A woman who had just survived a heart attack recently contacted me. She was wisely reaching out for help to deal with her stress, and she rightly connected a lifetime of it to her current situation. I’m helping her learn to meditate, but I also gave her several other ideas to pursue.
I offer these low cost or free ideas to you now, inviting you to implement one or more before a health crisis hits you.
At the point of a health crisis, your body is sending you a powerful message. It’s asking you to respond by making changes in your lifestyle. A health crisis is a wake-up call, but not everyone is lucky enough to get a second chance to make those changes. Act now, and you could prevent serious trouble in the future.
I often see people who are very giving and very demanding of themselves. Eventually, that catches up with them and, in the wisdom of the body, they’re told to change, or else.
Does this sound familiar?
My first, and sincerest recommendation to people in this situation is take something off your plate. Or two things!
You must do your life differently, or your health will continue to decline, and then you won’t be around to enjoy your creative pursuits, your family, or take care of anyone else. Try to make different choices, such as asking for help, getting the kids involved more in taking care of themselves and the house, or taking just a bit more time for your self-care.
Here are some ideas for you to try:
1. Look for local opportunities for gentle movement and stress reduction workshops or classes in your area. Try the local gyms, fitness centers; yoga studios, and the Y.
2. There are some excellent guided imagery CDs by Belleruth Naparstek under the label Health Journeys. Visit the website here: www.healthjourneys.com.
3. Get your kids more involved in helping to do things around the house and look after themselves, the skills they need for life. If you’re having trouble getting through to them or keeping them on track, learn new ways to communicate from a short and powerful book by State College psychologist Neal Hemmelstein, Ph.D. Check out this smart book, half for parents and half for teens, at www.raising-teenagers.com
4. Your local library has or can get meditation and mindfulness CDs. Check there for free resources, or the app they recommend.
5. If you could only change one thing in your life, my highest recommendation would be that you exercise regularly, such as walking for 30 minutes, three times per week. I think it might be more, or at least as beneficial to you than meditating, especially if it’s challenging to quiet your mind. Studies have shown that regular exercise has a powerful effect on your health, in both body and mind. Get the OK from your doctor, start slowly, and make it a routine.
6. Dump the stressful thoughts into a journal. Get an inexpensive composition notebook, and every morning, take just a few minutes to fill three pages of it with a nonstop stream of consciousness writing. Just dump your mind on to the paper. Don’t worry about grammar, punctuation, or censoring yourself. When you finish, close the book and go about your day. Hide it if you’re worried about someone reading it. Don’t ever reread what you’ve written. When the notebook is full, keep or burn it, doesn’t matter. Go on to the next one. (Patterned after a technique called “Morning Pages” by Julia Cameron in The Artists’ Way)
7. Google: “online meditation” and see the free online courses, groups, and challenges.
I believe in you!
Make one small change and show yourself that you are worth caring about, that you can take control of your own life, and that you don’t have to live the way you have in the past anymore. It won’t be easy, but anyone who can keep up a schedule like yours is pretty powerful!
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