The heart of self care

In my last blog I wrote about self care and provided ideas for ways to incorporate self care into your day. I believe at the heart of self care is meditation. Meditation is simply regulating the dysregulation in your mind. It is not necessarily religious or about a philosophy. Meditation is intentional attention to your breathing, movement or thoughts to quiet external noise and bring you calm.

Why is meditation so important for your health? It’s all about the stress. Our bodies are amazing and help us manage acute stress by increasing our heart rate and breathing, as we prepare to battle. This is helpful in an emergency, but many people are living in a chronic state of stress, which is harmful to our bodies.

Symptoms of chronic stress include; headaches, muscle tension or pain, fatigue, sleep problems, irritability, overeating or undereating, and social withdrawal. These are just a few of the effects of stress on your body, mind and behavior. Left untreated, these effects can lead to many health problems, including; heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes.

Studies have shown that mediation is effective in the management of chronic stress and can be in the forms of transcendental meditation, deep breathing, guided meditation, movement, and mindfulness. According to Transcendental meditation (TM) experts, it is simple, natural and effortless. It uses a mantra and is typically practiced twice a day for 15-20 minutes each time. It is taught individually by a certified teacher. There are many deep breathing techniques out there. Some believe in inhaling for a specific count, holding, and then exhaling for a certain count. Typically the focus is on the belly rising on the inhale and falling on the exhale. For beginners, guided meditation is a great option. There are many apps and videos for guided imagery. A technique called Progressive Muscle Relaxation, in which you tighten and relax muscle groups can be guided, or easily done on your own. Movement meditation includes yoga, Thi Chi, and Qi Gong, all of which are widely accessible through group classes or videos. Mindfulness as meditation may be more difficult for beginners. It requires you to be completely present in whatever activity you are engaged. The activity may be a shower, or craft, but the key is to focus on your senses as you engage in the activity, rather than letting your mind wander.

As a holistic health coach I believe there are many factors that come together to create your best health and I’m passionate about preventing disease with stress management. As Mother’s Day approaches I encourage you to think about the women in your life (yourself included) who would benefit from incorporating relaxation techniques, such as meditation. Life is busy and hard now, and it’s even harder when you are experiencing a major health crisis. I know this from personal experience! I can help you manage stress by incorporating techniques that will fit into your lifestyle. Contact me at for details.


Are you on the list?

Most Sunday’s on my facebook page, Inspired Vitality of Minnesota, I ask, “What are you doing for yourself today?” because I believe that self care is an important part of being healthy. We have to-do lists, but we forget to put ourselves on that list, and suddenly the day or week is gone. By not taking care of ourselves, we end up running on empty, and less able to care for others.

Self care simply means caring for your physical and mental health. It is also caring for your soul, your essence. It encompasses nourishing food, sleeping well, being physically active, and quiet and peaceful activities for a calm mind. If you sleep 8 hours per night, in 16 waking hours you have 960 minutes per day. Can you devote 10 minutes out of 960 minutes for you? Or more…are you worth 10, 20, 30, or even 60 minutes out of 960 each day? I say YES, you are worth it! Not only are you worth it, but when you care for yourself on a regular basis, you will find yourself in a better mood, and more motivated and better able to handle all your tasks and challenges.

If you are running on empty, you may not know where to begin, so ponder these questions. What makes you happy? What fills you with peace? I suggest you make a list and circle the items that you haven’t done lately, or that really stand out to you. Once you have the list, it’s time to take action, but I’m a realist. I know the desire to do things and the reality doesn’t always coinside. So, you may have to adjust your action steps according to your situation. For example, if you love to dance, but you have young children, it may not be realistic to go out dancing every Saturday night. But, you can turn on music at home and have a dance party! (A party of one, or more!)

If you are still stuck for self care ideas, here are some of my favorites:

  • Listen to music
  • Dance
  • Reading/journaling
  • Exercise
  • Prayer/meditation
  • Spend time in nature
  • Stretch
  • Cuddle with a pet
  • Try a new recipe
  • Plan a vacation
  • Make a bucket list
  • Pamper yourself
  • Do a craft or build something
  • Ride a bike
  • Garden or visit a farmers market
  • Go for a walk
  • Watch funny videos
  • Deep breathing
  • Coloring or playing with kinetic sand
  • Spending one-to-one time with someone you love

Today, while writing this blog I was listening to my favorite smooth jazz music. As I paused to listen to the music, I noticed that I was breathing deeper, it provided me with inspiration, and it made me smile. All this, because it feeds my soul.

The next time you start writing a to-do list, don’t forget about you. Practicing self care does not make you selfish! It’s self love, and if you practice self love, you will feel stronger, happier, and ready to take on the world!