Stressed out? You are not alone….

It probably won’t surprise you to hear that recent figures showed the number of UK police officers taking time off for stress related issues has risen dramatically over the past couple of years. *

Less well known is the story this week that Greater Manchester Police have decided to take steps to tackle the problem head on – by offering lunchtime mindfulness courses. 13 officers have volunteered to train as advanced mindfulness practitioners. They’ll deliver meditation courses focusing on deep breathing and relaxation across the 11,000 strong force.

This news is music to my ears, as it shows a very deliberate move towards a more holistic way of thinking. It also fits in perfectly with our ethos. I am working really hard towards a shift in the way we approach healthcare in this country – hopefully I should be free to give you specifics in the near future! But, a greater openness towards the Eastern principles of prevention rather than cure would be very healthy for us all.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to get the message out that small steps really do reap huge benefits. Lunchtime meditation is clearly brilliant if it’s available to you, but – let’s face it – not a viable option for anyone who’s juggling small children at home or barely finds time to leave the office for a salad come 1pm. This is where my One-minute rituals really come into their own. In the time it takes to check Facebook or nip off for a bathroom break, you can re-set your focus, shake off the stress and calm your mind, ready for whatever rigours the afternoon has in store.

Although the name suggests doing it first thing, the Reset Ritual actually works a treat at any point in the day. Shaking your body from top to bottom dislodges any stagnation, so it’s a great exercise to do anytime to instant relieve stress. It’ll relax and warm up all the muscles, organs, joints and fascia of the body, loosen the spine and shoulders, improve your digestive function and release stored tension. Not bad for a single minute!

And with the Rescue Breath Ritual you’re basically creating a meditative state for your body – and the results are similar to an entire mindfulness session. That’s how powerful these exercises are. You also switch your nervous system into its parasympathetic (or rest) phase, stopping production of those stress hormones. Clearly, the more you do the rituals, the greater the benefits – but even just once a day will make a difference. And just thinking about those zenned out officers of the law makes me smile.