas and situations so it is understandable that, even though some may be present and live in the moment, it is difficult to do so without judgment.
How can it help your teams?
The results of practicing mindfulness go beyond the ability to have a healthy work-life balance. It helps declutter the mind and helps you be more present when listening to your clients or colleagues, leading a team meeting or receiving feedback.
When we are able to expand the gap between a stimulus and a response, and act with awareness and intention, we can become more effective listeners, and more attentive and perceptive leaders, and we can also be more productive. This results in greater satisfaction and engagement not just for you but for your teams as well.
How do you make this practice into a habit?
There are simple activities you can do during your workday that can help you feel reenergized — just as if you had taken a nap. It’s important to recognize everyone has a unique experience with mindfulness practice. So avoid having expectations or judgment about how well or poorly you did.
- Mindful eating: Instead of having lunch at your desk, change settings and focus on what you have in front of you. Feel, hear and see what you’re eating; visualize the process of how the food got to you (farm to table, for example) and enjoy the meal as if it were your first time eating this specific food.
- Sitting meditation: Try focusing your attention on your body’s position and breathing while sitting. Even a 10-minute meditation can be meaningful and energizing.
- Body scan: Concentrate on your physical experience and present state. Try not to think about past or future experiences and bring greater awareness to your body. Try a brief body scan during lunchtime or sit with increased awareness and focus for five minutes before your next meeting.
Mindfulness is about self-regulation of your attention and curiosity, openness and acceptance.
The more you practice mindfulness, the easier it is to become present and aware in your everyday activities. Journaling can help you be mindful and think about how you experience this process. You may be too busy, but remember that an exercise can take less than a minute and can be incorporated into many activities that you are already doing regularly.
Overall, mindfulness can not only help you become a more gracious, kind and grateful person, but it can also help those we interact with; they can benefit from a more focused, engaged, appreciative, encouraging and happy you.