Dealing with stress and anxiety

By Matthieu Ricard on September 26, 2009

Stress is a natural response that marshals all our energies to deal with an emergency — such as fleeing from a charging elephant for example. However, if you spend your entire day thinking that you are being charged by an elephant, it is very bad for your health. Chronic stress weakens the immune system, damages brain neurons, generates unusually high levels of cortisol in the blood, and so on and so forth.
In our daily lives, stress can be provoked by a specific event, a recurring situation or the manner in which we experience the world. Its source is our difficulty to deal with or accept situations and events. Stress is a concentrate of hopes and fears that invade our awareness.
A growing number of scientific studies demonstrate that practicing mindfulness meditation for 20 minutes a day over a period of 8 weeks significantly reduces stress, anxiety, anger and the tendency to depression.
Tip #1: Do away with your worries
If there's a solution, then there's no need to worry. If no solution exists, there is no point to worry.
Tip #2: One thing at a time
If you have many things to do, do them one at a time. You will work faster and better this way. Recent studies conducted at Stanford University revealed that multitasking actually reduce people's ability to concentrate and even slows down the capacity to switch between several tasks. Multitaskers perform worse and non-multitaskers in all attention tasks that have been studied. In other words, multitasking takes us more time to achieve worse results.
Tip #3: A bit of meditation
If you are gripped by anxiety, pause for a moment and simply try to be aware of this anxiety. As you «examine» your anxiety with the eye of mindfulness, it will loose its potency. Why? Because the part of you mind that is aware of the anxiety is not itself anxious. It is simply aware. As mindfulness expands, the anxiety that upset you will gradually fade and make way for renewed inner peace.