Nutrition professionals can be in a constant state of “Go! Go! Go!” Whether your day involves a long commute, a packed schedule of clients, or just the general entrepreneurial hustle, it’s easy to forget about self-care. Self-care often includes eating healthfully and taking breaks to include physical activity, but it also can involve meditation. Meditation has been gaining popularity in recent years despite being around for millennia. It was once believed to be practiced only in yoga studios and remote mountains but is now being encouraged in offices, hospitals, and even schools.
What Is Meditation?
Meditation is a conscious state of rest for the mind. Unlike sleep, the mind and body are aware of what’s happening both internally and in the environment. The goal of meditation is to remain in the present moment—not reflecting on the past or thinking ahead to the future. So sitting calmly and thinking about what you’re going to have for lunch isn’t exactly meditating; the goal is to allow the mind to be completely at rest.
Why You Need a Meditation Vacation
Putting your mind in this “shut down mode” has been shown to have benefits, such as the following, that go beyond simple stress relief:
- increased creativity and productivity;
- improved sleep;
- reduced blood pressure;
- lower blood sugar; and
- reduced anxiety.
On top of all these benefits, the best part about meditation is that it’s free and you can do it anywhere.
How to Get Started
The easiest way to get started with a meditation practice is to focus on your breathing. Start by closing your eyes and breathing in and out of your nose. Begin to lengthen your exhales by counting to three on the inhale and down from three on the exhale. Push any other thoughts aside and focus just on the breath. Do this for one to two minutes—you’re officially meditating.
Make Time and Space in Your Day
Find a time of day that best works for you. Some people enjoy meditating first thing in the morning, while others make an effort to do it right before bed to calm the mind. If you commute, take a few moments in your parked car to take some breaths before or after work.
Aim to find a peaceful space so you can limit as many distractions as possible. Many workspaces now have dedicated conference room hours that can be used for meditation. Find an empty office space or bench outside to make your Zen zone at work. I’ve even seen people in deep meditation on the NYC subway.
There’s an App for That
Need a little help getting started with your meditation practice? Check out a few of these popular apps that provide a mix of calming music, guided meditations, and breathing exercises. (It should be noted that these shouldn’t be used while driving.) Many of these apps have free versions, which are ideal for getting started. Paid subscriptions are available if you’re looking to go deeper into your meditation practice. Consider one of the following apps:
- Simple Habit: five-minute daily meditations;
- Calm: guided three- to 25-minute meditation sessions;
- Headspace: subscription-based service for meditation;
- Relax Melodies: sounds and melodies to assist with better sleep;
- Relax Meditation: includes a free five-day introductory program with subscription; and
- Ten Percent Happier: free beginner options and a subscription service.
— Mandy Enright, MS, RDN, RYT, is the owner of Team with ME: Nutrition & Fitness Consulting, a communications and corporate wellness company based at the Jersey Shore. She’s also a certified 500 Hour Registered Yoga Teacher. A former advertising executive, Mandy combines her business expertise with nutrition knowledge to assist colleagues in building their businesses through branding, advertising, and relationship skills. Learn more about Mandy at www.mandyenright.com and follow her on social media @mandyenrightRD.