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Can learning about stress help to relieve it?

by Andy Puddicombe

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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.

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.

Andy Puddicombe

Andy Puddicombe is a meditation and mindfulness expert. An accomplished presenter and writer, Andy is the voice of all things Headspace. In his early twenties, midway through a university degree in Sports Science, Andy made the unexpected decision to travel to the Himalayas to study meditation instead. It was the beginning of a ten-year journey which took him around the world, culminating with ordination as a Tibetan Buddhist monk in Northern India. His transition back to lay life in 2004 was no less extraordinary. Training briefly at Moscow State Circus, he returned to London where he completed a degree in Circus Arts with the Conservatoire of Dance and Drama, whilst drawing up the early plans for what was later to become Headspace.