PTC Blog

We all know the crazy state of the nation right now. There is a lot of uncertainty, panic, worry and fear circulating in our society. Individually, we are all taking steps to keep ourselves and others healthy physically, flatten the curve and resume some kind of new normal eventually. My question is… Are we taking care of ourselves mentally? Some of us have found extra time on our hands and are looking for things to keep us busy, happy and healthy. Some of us are still working but may have added stress and need a way to cope. There is a practice that can reduce stress, increase happiness, alleviate fear/worry and allow you to live comfortably in the moment. It is Meditation.

You’ve heard of meditation before. Sit still, don’t think, just be and everything will be hunky-dory. In essence, that is all it is. Ultimately, it is so much more than that. Meditation can change your current state to be more relaxed and calm in that very moment. With practice, it can also help you change your baseline so you can function in the world as a calm, assertive and collected human.

How does sitting still and doing nothing accomplish mental clarity?

How do you just sit still and do nothing?

External information floods our brains and yields internal struggles and distractions. Our attention is driven by this information. Meditation is an exercise for the mind. Concentration is our mental muscle that can be strengthened by realizing we can choose what we pay attention to. During meditation, we choose to pay attention to a calm and relaxed state. We can begin to change our internal circumstances to drown outside distractions and become more present in the here and now with practice.

Sounds daunting? It isn’t! Meditation is not rigid with rules and specifics. It is extremely simple and only as hard as you make it. Meditation is really the idea of sitting, doing nothing, and being ok with that.

Set 5-10 minutes aside during your day and try this…

1.)Find a comfortable place you can sit. It does not matter if you are in a chair or on the ground as long as you are comfortable. You can even lie down if you want but this tends to make people very relaxed. You are not meditating if you are asleep.

2.)Your eyes can be closed or open if you prefer, just let them relax on the ground in front of you.

3.) Breathe. Breathing deeply starts to bring you into relaxation. Inhale to lengthen your spine and exhale to release tension. With every exhale, soften your body. Relax your jaw and shoulders.

4.) It is helpful to find something to concentrate on to keep you in the moment. Jeff Warren calls it “home base”. Some things to pay attention to…
Breathing: How the inhale feels in your nose or throat
Sound: Hum of the fridge
Feeling: Warmness of your hands
Spot on the body: The point between your eyes, back of your heart, or your belly.

5.) Your mind will wander and this is perfectly fine. Let the thoughts come but then try to come back to your breathing, sound or feeling you are concentrating on. Don’t be upset if you cannot “quiet your mind”. Just be ok with starting over again without frustration.
The more you are able to come back to “home base”, the stronger your concentration muscle gets. This will help us come back from the outside distractions in the world and meditation will come full circle.

Extra Tips

  •  Consider guided mediation through an app. “Calm” or “Headspace” are two great resources and have 30 day introductions to help you learn more and practice appropriately
  • Start with 5-10 minutes and build up from there. Meditation is a practice. It gets easier as you go.
  • Mornings are a great time to practice to set the mood for the day but use whatever time you have
  • Stay consistent and do not beat yourself up about being perfect. It is not about perfection. Just show up and try. Even if you are unable to harness your concentration that day, do not give up. Try again tomorrow

Happy Meditation! Be good to yourself and others!

Andover Physical Therapy

April 15th, 2020

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Raise your hand if you have stress in your life! If your hand didn’t go up, you are lying! In all seriousness, everyone has stress to a certain degree but it is really how we deal with stress that makes the biggest difference.

Recently the staff at Physical Therapy Consultants had a presentation from Darcy Rylander (Allina Community Engagement Team) regarding techniques to manage stress in the workplace or at home. One of the reminders we received was that stress is not always bad. Sometimes stress can help us reach deadlines, or work harder towards a goal. Other times, stress creates havoc on our work life and personal life but it doesn’t have to!

Here are a couple techniques you can try while at work (or home for that matter) to manage stress.

1. Pursed lip breathing: inhale through your nose and exhale through puckered or pursed lips. This type of breathing technique helps to decrease your breathing rate, as well as promote relaxation for the entire body. Try 5-10 repetitions with your eyes open or closed.

2. Belly or Diaphragmatic breathing: Put one hand over your belly and the other hand over your chest. Take a deep breath so that your hand on your belly moves with the inhale to a count of 4. Slowly exhale and feel your hands move with the breath you take. Try 5-10 repetitions.

3. Square breathing: slowly exhale getting all the oxygen out of your lungs. Inhale slowly for a count of 4 and then hold your breath for a count of 4. Slowly exhale for a count of 4 and hold your breath for a count of 4. Repeat this cycle 5 to 10 times.

Remember to sit upright during these breathing techniques. Also be aware that not all techniques will work for you. Choose the ones that you respond well too and know that sometimes the technique you choose will be dependent on the situation you are in.

Stress can be very difficult at times but it is not always a bad thing to experience stress especially when you have good tools to manage it. Your physical therapist can help you with stress management. To find a therapist near you visit our website at or call 1-888-THERAPY.

Jackie Giese, LPTA
Physical Therapist Assistant
Physical Therapy Consultants, Inc.

September 14th, 2018

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