The technique can increase awareness, improve performance and boost our overall well-being, ActionCOACH’s Kerry Hopkins says

After an unprecedented 12 months of stress and anxiety, a leading business expert is encouraging entrepreneurs to slow down and try mindfulness to help deal with the pressures of running a business.

According to the Mental Health Foundation, 74 per cent of UK adults were so stressed at some point over the past year they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope.

With April’s Stress Awareness Month in full flow, Kerry Hopkins of award winning ActionCOACH Black Country says mindfulness could help to reduce stress – and now’s the perfect time to give it a go.

She explains: “When I mention mindfulness, I don’t mean meditating for 30 minutes every day, I mean becoming more aware of what might trigger our stress, spending more time on the activities that give us energy and make us feel good, letting go of the things we know we can’t change and living in the moment to appreciate what we have now.”

Kerry believes that not only can mindfulness help us manage stress, but it can also increase awareness, improve focus and ultimately performance and boost our overall well-being.

“Mindfulness is in large part about awareness – awareness of yourself and others,” she says.

“Mindfulness techniques can help us increase our ability to be aware and with that our ability to make a choice in how we act and respond in stressful situations.

“You might be wondering how that relates to business and work, but with increased awareness we’re more likely to take ownership, accountability and responsibility, which will lead to better actions being taken.

“We’re also less likely to make excuses and act in denial about things that might not have gone as planned and see them more as learning experiences.”

Last year the Office for National Statistics revealed that around one in five adults experienced either moderate or severe depressive symptoms in June 2020 – almost double the level recorded before the pandemic.

“As humans, we tend to act on autopilot for a large majority of our time – we are doing things without thinking about them,” Kerry says. “Well, the pandemic has completely shifted that and turned everything on its head.

“Take your morning routine as an example or the way we operate meetings or even the way we operate our businesses – it’s all changed and that has been very stressful to navigate.

“Mindfulness can help us to slow down and take note of those things we do on an autopilot and perhaps question whether they’re the right things to be doing in the first place.

“When we’re busy, we rarely stop and think. If you can take yourself out of autopilot and look at things objectively with less emotion, decision making will be different and you’ll see different results.”

Kerry says business owners have had no choice but to adapt and respond during the past year, but that now is the perfect time to take a step back and think about what to do next:

“Doing something the same way all the time will ultimately lead to the same results, so if we can see things differently we can make different decisions and achieve different results.”

Here are Kerry’s top three tips to prevent stress levels rising:

1. Take time to do things that nourish you, which might include exercise, reading or cooking your favourite healthy meal.

2. Take control. Don’t let your day – and your decisions – go by on autopilot. By taking back control of your day, you’ll make better decisions and feel empowered, rather than feeling like things are spiralling out of control.

3. Slow down. By taking some time to assess your situation, you’ll become more aware of what needs to be done and what you need to prioritise, not only in your business, but in your life.

ActionCOACH Black Country was recently awarded UK Firm of the Year, Best Client Results and UK Coach of the Year for its managing director Andy Hemming in the national ActionCOACH UK awards.