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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 hhckatherine@gmail.com for details.

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