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Why mental health matters

Why mental health matters

Mental health is vital for our overall well-being. Those with serious mental illness have a higher risk of poor physical health and shorter life expectancy.

Research has shown that stress and anxiety can have a negative effect on physical health, such as increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke. If you’re the kind of person that rarely takes time out to have a peaceful moment, you could be working yourself into an early grave.

Mental wellbeing

Mental wellbeing

Organisations are now starting to recognise that stressful environments contribute towards the rise in employee absenteeism.

Here in France, workers won the right to disconnect from work-related activities outside office hours. Yet disconnecting from work doesn’t necessarily mean people are managing stress levels effectively.

Allowing your body and mind time to switch off is proven to have significant health benefits.

Burn out!

Burn out!

Stress is caused by psychological conditioning. Whenever you’re thinking, your brain is firing neurones which send electrical signals around the body.

Subsequently, overloading your brain can cause damage to your health in the long run. Translators and interpreters are the ultimate brain ninjas, utilizing their mental prowess all day long.

Project managers are no exception to this, as they deal with a plethora of stressors on a daily basis. Deadlines, invoicing, translator queries, and difficult clients are just a few of the issues that can take a toll on their mental health. If left unaddressed, these stressors can lead to burnout, anxiety, and depression.

Free mental health care

Free mental health care

Meditation is a simple and cost-free method to unwind and has been scientifically demonstrated to enhance one’s overall quality of life. Zen meditation is naturally quite relevant to the Word Connection team given our strong Japanese roots.

A positive difference

For most people, the aim of meditation is to calm the body, develop peace of mind, and improve physical health.

People who engage in regular Zazen meditation have reported experiencing the following improvements in various areas of their lives:

A positive difference

  • Lower blood pressure

  • Reduced stress and anxiety

  • Improved immune system

  • Better restorative sleep

  • Lower heart rate

  • Enhanced focus and mental performance

  • Develop social confidence and self-esteem

  • Increases memory retention

The Origins of Zen

It is believed that Zazen meditation, otherwise known as sitting meditation, originally started in China around the 6th Century CE before being integrated into Zen Buddhist traditions of South Korea and Japan.

It is the latter from where Zazen is most influential on the international stage today. Given the work ethic among the Japanese, sitting meditation is ingrained in Japanese culture.

Step-by-Step Guide To Zazen Meditation

Step-by-Step Guide To Zazen Meditation

Zazen meditation involves sitting in a relaxed position. However, sitting cross-legged in meditation is not essential but rather thought to be the best way for seated practice.

In order to meditate well, you need to breathe properly. Sitting in an upright position helps to straighten the spine and keep the diaphragm clear.

If you struggle to sit cross-legged on the floor, you can always use a meditation cushion or pillow to support the base of your spine.

In the West, people generally sit with their hands on their knees, palms facing upwards and the tips of the thumb and forefinger touching.

The correct hand position or Mudra is achieved by placing the back of your right hand in the palm of your left hand. This seated posture is commonly seen in Buddha statues around Japan.

Deep Breathing

Normally, most people don’t breathe deeply enough. As a result, insufficient quantities of oxygen get into the body. Given the amount of air pollution in congested cities, the blood cells have to work overtime to clear out the toxic waste.

Deep Breathing

Oxygen is needed to help rid the body of unwanted toxins. The more air you draw into your lungs, the more effective your immune system is.

Meditation involves breathing deeply, and slowly through the diaphragm which runs from the pit of your stomach into your upper chest and throat.

The first three breaths should be long and drawn out. Breathe in through your nose, and when your lungs are full, keep breathing so your abdomen expands.

Then slowly breathe out through the mouth. When the lungs are empty, continue pushing into the diaphragm until your stomach muscles tighten.

Repeat this diaphragm breathing exercise three times.

You can then relax your breathing to a comfortable rhythm but maintain long, slow breaths.


The purpose of Zazen is to focus on the body and mind so they come into union. The sensations in your body can sometimes tell you more about how you are feeling than the perceptions you have of life that form in your mind.

When you first begin your meditation practice, especially as a newcomer, initially focus your attention on your breathing. This helps centre your mind on your body.


Observe the rise and fall of your stomach. Get a sense of how cold air passes through your nostrils and into your chest before hot air is expelled from your mouth.

Once you are in a meditative state you can turn your attention to your body, mind, events that happened throughout the day, your past or your future.

Clear your Mind

However, the ultimate challenge for meditators is to clear their mind of thoughts. When a thought does enter the mind, let it flow, then let it go. If you allow your thoughts to take over, you are no longer meditating.

The best time to practice Zazen meditation is first thing in the morning, and most importantly, before going to sleep at night.

However, you can also adopt Zazen principles throughout the course of the day. It can also help your mind and body function at optimum levels at work.

So give yourself time to breathe, focus on your body and allow your mind to unburden itself of thoughts. Even if you only take a minute at a time, you will feel better for it.

why mental health matters


James Myatt

4 min read

Jun 28, 2019



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