Like many busy sales professionals, I experienced two forms of mental overload that sent me into stress overdrive:

  1. Not being able to sleep because my mind wouldn’t shut off as it was continuously revealing a tidal wave of tasks I had yet to complete.
  2. The moment I sat down to begin work, my thoughts would hit turbodrive and I’d be overwhelmed with tons of ideas bombarding my brain, racing through my head of all the things I needed to do before getting pulled away or being distracted by phone calls and emails.

There are a number of ways to combat this newer form of stress that has become common in the always on, always connected world in which we live. It’s really hard to know what tips to try. Some of these tips are far too much to ask, to be honest. No one wants to change their entire routine. I mean, let’s face it, how long will that work until it becomes just another stressor in your life? Thankfully a simple meditation practice is a solution, and that’s about as easy as it can get.  And it only takes five minutes a day – whenever you find the time to fit it in (which you absolutely can!)

Research has proven again and again that meditation decreases stress, depression, anxiety, pain and insomnia, all the while increasing memory, empathy, focus and quality of life. To clarify for those who are unfamiliar with meditation, we’re not talking about chanting or doing anything out of the ordinary for westerners. Just envision yourself sitting in a comfortable seated or reclined position with your eyes closed while you take conscious notice of your breath.

How to meditate

A very simple form of meditation that you’ll learn about here is called concentration meditation. This common technique is great for beginners as it involves focusing on just one single thing. You can just count your breath, or say the words “in” and “out” in your head when you breathe, for example.

  1. Sit comfortably – this can be on a chair, pillow, the ground, etc. You only need to sit still and tall – in other words, with a straight back. It doesn’t matter how you are sitting, just make sure you can stay in that position for five minutes without getting uncomfortable.
  2. Close your eyes.
  3. Breathe through your nose – You want your inhale to be slightly shorter than your exhale. Try inhaling for a count of two, then pause before exhaling gently for a count of four. If this seems too short, try four and six count intervals, or six and eight count intervals. It should feel calming and slow. Don’t push yourself to breathe in for longer intervals. This isn’t a competition.
  4. That’s it. Set a timer for five minutes and you’ve just completed your meditation practice.  Feel free to add ambient noise, soothing music, or some essential oils if you’d like, but that’s not at all necessary.

Don’t struggle to reach a state of stillness 

Most of the time our minds will be anything but still. Allow thoughts to come and go. Rather than focusing on them, recognize them as thoughts and let them pass. You can always bring yourself back with whatever you are using for your focus: your breath, counting, etc., to help you recenter. If you find that you were distracted by a thought, that’s okay. There’s no judgement. Just bring yourself back to your breath.

Pro tip: if you find you have a bunch of thoughts and ideas racing through your mind before beginning your meditation, write them down. This “brain dump” can help clear your head before you continue.

Cumulative benefits

Meditation is a form of mental exercise just like lifting weights is an exercise for the body. It’s going to take time for you to start seeing the benefits. As you continually perform your meditation, you’ll get better at the technique and also begin to see the benefits in your life. 

That brings me to the final point.

Give it a shot and trust the process

Meditating once, twice, or for a week isn’t going to make you a zen master. Trust in the process and stick with it. Set a goal of meditating for five minutes a day for 30 days. I know you can find five minutes. I trust that the positive benefits you will notice as a result of this time spent will be well worth the investment. Go into this trial without expectations. You’re not going to help yourself if you judge the process. Just give it a shot (why not, right?) and be patient.

Looking for more productivity hacks? Check out our post titled 4 Productivity Tips That Every Sales Professional Should Follow.

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