Self Care: Exercise and Rest

A Morning Walk Around Lake Merritt

Energy work is easier for me when my physical body is in balance: flexible, strong and energized. Exercise is a crucial factor in bringing my body to this balance, and key to my self care routine.

At this point in my life exercise is even more important to my wellness than meditation. There is a stereotype that healers don’t care about the physical world including their body, but that is not the case for me and many of my healer colleagues. Almost all my Clarity Breathwork and Healing Touch colleagues are very conscious of diet, exercise and taking care of themselves physically.

By writing about how important exercise is in my healing practice, I hope you might realize how beneficial exercise may be for you energetically, whether you have a healing practice or not.

Since half of my healing practice is massage I find my muscles feel better if I work out at least three times a week. My workout generally consists of at least 20 minutes of sweaty aerobics followed by stretching. I used to take yoga, but a morning class of downward dogs and arm balancing poses was just too much for my shoulders before a long day of massage. For a long time, Bikram yoga worked well for me because it worked up a good sweat, and there aren’t any arm balancing poses in the sequence.

I’m now in an early morning gym phase, where I can choose what exercise to do based on how my body feels that day. The Elliptical Fitness Cross-trainer is my current favorite. After 20 minutes my whole body feels warmed up and so much looser. Sometimes I swim with fins, using just my legs. I don’t need to work out my arms. I picked my current gym because of the excellent hot tub and sauna and I use both after every work out. I consider the hot tub and sauna an integral part of my exercise routine.

I have been doing essentially the same job for the last 15 years and periodically I just get restless and need a change of workout routine. So, I switch my workouts about every 6 months or so when my exercise feels dull. As I mentioned, I went through a Bikram Yoga period, changed my gym several times, walked around Lake Merritt for a few months, even bought a hula hoop.

Interestingly, I thought I would need less exercise when I started doing more healings and less massages in my practice, but I found the opposite is true. Exercise really clears my head, relaxes me and opens my chakras. I feel I need to exercise now more than ever. I realize now that the more healing work I do, the more I need the physical exercise.

In addition to exercise, getting a consistent amount of rest is really important to my wellness. I personally need to get at least 7 hours of sleep each night.

Janet Mentgen, the founder of Healing Touch, was a very busy and productive woman who taught Healing Touch all over the world. She found her physical body required 8 hours of horizontal rest on a daily basis. She did not have to be asleep during these 8 hours, but lying down, which included healing sessions since Healing Touch is frequently done on a massage table. She was very disciplined about getting her horizontal rest and if she missed a few hours one day she made them up the next.

To find out more about Janet Mentgen’s self care advice check out an excerpt from Janet’s keynote address given at the Australian Holistic Nursing Conference in 1995 Path of Healership: The Importance of Self Care for the Healer. Click here and look under “General” to download the pdf. In it you will find also find Janet Mentgen’s 7 Principles of Self Care for Healers.

Janet’s quote below sums up the importance of self care for me:

“We cannot be a spark in someone else’s life if our spark has gone out”
Janet Mentgen RN, BSN, CHTP/I, HNC, Healing Touch Founder

2 Replies to “Self Care: Exercise and Rest”

  1. My routines are very similar to you. I do a little yoga 7 days a week and a short run including a hill 3 days a week. I find I need 8 hours of rest and will take a nap or rest outside if I miss some one night.

    Thanks for encouraging people to take care of themselves. It does take discipline but can take less time than many people believe. It improves ones energy which makes all the other hours better and more productive or harmonious.

  2. Karen,
    Thanks so much for your comment, You are a perfect example of how productive you can be when you are in balance. You have a family and a very creative, yet demanding job. AND you still manage to make a little art!

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