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Stillness is the antidote to the #hustle

Esha Oberoi, founder and CEO of in-home aged and disability care provider Afea Care Services, believes that we need to stop glorifying "the hustle" and instead appreciate a moment of silence and stillness. 

A few years into running the business she launched at just 24 years old, Esha found herself forgetting simple things and experiencing an overwhelming brain fog. At the time, she had no idea what was happening and requested an MRI to check that there was nothing serious at the root of it. When the results came back clear, her doctors diagnosed that stress was the culprit. 

"I was headed towards burnout, juggling everything in the business by myself and taking on more than I could manage. I was shocked that stress alone could have such an impact on my focus and clarity," she said. 

Burnout is on the rise

A Deloitte marketplace survey of 1,000 full-time professionals in the US found that 77 per cent of respondents said they'd experienced burnout in their current job, with 91 per cent citing having an unmanageable amount of stress or frustration that negatively affected the quality of their work. 

Knowing something needed to change, Esha set about researching ways to reduce her stress levels and came across mindfulness and meditation – the health benefits of which are now widely recognised, with celebrity-endorsed apps like Headspace attracting over a million subscribers.

"Finding meditation was one of the most transformative things that could have happened to me," she said. 

"Every day, I take time out to meditate, even if it's just 5-10 minutes. If I find myself becoming stressed now, I take myself into a silent, empty room, close the door and sit in silence and just observe my thoughts for 10 minutes. My memory has actually sharpened from the regular practice and I need to take less notes now than I did even before I became really stressed."

Our stress response, often known as the fight or flight response begins in the amygdala, part of the limbic system responsible for managing emotions.

One Harvard study demonstrated that the experience of stress can not only be reduced with an eight-week mindfulness training program, but that this corresponds with structural changes in the amygdala. 

Put simply, regular mindfulness meditation actually changes our brain physiology.

Recognising the significant benefits of meditating, Esha introduced group meditations before each business meeting, allowing her staff to come to meetings with greater focus and compassion. 

This year, Afea Care Services will become the first in-home aged and disability care service to offer guided meditations at each session between carers and clients.

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“Kindness is the language that the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” – Mark Twain