Why meditation, breathing exercises, and yoga don’t work to decrease stress.

I can hear the top-knotted hippies choking on their kale and quinoa salad. “Of course meditation, breathing and yoga reduce stress!” they would be saying. “How else would I get through my day at the vegan restaurant without my daily 4-hour long cross-legged, mediation and breathing immersion?”

We have all read articles about wellness, well-being and the importance of looking after your mental health. Numerous studies say meditation can improve your blood pressure and decrease anxiety. Yoga feels fantastic (even if, like me, you are crap at it) and can add to any exercise regime by improving flexibility and strength.

So why don’t most of us practice these things regularly? (Apologies to those rare ones who do)

We are constantly multitasking, and there aren’t enough hours in the day. So, instead of looking at Yoga, breathing, and meditation as essential additions to our wellness, we write them off as hippy bullshit and strap ourselves in for another day on the treadmill. Being time poor creates scarcity (of time) and time becomes a dominant thought. Unfortunately, the peripheral things that don’t directly appear to get you closer to your goals are the first ones to drop off. Namely, yoga, meditation and breathing exercises.

Why is it so easy write these things off?Why do so many people not embrace the positive benefits of things like yoga and become closed minded about how much meditation can improve the thinking process? The problem is that modern life has got so competitive and, if we aren’t good at something, we don’t do it. This is one reason why unfit, stressed out executives won’t roll out the yoga matt and give it a go. They know they will be crap at it and instead of risking their fragile egos they write it off as hippy bullshit. It’s a bit like the first day in the gym, it’s stressful, and if your relationship with stress and possible failure is not very good, you will avoid it. I am terrible at both Yoga and meditation but do them most days. Here is an article that may help with if you suck at meditation.

Survivor bias is another reason. We look at people like Elon Musk, Warren Buffet, and Mark Zuckerberg and take a lot of notice of their business record or portfolio tips. Do we take note of their wellness strategies? Even if we do, it’s easy to write these strategies off as being something that you can do when you are rich and famous. These things are often the reason people are successful, not something they can do because they are successful.

What would happen if a leader in a business decided to encourage his staff to meditate?

Would you look like a goose? Would it mean that you don’t care about deadlines? Or, would it mean that you are self-aware enough to know that clearing the mind and rebooting will make their staff more efficient?

A mate of mine in the founder of a large lifestyle company and leads the creative, marketing and new products arm of the business. He is a hard-arse, but now regularly leads his team in 10min meditation sessions. It has been so beneficial, that team members are now instigating the sessions when they feel they have reached a roadblock. Their entire unit is happier, more self-aware and, not surprisingly, more effective.

We all know the benefits of Yoga, Breathing, and meditation. What we have to do, is catch ourselves when we make excuses for NOT doing them. We have to catch ourselves writing them off as “hippy bullshit” and make them a critical part of our daily routines. Make these things your “not negotiables” and do them every day. You are not going to miss anything by takings 30 seconds out of your day for some deep breathing. Swap the Today show for a morning Yoga session and start your day with a five minute mind-awareness exercise before getting out of bed.

Meditation, yoga and breathing help create self-awareness that can help make stress non-stick. They work, they help, we just need to believe in them and, more importantly, practice them.

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