How to Maintain Balance and Mindfulness



Business development is stressful work. Proposals are critical revenue drivers and job sources for many companies—so a lot is on the line. Because of this, proposals can mean long hours and time spent away from family and friends. However, maintaining these high levels of stress for too long can lower our morale, negatively affect our health, and lead to burnout. But no part of the proposal process is more important than our health, so maintaining balance is critical. Here are six strategies I use to manage the stress:

  • Start out Each Day Right
  • Remember to Take Breaks
  • Write Things Down
  • Decompress Regularly
  • Get Enough Sleep
  • Make Time to Get Away


1. Start out Each Day Right
This one is very difficult for me when I have an early rising proposal team; however, I personally perform much better when I start out the day with a healthy breakfast and a short morning workout. Here are my tips, especially for those of you who, like me, are not morning people.

Sneak in a Quick Morning Workout: For me, a brisk walk to get the blood moving in the morning can seriously help to jumpstart my day. I also like quick bedroom circuits. I pick three exercises that target different muscle groups, e.g., pushups, squat jumps, and crunches. I complete 10 to 20 sets of each exercise and repeat three to four times, depending on how much time I have.

Breakfast on the Go: I have recently rediscovered the energizing power of morning smoothies. I use frozen fruits, a handful of fresh baby spinach, and a scoop of vanilla protein powder. Unsweetened cashew milk provides a ton of extra nutrients for just 25 calories a cup. The biggest bonus is that you can take this breakfast with you on the go and easily enjoy it during your morning commute.

2. Remember to Take Breaks
Sometimes we may feel like we are wasting time by taking breaks. However, according to an article published in Psychology Today, “breaks can replenish the psychological costs associated with working hard, improve work performance, and boost energy.” Remember to take a short break every hour or so. Focus on breaks that detach you from work and foster positive emotions. I like to take a quick 5-minute walk around the cube farms, or outside if the weather permits.

3. Write Things Down
It’s so easy to become overwhelmed with all that you have to accomplish on a proposal. To track what needs to be done, I like to write down the major tasks for the day and the week. I prioritize these tasks and cross them out as I accomplish them. As new tasks come up, I add them to the list.

I don’t typically have trouble falling asleep, but in extremely stressful situations, I sometimes lie awake thinking about all the things I need to get done. When this happens, I leave my list by my bedside so that I can write down the tasks, stop worrying, and turn of my brain for the night.

4. Decompress Regularly
My three favorite ways to de-stress are massages, yoga, and meditation. To help decompress, I make time for an hour massage at least once a month. Massages help to melt the stress away from your body. To further de-stress, especially when finding time is an issue, I have discovered a great free yoga app with short yoga flows that I can do at home. These range from energizing morning flows to relaxing flows to wind down before bed. Similarly, I have found a free meditation app with guided breathing that helps me to clear my mind at night and prepare my body for rest and rejuvenation.

5. Get Enough Sleep
Some people can function on very little sleep. I am not one of those people. I need at least 7 hours of sleep, ideally 8. Once I start getting less than this, I lose focus, am less productive, and start making more mistakes. This is a recipe for disaster in the world of proposals. What’s more, when we are sleep deprived, it puts extra stress on our bodies. We tend to overcompensate for the energy loss by loading up on caffeine, which then makes it even more difficult for us to sleep when it’s actually time to rest.

6. Make Time to Get Away
Maintaining balance during the proposal effort is critical to maintaining focus and staying healthy. However, it’s also important to make time to disconnect completely. According to an article published by Inc., taking vacations can help reduce stress, prevent heart disease, improve productivity, and improve sleep. If you haven’t made time for a recent vacation, consider the health benefits of taking some time off as summer approaches!

Final Thoughts
Maintaining high levels of stress for too long can have negative health impacts and lead to burnout. However, no part of the proposal process is more important than your health, so maintaining balance is critical. To manage the stress of proposals, I start out each day right, take regular breaks, use lists to manage my daily tasks, decompress regularly, get 7 to 8-hours of sleep, and make time to get away.

What are some of the ways you use to manage the stresses of work?

Written by Ashley Kayes, CP APMP
Senior Proposal Consultant, AOC Key Solutions, Inc. (KSI)

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