‘Mindfulness’ is an emerging term. Many companies are using to address company culture issues, like stress and staff loyalty. But, what is meant by mindfulness? And do you really need to think about it for yourself or your business? Read our tips about mindfulness for designers to see how this trend can actually be useful within a creative field.

What is meant by mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a convoluted and sometimes politically charged term. it stems from Buddhism and self-care practices. However, it has evolved over time. Nowadays, it seems like it totally depends on your personal perspective. You probably know that mindfulness is a form of self-care for your mental state. It is a journey of personal emotional growth and has been developed into practical applications for reducing stress, lightening emotional loads and greater self-awareness. The practice of mindfulness knocks on the doors of philosophy and psychology. But, it’s important for you to understand that results are subjective. Practising mindfulness may work better for some than others. Understandably, you might be reluctant to try mindfulness practices as the results are hard to measure and are different for everyone. However, it is being recognised as a pretty ‘safe bet’ to spend time building your mental resilience and paying attention to your own mental state, so we’d suggest it’s worth a go. And remember, like with exercise, you don’t really feel the results until after few weeks. If you are tempted, you can try guided meditation as an introduction to mindfulness with Headspace. They provide a free set of sessions to see if it’s for you.

How is mindfulness used in business?

Some of the applications of mindfulness are great for business. Many businesses are realising the short-term and long-term effects of mindfulness by using practices to improve creativity and reduce stress. This means they see employees become happier, more productive and more innovative. You, too, could experience these benefits. Common mindfulness methods that you might already be using to improve your work include: 1. Meditative practices (breathing and thought-based exercises) 2. Flow-based exercises (yoga, tai chi, etc.) 3. Nature immersion (nature walks, gardening, etc.) 4. Introspective conversation (therapy, group sessions, etc.) If you want to know more, we have written a blog on the subject of mindfulness in business.

Mindfulness for designers

1.     Creativity

Mindfulness has great positive impacts on your abilities to think divergently, convergently and critically for creative problem-solving and decision-making. Divergent thinking is an aspect of creativity. It’s that elusive part of the process where truly original ideas come from. In simple terms, it’s the ‘thinking outside the box’ stage. With mindfulness providing the right mental environment, you can play with ideas, and explore new and exciting futures. Nothing blocks inspiration like worrying about deadlines or other stressors.

2.     Focus

We’ve all been told that it’s important to focus, either by our teachers in school or at a place of work. Focus can be difficult for some and easy for others, however it’s dependent on your ability to ignore distractions and perform one or a set of tasks in sequence. Mindfulness can be used as a tool to reset and refocus your mind, so you can more easily enter a state of flow. Flow means you are so focused that your mind is working smoothly and efficiently on a task, and not getting distracted. As a designer, flow is extremely important for productivity. As a result, the process of mindfulness has proven very useful for people with ADHD. When practiced on a daily basis, mindfulness can train the mind to refocus more quickly after brief periods of distraction. These results aren’t just for people with ADHD, though. Mindfulness can improve anyone’s abilities to focus.

3.     Perspective & empathy

A common practice for designers is to think about your users or clients and ‘put yourself in their shoes’. Mindfulness allows you to ground yourself in the present moment. And, it heightens your capacity to empathise. This effect of improving empathy allows you to understand the perspective of others by developing how you articulate your own emotions. Mindfulness can also give you the mental space to think about what is really important about your design work. What is it you are trying to achieve and is there a better way to do it?

4.      Reduces stress & improve overall positivity

As designers it’s hard to be creative when under pressure, or when your emotions are taking up a relatively large mental load. With mindfulness, you can keep your emotions in check and reduce stress in the process. For most designers, keeping your mind clear and free of mental stress is the key to becoming more creative. And, as an added bonus, you’ll be happier, too. “As a designer and creative thinker, mindfulness has allowed me to control my ADHD and enter new ways of thinking about the future, greatly improving my idea generation quality and speed.” – Joshua Hart, CEO, Mindfulness Design.

Further reaches of mindfulness

Mindfulness is something anyone can practice, and though this blog post is about mindfulness for designers, the benefits can really apply to anyone in a role that requires creativity. And, it goes beyond work: you can use mindfulness as a method for thinking about your life and the inner values that matters to you. It might feel uncomfortably ‘deep’, however, mindfulness gives you the ‘permission’ to think deeply and critically about who you are and what motivates you. You should remember that mindfulness isn’t the answer to the big questions in life, it’s just a process to living more authentically to yourself. If that translates to your design work, or to any creative work, then that work will benefit. If you’re interested in learning more about how design thinking and mindfulness can help in this arena, why not speak with us:

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