As we continue to take more difficult classes in pursuit of becoming nurses, it is easy to forget about self-care. In an effort to prevent burn out, our group has integrated the practices of exercise and meditation into our daily schedules. In the following, we discuss how both mediation and exercise worked and didn’t work for us, what we learned while on this journey, and how we applied our learning to teach someone the skills and knowledge we obtained in meditation and exercise.
Countless research and studies have been conducted to explore the benefits of meditation and exercise in relation to people’s well-being. Dimeo, Thomas, Raabe-Menseen, Propper & Mathias (2004) studied the effects of exercise and relaxation on various post-operative cancer patients. The 72 participants, divided into two groups that either exercised on a stationary bike or practiced muscle relaxation techniques. Following the 3-week study, participants from both the exercise and relaxation group reported less fatigue and increased emotional function as well as improved overall health (Dimeo et al., 2004). In a German study, participants suffering from various forms of chronic or acute diseases, psychological distress or psychosomatic disorders, meditation were enacted in an attempt to provide participants with coping mechanisms to help alleviate stresses from their disorders. Following an 8-week meditation program, participants reported enhanced emotional and physical well-being, as well as improved psychological distress and increased conception of life (Majumdar, Grossman, Dietz-Waschkowski, Kersig, & Walach, 2002).
The similarities of meditation and exercise enhance the overall well-being in reaching optimum mind and body connection. For the members of the group, practicing meditation and exercise elicited many benefits including: increased concentration and focus, better affect, reduced stress, establishing routine and organized habits (e.g. sleep pattern improvement) and allowing the formation of both emotional and mental bonds.
Distinct differences are experienced as well. For the group members, exercise increases momentum throughout the day, boosting overall energy level and self esteem, while meditation has the opposite effect. While meditation does not offer this benefit, the group found that meditation gave the complementary benefit of releasing energy and staying in tune with ones spirituality. Mediation serves as a calming strategy by ridding negative thoughts accumulated throughout the day. Practicing meditation and exercise helped our group to optimize self-care.
Although we understand practicing self-care has positive benefits, group members had obstacles to overcome. Collectively, the biggest challenge was determining the best time to effectively perform theses activities. We attempted to practice our meditation techniques before and in between classes but were unable due to schedule conflicts. To overcome these obstacles, the group found that utilizing meditation at a time when it was most needed produced maximal benefit. For some group members, meditation was best used at night as it served as a calming strategy that reduced stress and provided relaxation. For other members, meditation was most used in a time of great stress during the day. Essentially, the group managed to incorporate meditation as needed, the definition of self care. Exercise was not problematic for the group.
Practicing self-care through meditation and exercise has provided our group with many teachings as well as highlighted the importance of incorporating health into our daily regime. Although the practice of self-care is intended to elicit positive effects, others experience were rather negative. Collectively our group learned that meditation and exercise served to reduce stress and increase productivity. Prior to this assignment we were jointly apprehensive to add new obligations to our already overloaded schedules. The new...
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