Meditation Benefits Your Work Health More Than You Think
In a July study, over half of adults reported a negative impact on their mental health due to pandemic-related stress and anxiety with 36% reporting difficulty sleeping, 12% increased alcohol consumption, and 12% worsening of chronic conditions (Kaiser Family Foundation, 2020). Meta-analyses of research indicate meditation can be beneficial for addressing these concerns.
The Reflective Practice
The thinking about thinking (or metacognition) at the heart of meditation is transformative. The reflective process of meditation gives the brain an opportunity to pause amidst the chaos to interpret and reframe experiences. This deliberative process of selecting and redirecting thoughts helps reduce stress and anxiety related health conditions while building coping mechanisms (Goyal, 2014; Aman, 2018; Hoge, 2013). As a routine practice, meditation curtails the negative thoughts associated with depression, binge eating, alcoholism, and insomnia (Kiken, 2014; Katterman, 2014; Garland, 2018; Ong, 2014). In refocusing the mind to the present moment with increasing awareness, meditation is used in the treatment chronic pain (Hilton, 2017). At work, this can lead to increased productivity, confidence and superior decision-making.
Taking a deep breath in and slowly breathing out is powerful. The breathing techniques in meditation stimulate your vagus nerve and slows the heart rate (Olex, 2013). This reduces blood pressure and the inflammatory reflex which can help prevent cardiovascular disease (Koike, 2014). The vagus nerve has also been linked to improved memory and promising treatments for conditions like Alzheimer (Adelson, 2004; Clark, 1999). At work, this enhances focus, data retention and presentation skills.
Finding your most comfortable position is restorative. The various body positions in meditation can improve posture, balance, flexibility, and muscle tone (Dudka, 2019) Getting into position and transitioning from positions releases tension and encourages blood flow, which increases energy. The goal is to be centered without discomfort, stress, or tension in the muscles or joints. At work, this supports comfort during long stretches of sitting and circumvents the 3 pm energy crash.
Isn't it time you incorporated meditation in your workday?