Psychology: Can meditation ease the stress epidemic?

The pressures of modern life are leading more of us to declare ourselves stressed.

Long hours, finances, family life and the recession are among the issues that have led the World Health Organization to deem stress “the health epidemic of the 21st Century”.

Just last week YouGov and the Mental Health Foundation (MHF) reported that 29 per cent of people in the UK are stressed according to a poll of 2,000 adults, and nearly half of workers struggle to switch off from their jobs.

The MHF has deemed mindfulness as a ray of hope in treating stress, but is a practice with roots in ancient Buddhism really applicable today?

Leeds Beckett University certainly thinks so. In 2011 it became the first university in the UK to run modules in mindfulness meditation in psychology undergraduate and postgraduate courses.

Dr Elliot Cohen, chartered psychologist and lecturer at Leeds Beckett, says the practice has helped him to maintain the “work-life balance” over 20 years, having first written about it as a student in 1998.

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