Most of my coaching these days is with men in construction.  These guys are hard-working, tough, no-nonsense individuals.  They are used to navigating high stress situations.  And these days many of them are showing signs of significant stress:  drinking too much, not exercising, eating poorly, difficulty controlling their emotions, very little time away from work, no hobbies or special interests, almost no time with friends, distracted thoughts, difficulty prioritizing and a generally flat emotional affect.  Some show signs of chronic depression.   And you may or may not know construction in the USA is the #2 industry for suicides.

There are lots of reasons for their experience of high stress.  Some are self-induced reasons, others are market-induced.  Some are created by the culture of their company or things like difficulty getting supplies in time.

One of the guys I coach recently said to me “I want less stress Tom… and I do not want to sit and meditate and light candles….I want real solutions.”

This was an interesting comment.  So, we talked about diet and exercise and alcohol and how much labor he wanted to do after his regular work.  I choose my battles.

Perhaps another day I will share with him what the Mayo Clinic believes.  In short they say that meditation reduces stress.  “Meditation:  A simple, fast way to reduce stress”  This should not surprise anyone who is paying attention to modern science.  It may not be what you want, or feel touchy feely to the average tough guy, but it actually has been proven to lower blood pressure, decrease emotional reactivity and promote better leadership.

I’m not sure lighting a candle makes a difference, but whatever helps you calm your nervous system and control your inner-self will pay multiple dividends for you and those you work among.

If you want a great resource, see the workbook written by my friend and colleague Brent Darnell, The Tough Guy Survival Kit

Meditation: A simple, fast way to reduce stress

Meditation can wipe away the day’s stress, bringing with it inner peace. See how you can easily learn to practice meditation whenever you need it most.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

If stress has you anxious, tense and worried, consider trying meditation. Spending even a few minutes in meditation can help restore your calm and inner peace.

Anyone can practice meditation. It’s simple and inexpensive. And it doesn’t require any special equipment.

And you can practice meditation wherever you are — whether you’re out for a walk, riding the bus, waiting at the doctor’s office or even in the middle of a difficult business meeting.

Understanding meditation

Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years. Meditation originally was meant to help deepen understanding of the sacred and mystical forces of life. These days, meditation is commonly used for relaxation and stress reduction.

Meditation is considered a type of mind-body complementary medicine. Meditation can produce a deep state of relaxation and a tranquil mind.

During meditation, you focus your attention and eliminate the stream of jumbled thoughts that may be crowding your mind and causing stress. This process may result in enhanced physical and emotional well-being.

Benefits of meditation

Meditation can give you a sense of calm, peace and balance that can benefit both your emotional well-being and your overall health. You can also use it to relax and cope with stress by refocusing your attention on something calming. Meditation can help you learn to stay centered and keep inner peace.

And these benefits don’t end when your meditation session ends. Meditation can help carry you more calmly through your day. And meditation may help you manage symptoms of certain medical conditions.

Meditation and emotional and physical well-being

When you meditate, you may clear away the information overload that builds up every day and contributes to your stress.

The emotional and physical benefits of meditation can include:

  • Gaining a new perspective on stressful situations
  • Building skills to manage your stress
  • Increasing self-awareness
  • Focusing on the present
  • Reducing negative emotions
  • Increasing imagination and creativity
  • Increasing patience and tolerance
  • Lowering resting heart rate
  • Lowering resting blood pressure
  • Improving sleep quality