Most of us go through the day with an enormous weight on our shoulders. Maybe during your commute, you start making mental lists of everything you need to do. "If I don’t get to work on time, I'll miss the team meeting, fall behind on my e-mails, and be forced to catch up all day." Maybe you’re trying to stand out and reach for a promotion, but nobody notices. Maybe you just have too much to do and not enough time.
You’re not alone. Sixty-two percent of employees have high levels of stress. Millenials and Generation Xers (the majority of today’s workers) reported the highest levels of stress. Thirty-nine percent of Millenials said that their stress increased in the last year, as well as 36% of Generation Xers. Hours of productivity are lost due to stress, causing employees to miss a total of 13.4 million days of work per year. Workplace stress costs businesses $300 billion!
Too much stress can make you susceptible to injury and illness. If you work too many hours for not enough pay and wonder where your job is taking you, you may be suffering from job stress. Symptoms include headaches, sleep disturbances, difficulty concentrating, and low morale. Research shows that if the stress persists unchecked, it can lead to cardiovascular disease, psychological disorders, and musculoskeletal disorders.
Did reading that stress you out even more?
Living in NYC, my mind often feels like a hamster wheel. After years of searching for an effective way to slow down while remaining sharp, I came upon meditation. I know you’re wondering, "How can I possibly fit meditation into my already-packed schedule?" But even 10 minutes of meditation can improve stress in the workplace, giving you another hour of productivity. Meditation has been shown to reduce stress, depression, and anxiety, while improving memory, concentration, and a healthy immune system. One study found that meditation gave participants an increased sense of purpose and lowered feelings of isolation. Participants also had less headaches, chest pains, congestion, and weakness than non-meditators. Meditation can also build emotional resilience and happiness by helping create space between you and your emotions, so that you are not defined by the depression/anger/anxiety which you feel. With practice, meditation can help you make decisions with more clarity, and move through your emotionally challenging states with less friction.
Mindfulness works by helping you become more aware of your thoughts, feelings, and sensations. For example, by concentrating on your breathing and heartbeat, your mind learns to observe and focus. You’ll notice when your mind wanders. Mindfulness meditation helps restructure your brain's neurochemical pathways to enhance self-regulation. For all the ADDers out there, meditation has also been shown to increased activity in brain areas associated with focus and attention.
If you need some references, note that Oprah, Rupert Murdoch, Arianna Huffington, Phill Jackson, Howard Stern, and Bill Ford are all among the long list of successful people who meditate. The trailblazers of Corporate America are on board as well, with Google, Apple, Nike, and The Huffington Post among the many companies now offering meditation classes for its employees.
Are you convinced? When you feel overwhelmed, take 10-15 minutes to meditate at your desk.
1. Sit in your chair with your feet on the ground.
2. Focus on your breathing- any aspect of your breathing.
3. Inhale. Exhale.
4. No need to judge your effort as good or bad.
5. If you notice that your mind is wandering, take note and bring it back to breathing.
Better? Keep meditating for a few minutes a day, maybe try a meditation class, and notice how that weight will disappear.