Emma Nutrition

Simplifying the science through cooking and education. When I'm not on Mummy duties…

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I hate the term ‘me time’!

This week I read a blog post by Jana Bakunina about ‘me time‘. She was prompted to write about it after reading a seemingly derogatory article about it. It got me thinking….I remember when I first had my children I was told “you need to have some time to yourself” or “take a little me time“. No! Not only did I not feel the need for me time, I found the concept alarmingly stressful. Why would I want to spend time away from my baby?! My baby whom I was breastfeeding and by that was reducing my blood pressure. My (troublesome in pregnancy) blood pressure, by the way, shot up to 176/125 (it should be 120/80) when my second son was in the neonatal unit while I was in a room a couple of hundred metres away – unable to get to him. It dropped down as soon as I was with him…..and feeding him. So time away from my babies has never been a concept I agree with nor encourage. It did become a problem when I had to drive home with foils in my hair once after my 8 month old refused to take a bottle….over-bleached hair by the way takes about a year to recover!

Now that my babies are not quite so tiny and that I like to perhaps sit and have a ponder about things at times I have to question whether I now need ‘me time’ or as the eloquent Jen commented: we all need time to ruminate, ponder and explore. Would I actually like to sit in a cafe and watch the world go by? Would I like to have a shower in peace and think about the horse riding lesson or the running route I am going to take that day? The answer is, guiltily, yes. Even as I write this my 3yo is in bed wriggling next to me and it is very distracting; the constant wriggling and moving and jumping and noise and pressure to act, react, create a Lego masterpiece or negotiate a war over a paratrooper doll.

In the name of research but really to ease my guilt over desiring a little clear-headed time I pulled out a book I often refer to for hypertension (high blood pressure). In it the author discusses stress and our reaction to it. He aptly points out that its impossible to avoid all of the stressors of life, but you can do something to lessen their effects on your physical, mental and emotional health. We all have a stress response and the antidote to this stress response is the relaxation response. Doing progressive relaxation has been proven to lower blood pressure.

Progressive relaxation:

  • Sit in a comfortable chair pr lie on a mat on the floor and close your eyes.
  • Let your arms lie at your sides or your hands relaxed in your lap if you’re sitting up.
  • Take a deep breath: slowly inhale for 4 counts, hold for 4 counts, and exhale for 4 counts. Repeat if desired then resume normal breathing.
  • Focus on your feet; relax them completely letting all the tension go.
  • Then focus on your ankles, your calves and all the way up through your body, relaxing all of your muscles one by one, including those on you read and face.
  • Try to take 20 minutes to complete this process. When you’re finished gradually begin to wake up again by wriggling your fingers and toes, and gently shaking out your arms and legs.
  • Take your time getting up. Slowly and gently ease back into the real world.
  • I’ve practiced relaxation for hypnobirthing and for yoga and meditation and doing it at home just isn’t the same. I’ve had the kids start screaming at me, do a poo or want a drink/food/puzzle etc. So to get my 20 mins of health inducing, stress busting, blood pressure lowering time I need to chill out and breathe deeply for a consistent 20 minutes. Of course to be creative and have more independent thought we also need a consistent unbroken time frame to free our thoughts and move forward. Would JK have written Harry Potter had she had a warm house and not had to sit in a coffee house all day without distractions of housework?!

    As Kate commented on Jana’s post: maybe referring to it as ‘me time’ makes it worse, makes us feel more guilt for taking it because we see it as just for us. If we considered the knock on effect of us feeling better and more rounded on our families and friends then it’s not quite so selfish after all!. If we considered the long term health benefits of 20 minutes a day of stress-relieving activity we might just be more willing to do it.

    What do you think of “me time”?

    Jana can be found here at Ladies who Impress.


    Does mountain gazing count as ‘me time’?!

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    Cultivating emotional intelligence

    Mediation is becoming the new norm at Google HQ. I know what you are thinking…. “only in America!” Well could they be onto something?

    It turns out that cultivating emotional intelligence is not only good for our well being and relationships but it also fosters creativity and stress management.

    We’re basically the descendants of nervous monkeys,” says Bill Duane (an IT geek turned zen master) the kind with hair-trigger fight-or-flight responses. In the modern workplace, these hyperactive reflexes are now a detriment, turning minor squabbles into the emotional equivalents of kill-or-be-killed showdowns. In such situations, the amygdala—the region of the brain believed to be responsible for processing fear—can override the rest of the mind’s ability to think logically. We become slaves to our monkey minds.

    I’m all for reducing stress and diffusing emotional outbursts at work but I do wonder if this practice is disinclusive. Will those who don’t wish to take part be alienated or discriminated against? Not promoted perhaps due to being perceived as ‘unwilling to better themselves’. And is it being done for the right reasons?

    Googlers don’t take up meditation just to keep away the sniffles or get a grip on their emotions. They are also using it to understand their coworkers’ motivations, to cultivate their own “emotional intelligence”—a characteristic that tends to be in short supply among the engineering set.
    “Everybody knows this EI thing is good for their career,” says Search Inside Yourself founder Meng. “And every company knows that if their people have EI, they’re gonna make a shitload of money.”

    Is this type of meditation being offered, with a view to increasing money, missing the point of zen? A sort of GM version of it; all there on paper but missing the heart and soul? Let’s just hope the side effect is actual emotional intelligence and not just “shitloads of money”.


    Source here http://www.wired.com/business/2013/06/meditation-mindfulness-silicon-valley/