Let’s face facts, designers have it tough.
We are constantly being challenged with project deadlines, that are always ticking down and getting closer.
We often seem to deal with as much negative feedback as positive feedback, and we are always trying to reinvent our design style, so we don’t get stuck in a specific direction.
Then there’s the stress of the rest of your team hovering around, waiting for the tasks to be done. The hours of being stuck in front of a monitor, usually sitting in a chair. That occasional client who aren’t your favorite person (heck, we love clients, but you know what I mean…).
So it’s no wonder that designers often face burnout and mental health problems.
What many of us do (and I used to be guilty of this) is spend our non-work hours, complaining about projects, being uptight about work we had to do the next day, and wishing we had a holiday coming up.
Then, we’d book that holiday and count down. Spend a week or two relaxing, and then return to the coalface, as they say.
Imagine a world where you didn’t do that, and you made the time every day to get that holiday relaxation feeling. Does this sound impossible? Nope. It’s called meditation.
Let me explain in more detail.
The proven benefits of meditation
There have been many scientific studies on the effects of meditation to both mental and physical health over the years. Some of the scientifically proven benefits of meditation, include;
- Decrease stress and anxiety
- Reduce impact of ageing on brain cell loss
- Lower blood pressure
- Heightened intelligence
- Improved positive emotions
- Increased immune function
- Improved heart function
- Less or less intense pain
In this research paper, they explain how 20-minute mindful meditation sessions reduces pain ratings in various patients.
In a recent study into mindfulness in healthcare, the research concludes with “The evidence supports the use of MBSR (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction) and MBCT (Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy) to alleviate symptoms, both mental and physical, in the adjunct treatment of cancer, cardiovascular disease, chronic pain, depression, anxiety disorders and in prevention in healthy adults and children.”
I can point you to hundreds of other studies, however you can take my word for it, or search them out yourself.
Armed with all the above research, we can say that regular meditation practice does wonders for your body and your mind. No wonder people in all industries and roles are embracing meditation as a way to relieve stress and improve physical and mental health!
What equipment and preparation you need to meditate
One of my favorite things is that you don’t need any fancy equipment to meditate. There are plenty of meditation pillows and stools out there, and meditation pants and outfits and all these things, but none of them are necessary at all.
What you do need is a quiet place and some time where you won’t be interrupted. This could mean your office boardroom, your spare bedroom or even under a tree at the local park.
You can do meditation on your own, with a friend or in a group. I know a few companies who have their designers and leaders do meditation together, yet I prefer to do my practice solo.
Many meditation centres offer guided meditation in groups, however some people find it a little unnerving at first, to sit with eyes closed and silent in a room full of other people (you get used to it, promise!).
How to meditate for the very first time
Does this sound interesting? Want to give it a try? Great!
I’ll give you a quick meditation exercise in a nutshell, however, you may want to try one of the apps I have listed below, for a guided meditation to begin with.
Sit in a chair or on the floor comfortably. You can lie to meditate, however I find I end up sleepy doing that.
Once comfortable, close your eyes.
Focus your attention on your breath and on how your body moves with each inhalation and exhalation. Make no effort to change your breathing; simply breathe naturally.
Take note of your body as you breathe. Observe how your chest, shoulders, rib cage, and belly move with each breath.
Clear your mind and focus your attention on your breath without trying to control it. If your mind wanders, return your focus back to your breath. I find it helpful to count the breaths.
Maintain this meditation practice for two to three minutes to start, and then slowly open your eyes again.
That’s it! Achievement unlocked! You just tried your first meditation. Next step is to try it for longer periods.
Making meditation a habit
As with all habits, it takes time to get in the swing of things. I have found setting a reminder on my phone works well for me. I just set it for 6.10 am, daily.
Some people find it best to meditate first thing in the morning, and I find I am more alert then. However, I know others who prefer to set aside meditation time in the middle of the day during their lunch break, or at the end of the day; everybody is different.
I would recommend you don’t, however, try to meditate when you are tired. This just won’t result in a relaxing experience.
Meditation apps to help
There are a plethora of different meditation apps out there, which means all you need is a quiet room and your phone.
Note: put your phone on airplane mode, so it doesn’t ring in the middle of your session. The amount of times I have been disturbed because I have forgotten to do that.
The three most popular meditation apps, which work on both iOS and Android, are;
Calm is a favorite amongst a few designers in my team. They have a great user interface and offer free trials and more.
I have heard great things about Headspace, and am told by colleagues it is a great meditation app for beginners.
This is my favorite app, with their thousands of courses, meditations, and simple UI. I’ve always just used their free plan, which has been more than enough for my needs.
Everyone can benefit from regular meditation, especially people in high paced, deadline-driven roles like designers.
By making a habit of meditating daily, your mind and your body will love you for it. It can be as little as five minutes per day, and no matter how busy you are, there is a way to find that five minutes.
All the best of luck in finding a meditation style and practice that works for you. All the best to beating stress and enjoying life in 2020 and beyond!