So much has happened since I announced the Be Well and Renew blog, both in my personal life and in the world that we share. There have been unexpected challenges that none of us could have predicted. Most people who I speak to are living in a constant state of overwhelm. Who of us ever imagined that doing something as basic as purchasing toilet paper or planning a week’s worth of meals because we don’t know what is available in the store would become a challenge? That schools, stores, restaurants, and even public services would shut their doors entirely for several months? Or that racial tensions, protests, and riots, would erupt literally overnight in a way that we have not seen for several decades?
And in the middle of all of this? We are trying to hold it together for the rest of our family. We are trying to be a source of calm for our children, for our elderly parents, for our spouses. It is common for us as adults to forget to care for ourselves during “normal” times, let alone right now.
Permission to Care for Yourself
As a culture, we put a lot of value on working tirelessly towards a goal. It’s part of what we call the American Dream. And as a culture, we are way too hard on ourselves sometimes. So, let’s talk about giving yourself permission to slow down, take a break, and care for yourself. Because contrary to popular belief, you can achieve your goals and also take care of yourself. In fact, you might achieve them faster if you take time to relax, be mindful, and be kind to yourself.
We spend our childhood counting down the days until we are grown up, so that we can oversee our day to day lives. As adults, we get to run our lives, make decisions, and not have to answer to someone like a parent. So as an adult, you don’t need someone’s permission to take a break. You don’t need anyone’s permission to change the pace of your life. Yet people are often reluctant to give themselves a break, to take the time to slow down. We waited all of those years to be in charge, and we are harder on ourselves than any parent! So, I am officially giving you permission to step back from the hustle of daily life to put yourself first, just like I talked about in the “welcome” post to this blog.
Why Relaxation is Important to Your Health
It is well-documented and understood that stress is detrimental to your health. Most people know that to be true. So, it should seem clear that relaxation and taking a break from stress is important to good health. Unfortunately, that’s part of the equation too many adults ignore.
According to the Mayo Clinic, relaxation techniques can provide health benefits like a slower heart rate, reduced blood pressure, better digestion, more steady blood sugar levels, and increased blood flow. Relaxation techniques like deep breathing and meditation are associated with health benefits including happiness and mental stability, weight loss, and even better exercise stamina. The good news is that meditation is something that you can begin immediately and rather easily.
Getting Started with Guided Meditation
Meditation is a practice in which you clear your mind and focus your thoughts inward. Meditation is about becoming unattached to our thoughts and not dwelling on them. I compare this to a leaf floating down the river. You can notice the leaf and let it float away without dwelling on it or giving it too much energy. This can be difficult for people who are new to meditation or to those with a lot of busy thoughts distracting them. It is not always easy to tell someone to clear their mind and let their worries and stresses float away, when they are used to those thoughts running amuck through their brain all day and consuming them.
Guided meditation, or guided visualization or imagery, is a form of meditation in which a trained practitioner or teacher walks you through focusing on your breath, relaxing your muscles, and letting your mind release your external thoughts and worries. According to The Chopra Center, “Guided meditations literally walk you through a meditation and help you find a calm and peaceful state—one step at a time.”
You can find guided meditation recordings to help navigate a variety of situations. There are options on YouTube, different internet sites, and several popular mobile phone applications. Popular subjects for guided meditation include calming anxiety, improving focus, falling asleep, gaining confidence, feeling gratitude, and more.
My Favorite Guided Meditation
There are four different guided meditation recordings that you can download from my Be Well and Renew store. My two favorites for taking a break and putting yourself first are the Detachment guided meditation and the Relax Me Response.
The Relax Me Response guided meditation uses easily accessible descriptions that are very useful for beginners. You will be led through a visualization that deeply enhances your body’s relaxation response. You will be so relaxed you will feel like you took a power nap! In the Detachment guided meditation, you will learn to let go of the things that keep you from living your best life each day. This guided meditation is a healthy pause in the middle of a busy or stressful day.
I hope that when you exit this page and go back to your day that you will take my permission to take a break as your excuse to do so. You shouldn’t need an excuse, but many people feel better when a wellness practitioner advises them to do so. Start off slowly and try these or other guided meditations once a day and see how you feel. With the peculiar state of the world these days, I have a feeling they will help you be well and feel renewed.
Remember, my wish is always for you to BE WELL!