Does the Brexit reference only send your levels of stress to the heights? If so, you are not alone. New research shows that two-thirds of Britons are more stressed overall than they were five years ago, with one third of people today relying on current affairs such as global warming, pollution and Brexit as an important source of this of stress.
These are the findings of the recent Headspace British state of mind research, exploring how stress affects people living and working in the UK. The research, commissioned by the Global Meditation and Sensitization Company, Headspace, investigates the common anxiety exercises and the treatment mechanisms we use to try to keep ourselves healthy and balanced.
It is no surprise that what we can regard as typical anxiety – concerns for money, labor pressures and family issues – are all at the top of the list of things we say are of concern to us.
But the most interesting thing is how our current affairs are also causing stress, now more than ever. Place the typical causes of money and worries of work against Britain's current political uncertainty, for example, and of course adds to periods of anxiety for the British population. Of the top issues related to current affairs, 70% of people said that Brexit was the thing that made them feel more intense, more noticeable to younger generations – GenZs and Millennials.
How we feel the stress, what causes it and how we treat it is a unique personal thing. Regardless of how large or small the cause, the physical and psychological effects may be the same.
Stress itself is not the point. everyone feels stressed sometimes. In fact, it is only the temporary reaction of the body to the feeling that it is threatened or pressed. This helped human beings survive as a species. However, if we feel that we are constantly suffering, we can create harmful physical, mental and emotional symptoms.
Stress can make us more intense and irritable, less able to concentrate on work, less motivated and more energetic than usual. Women report that they are more affected by anxiety than men, with weight gain, insomnia and skin problems such as acne as a result of feeling under pressure.
Well, how do we deal with stress feelings? It may be that we do the very British thing to "put the kettle" and make a cup of tea or coffee. With 9 out of 10 people who say lack of sleep is a major cause of anxiety, this simply leads to a self-limiting cycle of misery.
But there is a mechanism of treatment that is increasingly beneficial for stress levels and general health: meditation. Meditation has been for thousands of years. Once considered as the preservation of monks worn by saffron, only the health benefits are recognized by the medical profession and the scientists.
In fact, Headspace has the largest body of research for meditation and sensitivity with more than 65 studies based on documented studies that have been completed or are under way. The results to date remain impressively positive in terms of the material benefits of meditation for health and happiness by demonstrating that Headspace reduces stress, improves focus, increases compassion, and even reduces aggression.
Learning how to practice meditation and sensitivity is becoming more accessible and basic, thanks to technology such as applications and the use of smartphones. For example, attention is drawn to classes and meditation exercised in conference rooms. While only one in four respondents said they were paying attention or meditation, half of the respondents said they recognized the benefits of meditation and mentality and that 70% said they wanted to take a consciousness or meditation.
With the growing popularity of applications like Headspace, sensitivity and meditation have become more easily accessible, giving relief from stress in our hands. Now it is considered as something that can be done at home or in the middle or at lunch break at work. It only takes a few minutes, but the benefits are clear: improved focus, reduction of stress and stronger relationships.
In fact, we are pioneering even more ways to integrate meditation into medicine. Through our new Headspace Health subsidiary, we are in the process of delivering the world's first recipe for global prescription in 2020 when we expect our first product in a portfolio of newly developed, clinically validated programs and meditation programs cleared by the FDA specially designed to encounter widespread chronic stress-related illnesses.
Attention and meditation seem to become a more recognized part of the way our society grows and grows. An example is the launch of the Headspace Mindful Cab experience – a black London cabin that gives passengers the chance to meditate during the journey – and is just the beginning of how the most cautious approach can easily be integrated into the daily Zoe. It is a new idea, but one that seems to start as the nation embraces attention and meditation as a way of exerting the pressure of everyday life and the unstable waters of the current political landscape.
Dr. Megan Jones Bell is Head of Science at Headspace