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  • Writer's pictureSANDRINE GELIN G&L SHIFT

How do you keep your sanity and do what matters in times of stress?

The contribution of research and neuroscience

Many workers are experiencing work distress, both physically and psychologically. More than half of European employees say that they regularly, or even very often, experience stress directly related to their work. And an estimated 15% of working-age adults have a mental disorder at any point in time. In that context, what resources can we use to make a difference in our own life?

Interestingly enough, the most reachable ones are simple breathing & meditation exercises, which is part of "Mindfulness" - a meditation technique in which you train yourself to be aware of each moment in a non-judgemental way. One simple mindfulness technique involves focusing on one's breath for instance.

Consistently, studies have shown that meditation & breathing based approaches can have a measurable effect. They are in fact more effective than more conventional, cognitive strategies for stress-management (i.e, how to change your thoughts about stress). While both approaches produce significant increases in social connectedness, meditation & breathing based approaches are more beneficial in terms of immediate impact on stress, mood, and conscientiousness. Mindfulness can actually buffer stress, as you become aware of challenges and those more ruminative responses, a tendency to worry.

More recently, Neuroscience has shed a new light on mental health and brain plasticity: Mindfulness exercises can help keep our minds healthy as Mindfulness can actually change the brain through its high plasticity. When the stress hormone cortisol increases and remains high, it can become toxic for your brain. Stress directly inhibits neuroplasticity, so managing it allows the brain to remain more plastic. In a way, breathing and meditating can help us "rewire our brain".

To discover more about breathing techniques and how it can help you sustain greater emotional well-being and lower your stress levels at work and beyond, check the following resources:

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