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Leigh Cowlishaw on Mindfulness and Wellbeing

leigh cowlishaw on mindfulness and wellbeing
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Our guest blog features Leigh Cowlishaw, Managing Partner at Black Box Partnerships and HBAA Board Member on mindfulness and wellbeing. 


I became a Mental Health First Aider in July 2018 and having really enjoyed the experience and felt I reconnected with myself, my emotions and my wellbeing. I realised that I was feeling stressed, anxious and heading for a burn out. I am also OK to admit this.

Therefore I started to practice self-care, mediation and undertake a journey of healthy eating, increased exercise and cut out / reduced my alcohol intake. As a result nearly a year later I decided to leave my job - (which I did love), started my own business, became a Mental Health champion within our industry, organised Mental Health Events, written blogs about the subject, raised awareness on looking after yourself, lost 3 stone in weight and feel so much more in control of my life. I feel my life is more balanced, healthy, happier and much more rewarded and chilled.

Becoming an accredited Mental Health First Aider, for me was life changing and I strongly recommend it for personal benefits.

1. What does mindfulness mean to you? 

To be self-aware of my environment around me and what factors impact on this. Whether that’s my feelings, my mood, my focus, who I am with. It is important for me to be aware of me and my limits. Creating self-care and being self-aware - is key.

2. Ways to be mindful at work… 

Factor it in to your daily routine and make the time for it. We should focus as much on our mindfulness at work as we do on a show round, a proposal, a site visit. Mindfulness should absolutely be on our daily “to do list” and this should be non-negotiable. We should consider how we get fresh air, take down time, set ourselves tasks in but size chunks, eat healthier, drink plenty of water and restrict caffeine. Focus on our breathing - this can be at set times and aided by prompts from our phone or portable devices. During the day we should not stack back to back meetings, but give ourselves time to walk around, get steps in and let our mind wander for a few minutes.

If your work provides daily yoga or lunchtime walks - try and set yourself a task to join and be free for a few minutes. It will support productivity and you’re focus back into work.

3. How does health and wellbeing affect us at work? 

Without realising your health and wellbeing can impact significantly on you at work and your ability to deliver in your role. You need to be able to function on having a good balance of work and wellbeing. Question your value at a meeting and ask to see the agenda, this way you can be selective on where you should focus your time to deliver results for yourselves and your role/the business. You cannot deliver if you are running on empty, you need to be very aware of your personal dial.

4. What are the common mistakes we make when we work, that lead us to stress? 

We don’t recognise the signs or choose to ignore them. Stress doesn’t leave anyone out. Your body and mind has an amazing ability to keep on going and going, until there is a trigger, a trauma where we have simply over stepped the mark. That mark isn’t set in stone to be reached at a certain time on a certain day. It will come with no warning, no calendar invites and no apology. 

Self-care and mindfulness will aid you to balance your approach at work and ensure that you keep your mental health in the best condition. Focus on it as a marathon and not a sprint.

5. What does a day look like when considering mindfulness? Specific stages?  

Structured, disciplined and in lots of ways - balanced. Your mindfulness at work should be one of your biggest time investments, because in turn this will ensure that you preform. Praise yourself, praise others and have a positive mental attitude. If your day isn’t going as planned and you feel stressed - re set, re-evaluate and take time. 

6. Does sleep affect our mental state?   

Absolutely, your body needs to shut down and recover. Your nightly routine should aid deep, rested sleep. You should aim for 8 unbroken hours. Give yourself tech cleanse an hour before and set your bedroom as a calm and luxury retreat. You should look forward to going to your bedroom and enjoy the experience that you have created, with a clear mind. 

7. Why is mindfulness so important?  

All of the above, it helps regulate our emotions and help us to be a well human being and aid  good mental health.

If you would like to learn more about how to ensure wellbeing is part of your business culture; to aid smarter productivity or how your meetings and events can capitulate a heightened delegate experience, whilst reducing costs - then please get in touch. 

Written by Leigh Cowlishaw. 

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Written by Charlotte Sneddon

12th Friday July 2019

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