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Can learning about stress help to relieve it?

Andy Puddicombe

When does your meditation start and when does it stop? Is that sense of awareness you get from your morning meditation something you carry with you throughout the day, or is it something you leave behind the minute you walk out the door to work? Well, if yesterday’s news about workplace stress is anything to go by, then there is now just one more reason to ensure that you carry that mindful awareness with you - wherever you go.

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According to a CIPD report (that’s the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development for anyone not familiar with that particular acronym), chronic stress is now the biggest cause of longterm sickness in the workplace - but then let’s be honest, it was always just a matter of time before it made it to the No1 spot. But now it’s official. And perhaps (just perhaps) that means that employers will finally start to take it seriously. The causes of that stress just serve to underline that no matter how much we wish we could, we can’t control everything in our external environment. So, no matter whether it’s an angry boss, job security, long hours, increased responsibilities (or any of the other reasons mentioned in the report), ultimately it is up to us to deal with how we process the stress we feel.

So, we can keep telling ourselves “I’m stressed, I’m stressed, I’m stressed” and thereby ensure that’s the way we feel, or we can take a slightly different perspective and use our new found awareness to be curious. So, is stress a physical feeling? Is it an emotional feeling? Is it a story in the mind? Is it a combination of all three and if so, which one starts it all off? If you take the time to get to know stress (through the application of mindfulness), then it can start to look like an altogether different beast. In fact, strange as it may sound, stress might even turn out to be your friend.

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