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Erin Nitschke

As the working mom of a busy three-year-old, I am completely transparent when I admit the pressure of fulfilling multiple roles and responsibilities gets to me. I get busy. And, I forget to breathe. I forget to re-prioritize the “busy” and allow myself space and grant myself grace to practice self-care. Busyness is a part of the human journey – it’s how we make a living, fulfill obligations, raise children, nurture relationships, and grow intellectually. It’s also why we feel stressed at times; it’s also why we need to engage in consistent self-care efforts.

Self-care does not mean selfish or self-centered. Self-care means granting permission to take an adult timeout. Pressing “pause” can re-balance the pressure, reset the mind, and reduce stress by doing something as simple as mindfully breathing in and out.

Put Yourself in Timeout.

Like many health-related aspects, there’s no single prescriptive approach to “taking a moment.” The point is to just take it and find what works for you as an individual. Consider trying some of these techniques.

Synchronized breathing —

  • When the stress mounts, breathing and the heart rate increase. This is a natural physical response to external pressure or fear. The key here is to learn to intentionally control your breathing and lower the heart rate. When you feel stressed or pressured, find a quiet space, close your eyes, and breathe in for 5 counts and out for 5 counts. Repeat.

5-minute meditation —

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  • What the mind thinks, the body often feels. Meditating is an effective approach to resetting the mind and nurturing peace. Bonus – meditation doesn’t cost anything or require equipment. The only requirement is mental focus and intention. Choose a word that sets your intention for the day – such as calm, peace, joy, etc. Sit quietly and focus only on that word. If you find your mind drifting, bring it back to the word you selected. Breathe in and out using the 5-count method.

Body scan —

  • Both the body and mind respond to stress. If stress is chronic and unmanaged, it can morph into a physical illness. Cultivate body awareness to better identify and recognize when stress is impacting you on a physical level. To do this, take a two-minute break and scan from head to toe. Ask “Where do I feel discomfort or pain? Where do I perceive soreness or tightness?” The areas that are sore or tight are the areas that need the most attention. Send your focus there.

Mindful moment —

  • Sometimes the pressures get to us because we give attention to the negative. Negativity is loud and has the ability to cloud the mind. We can clear that “noise” by consciously shifting the mindset to mindfully appreciate the positive. An effective method to achieve this is by starting and ending the day with a note of gratitude. Keep a gratitude journal as a reminder to seek the good.

No one can pour from an empty cup. Take the time to nourish yourself.

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Dr. Erin Nitschke, NFPT-CPT, NSCA-CPT, ACE Health Coach, Fitness Nutrition Specialist, Therapeutic Exercise Specialist and Pn1 is a health and human performance college professor, fitness blogger, mother and passionate fitness professional. Visit her personal blog at belivestaywell.com. She can be reached at erinmd03@gmail.com

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