Breath in. Breath out. Is it that simple to get rid of stress?
It’s amazing how much your average worker repeats the “Monday Blues” mantra, while taking every chance they can get to splurge on therapies of the retail, food or travel kind. And small wonder.
In 2012, a poll taken by the Health Promotion Board (HPB) from 8,000 Singaporeans had 1 in 5 citing they were under increasing work stress. This rose to 1 in 2 in 2015. With “presenteeism” and other unhealthy workplace trends that add nothing to actual productivity on the rise, it would seem this is a downward mental spiral for workers locally. Some of the effects of stress from a study by Officevibe, cites 48 percent of subjects have trouble sleeping, and 58 percent noticed more fights with their loved ones — all due to stress.
But have you tried an age-old therapy of another kind — meditation?
Meditation has been seen more as a spiritual tool than a mental one, so I was curious to see how that could help with stress. I was your textbook skeptic, except with maybe a touch more curiosity. Excluding the thousands who are icons of peace practising it behind monastic doors, even Silicon Valley executives and Oprah Winfrey testify to the mental rejuvenation they get from meditation.
When I first started asking around about meditation, I got this very common response: “Oh I cannot blank out my mind”. However, my sessions at a holistic centre here have erased that myth — that meditation is about embracing “nothingness”. Instead of tuning out, you’re actually tuning in.
Over several sessions, I explored breathwork with my teacher, using it as a tool to guide the meditation journey. There was no chanting, no religious symbols and I was definitely not made for a lotus-position. It was plain, simple and freeing. But was it helpful in easing my stress?
After a month or two, my answer is a clear — yes. Initially, the stress-relief only stayed with me during the hour I was in the space. But now, it seems to be there 70 percent of the time, helping me to buffer the strains of everyday.
But if you’re one too shy to dive into this, there’s actually an easy option in your very hands. Apps like Headspace, Focus Zen and Tiny Calm can be your way of testing this out. Give it a go and go to “mind gym” as my teacher would say.