According to the American Institute of Stress (AIS), work is the number one cause of stress in the US. From work overload to friction between bosses and colleagues, 80% of workers are said to experience feelings of stress on the job. Of course, this is not a phenomenon unique to the US. Across major global economies, six out of eight workers are experiencing stress in the workplace. So it comes as no surprise then that nearly half of respondents surveyed by AIS stated that they needed help in managing their stress.
In an era when real wages are falling as work becomes more precarious and jobs increasingly demanding – particularly in our 24/7, always-on, always-connected culture – stress has become an accepted fact of life. Sadly, it is much more common today than at any other time in history, and people are experiencing feelings of stress at a younger and younger age. Research from the UK’s Mental Health Foundation found that 60% of 18-24 year olds and 41% of 25-34 year olds were stressed on account of feeling the need to succeed. This is compared to 17% of 45-54 year olds and 6% of over 55s. And understandably so.
The physical and psychological cost of stress
Yet, despite its widespread existence and acceptance as part and parcel of modern living, stress is a significant cause of poor health and disease. Research has shown that those experiencing stress both acutely and chronically are subject to increased inflammation, putting them at higher risk for cardiovascular disease, asthma, autoimmune disease and diabetes. Furthermore, symptoms of stress are often connected to both anxiety and depression. Stress, as such, can inhibit us both mentally and physically.
Aside from being a potential source of poor health, stress, which often causes irritability and sometimes anger (think road rage) can serve as a major hindrance to your performance at work. To be truly successful in the workplace, you need to have the ability to manage stress so that it does not impact the quality of your work or professional relationships. Being short-tempered with colleagues is unlikely to win any brownie points or set a good example for others.
Managing stress with mindful meditation
With all this in mind, it’s no wonder that meditation, a habitual process of training your mind to focus and redirect your thoughts and mindfulness, have exploded in popularity over the last decade. Stress is the number one reason to turn to meditation, and with good cause. The medical benefits of meditation have been proven; the practice shown to reduce the inflammation caused by the stress hormone cortisol. And this is not the only benefit. Others include reducing anxiety, promoting emotional health, enhancing health awareness, lengthening one’s attention span and improving sleep quality.
In a typical workday, you may face several sources of stress and anxiety; from having to make decisions or facing criticism from a colleague to being irritated by a fellow co-worker’s actions. With so many daily distractions, it can also be immensely difficult to concentrate on any one thing for a length of time. Mindful meditation can help you navigate all of these challenges. With a more focused mind, one can process information with a more level head, enabling better decision-making. Most importantly, it allows for greater control over your reactions to people – something which will greatly influence people’s perception of you in a positive way. Underlying these benefits is the fundamental ability to put one’s ego to the side, a critical skill for performing well as part of a wider team and establishing positive working relationships.
With meditation now an increasingly popular practice for those who have highly demanding jobs, from celebrities to millionaires, the practice is widespread. And with multiple ways to meditate – be it guided meditation or mindful artistic practices – there is a form of meditation for everyone. By spending 10 minutes a day meditating, you’ll reap numerous rewards – with stress relief the greatest prize. As with developing any skill, all you need is a little practice. But the wonders of quietening the mind for just that short amount of time, amidst all the daily distractions, will make it one of your best 10 minutes spent. So, to slow down, take stock and refocus, get comfy, take a deep breath in, exhale, and enjoy.
Budget-friendly meditation and mindfulness resources from The Gaggler
To help deal with daily stress, The Gaggler has launched its Relaxation Meditation Kit that is available for a special limited-time introductory rate here. Featuring four different audio tracks offering a total of one hour of relaxing meditations along with The Gaggler Guide To Meditation E-book, there’s also a Self-Reflection Journal to set you off on your mindfulness journey. Suitable for complete beginners and intermediate users, learn more about the kit here!