In today's economy, there are more reasons than ever to find yourself feeling stressed out. Those lucky enough to have full time jobs are wondering how long they'll keep them. Unemployed and underemployed alike worry how they'll pay next months rent and still have money to eat. And of course, we all suffer from the stress caused by our personal lives.
So what stresses you out? And how do you relax after a stressful week? A few glasses of wine? A big, unhealthy dinner? Hours of television? Most of us know that these things aren't particularly good for us, but still use them to unwind. More and more people, though, are discovering the stress-alleviating benefits of meditation.
In a world that is always changing, meditation is a way for people to find a sense of steadiness and stability. It helps us to accept that our lives are unpredictable and impermanent; thereby freeing us from many of our most nagging worries, allowing us to focus only on ourselves and how we react to these unforeseen changes. Meditation has been known to bring a sense of peacefulness and balance, increased self-awareness, and new perspectives on old problems.
Doctors and researchers agree that practicing meditation is beneficial. One recent study from the University of Washington found that meditating before multitasking can make the work less stressful by naturally reducing distractions. Professor David Levy from the University of Washington Information School said, "To our knowledge, this is the first study to explore how meditation might affect multitasking in a realistic work setting."
Participants in the study reportedly were able to concentrate on their assignments for longer periods of time before their focus was diverted to something else. The meditators also worked longer on specific tasks and went back and forth between tasks less frequently. Impressively, this didn't mean that the meditators took longer to complete the overall assignment. Rather, they worked more methodically, making it less stressful.
One of the great though lesser-known benefits of meditation is that you can do it anywhere and it's free! You don't need expensive equipment or a special club membership. You can meditate on a walk, on a bus, or in line at the grocery store. There are many ways to meditate, including guided meditation, mantra meditation, and yoga. Find the one that best fits your needs and schedule and give it a try.