Stress hormone

Work Stress: An Email Meditation To Reduce Tension At Your Desk

Checking your overflowing Gmail inbox — or sending out a message to an important business contact — is a pretty surefire way to make your pulse quicken and your mind start racing with worries about deadlines and obligations. In fact, one study actually found that checking and sending email at work can increase your blood pressure and heart rate, and cause levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the body to spike.

“People expect us to respond within 24 hours … just handling the amount of email we get can be stressful,” Dr. Lillian Cheung, mindfulness expert and editorial director of The Nutrition Source at Harvard, tells the Huffington Post. “But instead of getting stressed and overwhelmed with emails, I think it’s an opportunity for us to refresh and restore ourselves.”

Taking a moment to perform a short meditation before sending an email can be an easy way to lower your stress levels and integrate mindfulness into your everyday work life. Before sending out your next message, try a simple breathing exercise outlined by Cheung and zen master Thich Nhat Hahn in their book “Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life.”

After writing an email, stop and take three deep breathes, focusing on each inhale and exhale. You can repeat to yourself, “Breathing in, I thank the power of the Internet. Breathing out, I am fully conscious of my current email actions.” Then, input your recipient and cc-recipient addresses, and click send on the email.

“Not only are you helping yourself to calm down, but you’re also preventing yourself from making mistakes,” says Cheung. “It’s just a moment of pause and it doesn’t take long.”

Read the original instructions from “Savor,” and click here for more ways to de-stress at your desk.

via Work Stress: An Email Meditation To Reduce Tension At Your Desk.


Robert Piper: 6 Reasons Why Everyone in Corporate America Should Meditate

Let’s face it — we all want to lounge in the sun all day on a beach in Hawaii. But we just can’t, we have to go to work and go head to head with stressors that follow the daily grind coming from corporate America.

A survey done by the American Psychological Association found that one-third of employees experience chronic stress related to work.

Meditation is leading the way as a potent tool that could potentially help out. It’s becoming a legitimate pushup for the brain. I don’t care if you call it meditation, mindfulness, deep breathing, or chillin’ time. It works — the scientific evidence is here.

Some of the brightest minds from Harvard, Stanford, University of Wisconsin, and Yale are coming to the conclusion that meditation is an incredible tool for your health.

Here are six reasons why the practice should be embraced in corporate America.

1. It’s been shown to help people stay focused in high-stress environments.

When we get stressed, it attacks are focus, we can’t concentrate. If we can’t concentrate, we can’t get things done. This happens to everyone who experiences stress — why not give meditation a try?

2. It could lower stress.

A little stress is good for us, too much and it becomes are enemy. It’s currently wreaking havoc on corporate America — it is estimated that American business lose up to $300 billion a year because of stress, according to the American Psychological Association. There’s evidence to suggest that meditation may help lower the stress hormone cortisol.

3. It works, even when you’re not meditating.

Similar to working out at the gym, there’s evidence to suggest that meditation works even when you’re not meditating. Why not do some meditation right before you go to work? This will help you have a balanced and clear mind throughout the day.

4. It lets us know our blind spots.

We all have internal blind spots that we could work on to help improve the quality of our lives. A study published in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science showed how mindfulness helped people to look internally at their true selves. We can use mindfulness in a productive way to manage our emotional states.

5. It could help you become more compassionate.

Wouldn’t it be better to start your day off by working on cultivating a positive attitude? What if you went to work wishing for the people around you to be happy? This would influence not only your work life, but every area of your life. Meditation has been shown to make people more compassionate.

6. It may improve sleep quality.

A lot of times the reason we are unproductive at the workplace is because we didn’t sleep well. One meditation study is showing that it may improve our quality of sleep. Why not do some during your lunch break?

Meditation is the new American pushup for the brain, it’s a tool that helps us check in with ourselves throughout the day. It’s a practice that should be embraced by all American corporations as a way to stay calm, focused, and productive through the day.

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via Robert Piper: 6 Reasons Why Everyone in Corporate America Should Meditate.

Why a Little Bit of Stress Is Good For You | Greatist

There are times when I think I’d be much happier if I could spend the rest of my life lounging on the sands of the Mediterranean, having someone fan me with palm fronds while feeding me superfood grapes. In other words, life would be better without any stress. Or would it?

According to new research from the University of California, Berkeley, a little stress may not be so bad for us after all. While chronic stress may be harmful, acute (short-term) stress may actually boost our cognitive function. The findings are supported by other research suggesting a little bit o’ stress may have beneficial effects for our brains and bodies. The key, of course, is knowing when we’re too harried for our own good.

What’s the Deal?

Before we get into the science, let’s be clear that most of the research in this area involves rats, not humans, so it’s not entirely clear that the findings apply to people. For a while now, researchers have suspected that the effect of stress on the (rat) brain is like an upside-down U: Up to a certain point, stress boosts cognitive function; after that, it starts to take a negative toll [1] [2].

In this latest study, researchers wanted to see if short-term stress really would turn regular old rats into geniuses. So they subjected rats to acute stress by confining them in their cages for a few hours. The stress caused the rats’ corticosterone (a stress hormone) levels to shoot up for a few hours, and also caused the growth of new cells in the hippocampus, an area of the brain associated with memory function.

Two days after the stressful event, the researchers tested rats’ memories, and found nothing had changed. But two weeks later, the rats’ memories had significantly improved. Then the researchers got super-techy and figured out that the cells produced after the stressful event were the same cells involved in learning during the second round of memory tests. In other words, the acute stress had made the rats smarter. The scientists concluded that acute stress has a beneficial effect on cognitive function.

Is It Legit?

Possibly. Again, we’re talking about rats here. And while the researchers behind the latest study believe the findings apply to humans as well, there’s currently no way to monitor neural stem cells in the human brain, according to study co-author Daniela Kaufer.

There’s some evidence that acute stress is not only beneficial for rats’ brains, but also for their immune system. Stress hormones released in response to acute stress may warn the immune system about upcoming threats such as an infection [3]. On the other hand, studies of humans suggest that if the immune system is chronically exposed to stress hormones, we may become more susceptible to diseases [4].

Together these findings imply that acute stress ­— think a job interview or even a ride on a scary rollercoaster — might actually be necessary for our physical and mental health. It’s chronic stress — like being stuck in a bad job or relationship — that causes our health to decline, contributing to issues as serious as heart disease and obesity.

Still, it’s worth noting that some forms of acute stress may actually cause serious damage, as in the case of post-traumatic stress disorder. The UC Berkeley researchers say it’s still unclear why some types of acute stress have positive effects, and others can be so damaging. It might just be a question of individual experience, so it’s worth figuring out where our own optimal stress level lies.

Do you think a certain level of stress can be beneficial? Share your thoughts in the comments below or tweet the author directly at @ShanaDLebowitz.

via Why a Little Bit of Stress Is Good For You | Greatist.