Are you running red-eyed and clench-jawed through your day, getting by on a potent cocktail of caffeine and dogged determination to get the job done? Well, if research from the Health and Safety Executive is to be believed, you’re in good company. Up to five million of us in the UK feel ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ stressed at work. And since our 24-7 lifestyle shows no sign of slowing down, and we’re not about to work less, skip training or those precious few evenings in the pub; it’s time to get serious about our coping tekkers.
Mindfulness is essentially a fancy term for getting you to focus on what you’re doing right now, or to use the lingo: ‘ being in the present moment’. It’s about getting control over your brain, and yanking it back from whatever awkward moment in the past or imagined future it’s been preoccupied with. And – new research from Carnegie Mellon University has shown – it’s a legitimate stress-buster.
After practicing just 25 minutes of mindfulness meditation for three days in a row, the group of healthy 18-30 year old’s were presented with a set of difficult maths and speech tests. Their saliva was sampled to monitor their stress hormones, and according to the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology (Catchy, huh?) they displayed significantly lower stress responses than the other test group, who did an alternative cognitive training program.
Can’t face 25 minutes with only your thoughts for company? Or loathed to stand within five metres of a yoga mat? Check out Headspace, an app created by two blokes (alright, one’s a juggling buddhist monk) that promises to sort your head out in just ten minutes a day. Maximum efficiency, light on the ‘zen’ and definitely a more productive use of your break than telling your boss exactly what you think of them.