Quick! Relax and Refresh

Stress is a fact of life for many moms, and studies show that it can take a physical toll, from driving up blood pressure to weakening the immune system. But regular meditation can have a calming effect with lasting advantages, says Isabella Bates, a meditation leader at the Center for Integrative Medicine at George Washington University in Washington, DC.

Once you begin to meditate regularly, "you can fall back into that state of being quite quickly," even when faced with new stresses, Bates says. Because it can be difficult for on-the-go mothers to find quiet time, Bates designed a three- to five-minute meditation ritual that even her busiest clients can usually manage. Here's how to get started:

  1. Sit in a chair with a back high enough so that you can rest your head, or lie down on a bed or sofa.
  2. Practice thinking, "All my work is done and it is good."
  3. Take in a slow, deep breath that expands your rib cage. Then let it out and feel the release. Do this five times.
  4. On the sixth breath, try to find the tiny pause at the end when the act of breathing is finished and you are just being. Think, "Nowhere to go, nothing to do." Then feel the pleasure of the next deep breath.
  5. As the breathing continues, begin a letting-go process in which you feel every body part relax. Think of your foot and let it relax, then a leg and so on until your entire body feels relaxed. Some people prefer to first tense the body part before they release it.
  6. Finally, take your new relaxed self back to your children or the tasks needing your attention.

Meditations you can use:

Audio: New-Parent Meditations
Audio: Pregnancy Meditations

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