How Mindfulness can help support Accountants to find calm in a frantic, uncertain world
Mindfulness and Accountancy may not be two words that you naturally think of together, but as part of professional and personal development in a world where work life balance is typically out of whack, especially at year end, perhaps they should be.
As an accountant, does any of this sound familiar, especially as the year end pressure pot starts to heat up?
- There’s never enough time in the day?
- Everyone wants something from you right now.
- Your mind is wandering to thoughts, to do’s and worries when in meetings?
- You rarely have time for lunch, if you do, it’s at your desk and you have no idea how it actually tasted?
- You feel like you have to be attached to your phone/email for fear of missing something and/or just to keep up?
A Harvard study showed that 47% of the time, the average person is not paying full attention to what we are doing: we are on autopilot, multi-tasking, distracted with a wandering /frantic mind, impacting our overall wellbeing and productivity and contributing to stress.
In Finance environments, this is amplified even more at month end and year end. Living and working in environments where we are constantly busy, responding reactively to the urgent rather than the important, with no space for our own wellbeing, creativity or innovative problem solving is counterproductive.
If that’s not enough, add to this the current pandemic environment. While we may be out of full lockdown, we are by no means ‘normal’ and who knows what the ‘new normal’ will look like. The constant need to ‘stay safe’ and need for social distancing has us all on edge and the effect of all of this has an additional impact on our mental wellbeing.
So, what is Mindfulness and how can it help?
Mindfulness is a form of brain training and is all about learning to pay attention to our experience right here, right now, rather than dwelling on the past or catastrophising about the future.
It helps us to get off autopilot and trains our brain to focus. We often think that multi-tasking is a skill and essential when juggling clients and deadlines, but studies show that multitasking is not helpful, and it actually takes longer to recognise and do new things when we back and forth. We may believe we are juggling and getting things done but this is using more of our time rather than less.
Mindfulness, however, is not a magic wand. It can’t make life’s issues go away, but with practice, Mindfulness helps us to be able stand back , practicing acceptance of what is, and so respond from a calmer standpoint, making choices about how to move forward rather than reacting, always busy and stressed.
If this still sounds a little woo woo from the logical mind of the accountant, be reassured that Mindfulness has a strong evidence base including over 100 studies in the workplace, demonstrating that Mindfulness can reshape the neural pathways of our brain and have numerous benefits for our wellbeing, creativity and effectiveness at work and at home. It helps give us a sense of perspective, enabling choices and helps to make sure we appreciate what’s important.
Mindfulness is an experiential activity and so unfortunately you can’t just read about it to get the many benefits… you have to practice. So, to kick off, here’s a simple practice using your numerical skills to simply count the breath. Focusing the attention on our breath will help support bringing us to the present moment and slow down the frantic mind, reducing adrenaline levels.
So, simply stop what you are doing and focus on your breath coming in and going out of the body.
Slowly count 1 on the inhale and 2 on the exhale up to a count of 10 and returning to 1.
When you notice your mind has wandered (as it will), just notice this and come back to 1.
You can do this practice anywhere and no-one need know and just press pause and find a moment of calm.
Evidence suggests that over a course of 6-8 weeks, changes in the neural pathways can start to form and benefits be felt so if you’d like to find out more contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org or visit my website https://hazeltodd.co.uk/ or take a look at my on-line courses , a standalone introduction and a 6 week course designed to work through at your own pace with practical exercises and meditations, building your mindfulness muscles week by week.
Smart Vault will be holding a webinar with Hazel Todd on Tuesday 3rd November 2020 at 10:00am.
To register your place on this webinar, you can follow this link below.
About Hazel Todd
Hazel works with organisations to enhance long term employee wellbeing, effectiveness and performance. Teams and individuals learn to develop awareness, insight and practice tools and techniques. The results are improved focus, creativity, wellbeing and personal growth.
As a Chartered Accountant, Hazel has over 25 years of experience successfully leading large teams of people through change. She worked at a senior level with Lloyds Pharmacy, Experian and PwC. Hazel now has her own practice as a qualified as a Mindfulness Coach and Consultant, specialising in supporting Professionals to develop self- awareness, new perspectives, gaining clarity, improving focus, confidence and creating personal growth and development resulting in improved overall wellbeing and effectiveness.
Hazel has a Diploma in Transformative Coaching, a Certificate in Mindful Coaching and is a certified Mindfulness at Work trainer. She was nominated for a Successful Women in Business Award in 2018.
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