By Matthew Miller, PhD., Vice President, Behavior Science at StayWell
Stress is all but inevitable. Although some individuals may be more prone to stress than others, the reality is that most people have or will experience some form of stress at some point in their lives.
Increasingly, stress is often caused by work-related pressures — overwhelming workloads, looming deadlines and the 24/7 always-on mentality that’s become common corporate culture in America. In fact, according to the American Institute of Stress, the cost of work-related stress in the US is $300 billion annually.
The good news? Many corporations are now incorporating mindfulness and meditation programs into their wellness programs, as a growing body of scientific evidence suggests that even small amounts of meditation can help combat stress. Through our recent acquisition of Provata Health, we’ve adopted a groundbreaking virtual reality (VR) guided meditation platform designed to not only help reduce stress, but to also help prevent it from occurring in the first place.
In addition to stress reduction, VR meditation has proven to provide many other valuable benefits to individuals that ultimately impact their workplace productivity and the bottom line, including:
- Heightened attention span
Meditation can increase strength and endurance of an individual’s attention span. In fact, a recent clinical study revealed that employees who regularly practice mindfulness meditation focus on a task longer and remember details of their task longer than peers not practicing meditation. Another similar study concluded that meditation may even reverse brain patterns that contribute to mind-wandering, worry and poor attention to details.
- Effective pain management
One hundred million people in the US suffer from chronic pain and an estimated 20% take disability work leave as a result. Because pain perception is often connected with an individual’s state of mind, the regular integration of meditation into a treatment plan can reduce pain intensity and improve coping mechanisms. Further, meditation can also be used to help manage symptoms of chronic conditions like high blood pressure and heart disease.
- Fight addictions
It’s no secret that opioid abuse is a growing epidemic in the US, costing employers approximately $12 billion annually, with roughly 10-12% of American workers under the influence of drugs at work. Meditation can help break dependencies, increase self-control and heighten awareness of triggers for addictive behavior – from drugs to alcohol to binge eating and more.
- Combat insomnia, improve sleep
The National Sleep Foundation recommends adults under 65 years old get between seven to nine hours of sleep per night, yet 30% of adult employees report fewer than six hours of sleep nightly. Poor sleep habits have been tied to stress and work productivity. In a recent employer sleep study we conducted among 600,000 employees, those who reported “almost always” feeling tired during the day averaged 2.7 times more days absent and 4.4 times more productivity loss than employees who reported “almost never” feeling tired. Clinical studies have shown that meditation can help alleviate insomnia and improve sleep.
To learn more about how you can integrate guided meditation into your population health strategy, check out Provata VR from StayWell.