Why Mil­len­ni­als Are Turn­ing To Med­i­ta­tion For Work-Life Bal­ance

ForbesWeekly - - NEWS - BY JULES SCHROEDER, FORBES CON­TRIB­U­TOR

Med­i­ta­tion. I re­mem­ber the first time I heard a speaker men­tion it at a con­fer­ence I at­tended a few years ago. I im­me­di­ately thought of every stereo­type in the book. It wasn’t un­til af­ter my friend in­sisted I try it and I ac­tu­ally took him up on the of­fer that I soon re­al­ized med­i­ta­tion isn’t just for “su­per spir­i­tual peo­ple.” There’s a rea­son be­hind why it’s be­com­ing main­stream.

Forty-two per­cent of mil­len­ni­als have med­i­tated at least once in the past year, while med­i­ta­tion is nearly a $1B in­dus­try. So why is it be­com­ing so pop­u­lar?

The Amer­i­can Psy­cho­log­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion re­ports that mil­len­ni­als are the most stressed out gen­er­a­tion in his­tory. With so much pres­sure to per­form at work or make an im­pact on the world we of­ten end the day car­ry­ing a heavy load with us.

Mind­ful­ness and aware­ness, ben­e­fits re­ported from med­i­ta­tion, of­fer us the abil­ity to re­solve stress from the work day be­fore it neg­a­tively im­pacts our life, health and re­la­tion­ships.

Be­low, check out seven pow­er­ful ways med­i­ta­tion can re­store a health­ier bal­ance to your work and life. Ac­cord­ing to ex­perts, you can start ex­pe­ri­enc­ing these ben­e­fits with as lit­tle as ten min­utes of med­i­ta­tion a day.

1. It re­duces your stress lev­els. Mil­len­ni­als av­er­age at a 5.4 out of 10 on the stress scale, while 3.6 is con­sid­ered healthy. If you suf­fer from stress over­load, you aren’t alone—and for­tu­nately, there’s some­thing you can do about it.

Dr. El­iz­a­beth Hoge, as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor of psy­chi­a­try at Har­vard Med­i­cal School says, “Peo­ple with anx­i­ety have prob­lem deal­ing with dis­tract­ing thoughts that have too much power. But you can train your­self to ex­pe­ri­ence those thoughts com­pletely dif­fer­ently. You might think, ‘I’m late, I might lose

my job if I don’t get there on time, and it will be a dis­as­ter!’ Mind­ful­ness teaches you to rec­og­nize, ‘Oh, there’s that thought again. I’ve been here be­fore. But it’s just that—a thought.”

Johns Hop­kins University con­cludes that just 30 min­utes of med­i­ta­tion a day can help ease psy­cho­log­i­cal stresses like anx­i­ety, de­pres­sion, and pain.

2. It pro­motes health­ier eat­ing. 41% of mil­len­ni­als say that stress makes them overeat, par­tic­u­larly fill­ing up on junk foods. Be­sides be­ing a rem­edy for stress, med­i­ta­tion di­rectly pro­motes mind­ful­ness around eat­ing and is linked

to weight loss. TIME says mind­ful­ness sharp­ens a per­son’s abil­ity to rec­og­nize hunger cues and ig­nore crav­ings for un­healthy foods.

3. It can help you achieve your

goals. Have you no­ticed that many of the world’s most suc­cess­ful peo­ple med­i­tate? In­flu­en­tial fig­ures like Oprah Win­frey, Steve Jobs, Russell Brand, Ellen DeGeneres and Lady Gaga have been pub­lic about their med­i­ta­tion prac­tices.

Med­i­ta­tion could equal suc­cess be­cause of its link to goal-set­ting. The Ox­ford Mind­ful­ness Cen­tre found that af­ter just eight weeks of daily med­i­tat­ing, study par­tic­i­pants were able to iden­tify more spe­cific life goals than be­fore, and were more likely to achieve those goals than a con­trol group.

4. It im­proves your pro­duc­tiv­ity. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a “magic pill” that helped us get more done in a day, with a frac­tion of the ef­fort? Ac­cord­ing to sci­ence, med­i­ta­tion could be that pill. Stud­ies show that reg­u­lar med­i­ta­tion sup­ports higher func­tion­ing of at­ten­tion and fo­cus, im­proved mem­ory re­call, and more ef­fi­cient mul­ti­task­ing, all of which are es­sen­tial to pro­duc­tiv­ity.

5. It can make you more com­pas­sion­ate. In one study, a team of re­searchers from North­east­ern University and Har­vard University found that par­tic­i­pants ex­posed to med­i­ta­tion ses­sions were 50% more dis­posed to help a per­son in dis­tress while oth­ers stood by.

6. It can lower your health bill. In the Amer­i­can Jour­nal of Health Pro­mo­tion,

a five-year study com­pared the an­nual physi­cian costs of med­i­ta­tors ver­sus non-med­i­ta­tors. At the end of the study, the med­i­ta­tors re­duced their physi­cian costs by a cu­mu­la­tive 70%, as well as showed re­duced rates of ill­ness in all dis­ease cat­e­gories. With the av­er­age an­nual cost for health care at $10,345 per per­son, med­i­ta­tion could trans­late to real sav­ings.

7. It can make you hap­pier. Why is it that some peo­ple just seem to be “hap­pier peo­ple” than oth­ers? And is there any­thing we can do about it? Ac­cord­ing to sci­en­tists, we each have a “set point” of hap­pi­ness that re­mains rel­a­tively sta­ble through­out our lives. Even af­ter ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a sig­nif­i­cant loss or trauma, our set point even­tu­ally re­turns to nor­mal. But re­search shows that med­i­ta­tion can in­crease our set point of hap­pi­ness—in one study, af­ter just eight weeks of med­i­tat­ing for an hour a day, par­tic­i­pants saw an in­crease in their “set” hap­pi­ness lev­els.

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