Put your mask on first: managing stress through self-care and meditation

As a fitness professional for 17 years, I tell my clients that the most important muscle they can work in their bodies is their brains.  Fortunately our brains are a muscle and can be “exercised” to learn how to handle stress and think more positively.

By Meredith Campbell



In the transition from woman to mother, we go from taking care of only ourselves to a baby controlling most parts of our day.

From the moment we lay eyes on our children, we are overwhelmed with a love that has never been felt before. As years go by, we see our needs being met less and less as our children require more of us. You may find yourself waiting for the day when things with ‘let up’ and feeling like it will never happen.

While it may feel impossible, it is essential to find moments throughout the day for yourself to be the best mom you can be.

Neglecting your self care can have a huge trickle effect in numerous areas of your life. Most of the time we have the best intentions to practice self care, but it comes after everyone else in the family is helped first-leaving you depleted and too tired to do anything for yourself. But just like on an airplane, in an emergency you should put your mask on before helping others and the same goes for your daily self care.

When self care is put off day after day it can lead to intense moments of STRESS. Long term stress can result in many things like weight gain, inflammation in the body, high blood pressure,disease and damaged sleep quality.

So, what can we do to help our body manage stress? Is it possible to feel productive and at ease at the same time?

Here are a few tips for managing your stress level:

  1. It sounds cliche, but QUALITY sleep should be of the utmost importance.

    Yes, this is tricky for new moms. I understand the urge to scroll on your phone after the little one goes to bed, but try and set a timer for time on your phone and an alarm for when you MUST go to bed. You won’t regret it when you get a good night’s sleep the next day

  2. Move your body however your time and space allows it.

    This could be a walk outside with your little one. Doing 3, 10 minute mini workouts throughout the day for bursts of energy. Or decompressing with some yoga before bed. Move however you can to honor your body.

  3. Find time to be involved in a community.

    Whether it’s with new moms in a playgroup, handing the kids over to your husband for girls night or having an online community. Finding a group of people who you can have adult conversations with is important!

  4. Limit stressful thinking and negative thoughts.

    Easier said than done, but prioritizing what I mentioned above plus keeping your thoughts positive as possible through podcasts, audiobooks and meditation, can be life changing.

I’d like to go deeper on how important mindset is. Mindset is how you take your power and control back of your life.

As a fitness professional for 17 years, I tell my clients that the most important muscle they can work in their bodies is their brains.  Fortunately our brains are a muscle and can be “exercised” to learn how to handle stress and think more positively.

Have you ever tried meditation? I understand it’s a wild “woo-woo” concept to sit in silence, especially with our kids running around. However, studies show how powerful it is to meditate in order to mitigate stress and calm inflammation in our body.  When we do this over time, our mindset is at ease and we know how to handle even the most stressful situations.

Not all meditation has to be done sitting on a yoga block with the ocean breeze blowing in our face.

There are many types of meditation, so if sitting still for 3 mins and thinking of nothing (which seems IMPOSSIBLE) isn’t for you, then I recommend trying another form of meditation. Like a walking meditation!

Walking meditation is rhythmic, and since you are moving it can help you focus on other things such as your breath, the way your feet touch the ground, the sounds around you.  While it does take some focus to get into a meditative state, this type of meditation is great for those who cannot sit still.  You might find it helpful to listen to guided meditation on an app.

One thing you could try is having affirmations about yourself, that you record in your own voice on your phone and listen to it over and over (sounds weird but trust me). This helps train your brain and keeps your self esteem up by hearing yourself say wonderful things about you!

Some examples of affirmations you may want to use are:

“I am worthy”

“I know my excellence and I settle for nothing less”

“I am happy, I radiate joy from deep inside my soul”

“I am inspired, I rise into my own strength and creativity”

There are endless affirmations you can use to help you feel empowered, calm, and at ease.

Here is an example of how you can start your day with Meditation by using the famous R.P.E. method (Rise, Pee, Meditate).

This small, stackable habit becomes the most positive change in your life.  Not only does this create a positive routine in your life, it also anchors your new habits with a trigger (an old existing habit), so eventually it becomes second nature!


Wake up and hop out of bed.  This can be a struggle especially when we wake up on a cold dark winter day. However, it’s the most productive thing you can do for your body.  When you rise up and tell yourself “I am up, I am awake, I am alive” you start to take control of your mindset.  Our levels of Cortisol are high in the morning, so by adding stress like “to do lists” or other demands of life, we can start to set our body up for failure. Instead, RISE OUT OF BED and head immediately to the bathroom.


It is usually the first thing you do in the morning, which makes it a consistent habit.  Take the moment to sit up tall and focus. No looking at your phone or scrolling through emails or social media.This is a reason to get your body moving and sitting up straight!


Stay seated right where you are, sit up tall and close your eyes.  Take a deep breath in through your nose, rise your shoulders all the way up to your ears and sigh it out.  Start to breathe in through your nose, filling up your lungs, feeling your chest rise and expand, then exhale slowly until you squeeze every last breath of air out.  Think about inhaling for 4 counts and exhaling for 8.  Even starting your meditation routine of just counting will help set the tone for your body and mind.

Make this last for 3 mins.  If you can consistently do 3 minutes each day, you can then increase the time to 5 minutes.  When you are finished, rise up and smile as a reward to yourself.

When you practice this daily, for the first week you may notice how you feel from the start of your day.  You probably feel ready to take on any task.  When following this for 1 month, you may feel lighter and notice when something stressful does happen, you are able to calm down and breathe before immediately reacting. It gets better and easier with time. I hope you find the time, even just a few minutes to make it a priority in your day because you are WORTH IT!

If you are still struggling with getting settled through meditation on your own, try my favorite app BODi!

There are so many meditations that you can press play on throughout your day.

Try a day pass for $7 here!

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