Head Space: Mindfulness tips for female entrepreneurs

Ever find your schedule so packed with meetings and tasks that you barely have a second to breathe?

Mindfulness was the buzzword of 2017, but it's much more than just a passing trend. The practice -- which simply means actively experiencing the present moment -- can benefit your personal life, psychological health, and even your business. 

We asked a few wellness entrepreneurs about their tips for practicing mindfulness and juggling a full schedule.

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Jennifer Yip, Founder of Living Life with Jen

Jennifer Yip is a certified holistic life and the founder of Living Life with Jen, as well as a creative partner at brand experience agency Secret Tour Hong Kong. At Living Life with Jen, she provides solutions and coping strategies for professionals who work in high-stress jobs.  

What does "mindfulness" mean to you?

“Mindfulness is not a new age thing, but something closely related to the current era. It is a habit we build to make sure we never fall when feelings come. It is an awakening journey from our head to our heart. It is the moment we decided to take back the responsibility on our own lives.”

What are some benefits of practicing mindfulness?

“It keeps me healthy physically, mentally and emotionally. Giving me motivation when I wake up, and staying energised throughout the day with clarity and efficiency. It helps me to make better decision every time: When challenges come, instead of being emotional and complain or rush for a quick-fix solution, I see things as they are but not what I expect them to be.”

Mindfulness is the moment we decided to take back the responsibility on our own lives
— Jennifer Yip, Living Life With Jen

What do you do when you feel like you're lacking motivation?

“Slow down and just breathe. I allow myself to have a break without judgement or self-attack when I’m losing motivation or inspiration. Cultivating self-love is very important at this moment to avoid unnecessary negative emotions to kick in. At the same time, be in the community. If you cannot inspire others, go and be inspired. Just show up, relax and be a good listener.”

What steps would you recommend to de-stress? 

"Regular meditation practice is the most effective way to reduce stress. I also have my self-love strategies that help me stay grounded. Here are some that I like doing:"

  1. Slow deep breaths for 90 seconds
  2. Showering with cold water for 1 minute, then switching over to hot shower for another minute. Ending with a 1-minute cold shower
  3. Taking a walk on the grass in the sun
  4. Having a lymphatic full-body massage
  5. Exercise throughout the week -- a combination of cardio, strength training and stretching 
  6. Cook and consume whole foods
  7. Smile. Especially towards the mirror and feel gratitude towards myself

Coco Chan, founder of Voltage PR and Wellness Warriors

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Coco Chan is the founder of PR company, Voltage PR. After spending over a decade working long hours, she was diagnosed with chronic anxiety and decided to make some changes in her life. After learning about self-discovery and spirituality, she started Wellness Warriors, a movement that raises awareness on mental health and self-connection by hosting spiritual workshops in Hong Kong.

What does "mindfulness" mean to you?

“Being in the now. Being present in each moment of your life. Mindfulness helps me stay sane. It's challenging juggling multiple projects at once but remembering to slot in mindfulness practices boosts productivity and efficiency.”

How do you incorporate mindfulness into your daily routine?

“In the morning I lather on my essential oils while repeating affirmations and setting my intention for the day. I take a walk to buy lunch without bringing my phone so that I can be aware of my surroundings and enjoy all the senses on the way."

"In the evening, my sage ritual [aka burning sage to get rid of bad energy] kicks off my meditation, which goes for about 10-30 minutes per night to clear my mind and unwind for a good night's rest.”

It’s challenging juggling multiple projects at once but remembering to slot in mindfulness practices boosts productivity and efficiency
— Coco Chan, Wellness Warriors

What's an easy mindfulness tip for beginners? 

“Essential oils are my elixir for just about EVERYTHING, from immunity to emotional balancing! Our stress receptors are mostly located within the sinus and head area, which is why essential oils are amazingly useful for quick relief.”

Any apps or other resources you'd recommend? 

"I use the Calm app for meditation and BloomMe for pampering time, which allows me to unplug. As for books, I'd recommend Creating Your Best Life: The Ultimate Life List Guide."
 

Sarah Fung, founder of Liv Media 

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Sarah Fung has been in the magazine publishing for over 10 years and is now managing her own boutique publishing company, Liv Media which publishes Liv Magazine, for health and wellness addicts, and My Hong Kong Wedding for brides-to-be.

What does "mindfulness" mean to you?

“To me, mindfulness means being in the moment and absorbed in the task at hand... and putting your phone down! I confess I very rarely sit and meditate (I find it stressful as I think about all the stuff I could be doing instead!), so I try to be mindful in other ways: when I'm playing with my daughter, eating with friends, or going for a foot massage.”

How does being mindful help your business?

“As I run a wellness magazine, I do have to try and live the lifestyle, at least some of the time! I'm lucky as I get to try a lot of classes around town, which helps me come up with new story angles, grow my contacts list and track trends that are happening in the wellness industry. I recently tried a class at Mindful Pilates, and a movement class at SharedSpace -- both made me much more aware of my body and required that I concentrate on my movements.”

How do you avoid burnout?

“I wish I did more capital 'M' Mindfulness myself, but I'm aware that it might not be for everyone - particularly when you have a business that's growing -- I have found that mediation just stresses me out, as it doesn't feel productive. Bad I know, but sometimes it feels less stressful to be working!"

"I have found that exercises that require brain power are the best way for me to get fit and put my mental energies into something non-work-related. Exercises like Pilates, yoga, movement and horse-riding."

"If it's all getting on top of you, just remember to keep things in perspective. All setbacks are learning opportunities. Go do something that makes you happy for an hour, and then come back to the task at hand. Oh, and never send an email when you're angry!”

Any go-to strategies that help you de-stress?

“I love Wunderlist -- a very simple but effective to-do list app. I find I am most stressed when my list of tasks spins out of control and I worry that I'm going to forget an appointment or a crucial piece of work. While I prefer pen and paper, this list syncs across all my devices and I can input jobs as they occur to me."

"I also love to bake from time to time! Particularly if I can find a healthy(ish) recipe. I do a great beetroot and dark chocolate cake, and a really easy coconut and pineapple loaf as well. Making something tangible (that's not a magazine!) is a great way to de-stress.”
 

Clare Lim, co-founder of SharedSpace

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Clare Lim is a millennial entrepreneur from Hong Kong. From the age 15, she started on a path of self study and developing her personal wellness practice. Her path led her to open a movement studio, SharedSpace with her partner, Aaron Martin, in April 2017. She is currently a dancer, yogi, movement teacher and practitioner.

What does "mindfulness" mean to you?

"Mindfulness to me is having space between my thoughts, mediating between my inner and outer world -- a beautiful constant rebalancing act of being connected to my inner wisdom while engaging with others in the world."  

Do you practice mindfulness?

“Yes and no. I don't schedule in time for my mindfulness practice or tea ceremony to slow the pace of how I do things. I'm young, and I run a growing business, so I'm busy!"

"Because I am so busy, breathing through things and keeping a steady heart rate keeps me going. I don't often unplug from what I do, so the term 'keep calm' is a rule I follow -- by becoming aware of emotions and thoughts that come up in stressful situations, allowing myself the time to get around my feelings, then moving forward."

Know that everything, including ourselves, works in seasons.
— Clare Lim, SharedSpace

What's a common misconception about motivation?

“Know that everything, including ourselves, works in seasons. We will have more motivation at certain times, and less in others. This societal notion that we are always supposed to be highly motivated, energetic, inspired -- it's the illusion of an eternal summer and is not sustainable. That's how we 'burn out' -- the hint is in the word 'burn' isn't it? Too much fire."

"So my suggestion would actually be to know ahead of time that down time -- in the micro, perhaps weekly; in the macro, your busy seasons and not-so-busy seasons. Schedule in the quiet and non-fiery times."

"To be clear, this isn't going out for drinks, for fire water, or busying yourself up doing 'wellness' things. Learn to be quiet to hear the insight."

"And always opt for the macro -- when any of my mentees need the micro, short term motivation or inspiration to get things done, I would encourage them to dig deeper and find their macro intent."

"Some call it purpose, drive, life goals. Call it what you want, you'll know what it is when every action step feels purposeful, even if you don't make immediate monetary gains.”

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How do you get beyond a quick fix?

“I recommend any product or service that gives you insights and tools, that eventually leads to long term change. So rather than learning the newest breathing techniques, following the next quick fix diet, learn from older practices -- ones that know time and seasons, teach you how to read maps so that you know where you are, where you're going, and how to get there."

"I love being inspired by myth and poetry, as opposed to being told step by step, exactly what I should be doing. Learning in a way that piques my creativity empowers me to find my own solutions. From there, I grow.”

Do you set a "switch off" time? 

“I do my best to have a Sunday, even if it's not Sunday. I schedule in times to switch off -- times for deep-tissue massages, infrared sauna, and chiropractic appointments are blocked out so that I know I am doing things that bring my energy level up. I am also an ambassador of Float On HK --the [sensory deprivation] pods make such a big difference to the quality of my rest!”