Caregivers Should Take Care of Themselves Too
Family and Friends Caring for Loved Ones Can Manage Their Caregiving Stress, One Breath at a Time
Even if you’re not a caretaker, as most of my clients, are, you’re like most Americans. According to the American Psychological Association’s annual "Stress in America,"™ survey/report many Americans:
- Realize mismanaging stress can harm physical and/or emotional health,
- Are under more stress than is healthy, according to their own view, and
- Struggle to achieve their personal stress-management goals.
- more likely to report stress (and at higher levels) than non-caregivers,
- more likely to rate their health as fair or poor,
- more likely to have a chronic illness,
- more likely to indicate their own personal health concerns as a significant source of stress, and
- less likely to practice healthy behaviors, such as managing stress and/or getting enough sleep
In its latest (2013) study, the APA discerned that U.S. adults with a chronic illness (when compared to Americans overall and to those without a chronic illness) report a lack of support for stress and behavior management.
While most Americans are struggling with stress, the thought of managing it is causing more stress! But, here’s an easy technique to fight stress.
1. Pay attention to your breathing. Notice the air going in and out. Do this at least once but better to repeat three times before resuming daily life.
2. The HeartMath® Solution for Relieving Worry, Fatigue, and Tension by Doc Childre and Deborah Rozman offers another approach to focusing on breathing.
Heart Focus: Focus on how your breath envelopes your heart to help synchronize your respiration and heart rhythms. Breathe slowly and gently in through your heart (to a count of five or six) and slowly and easily out through your heart (to a count of five or six).
Heart Feeling: While focusing on your heart and breathing, recall a positive experience: appreciation for a special person or a pet, a place you enjoy, or a fun activity. Sometimes you’ll be stumped, but aim for appreciation or care.
Not only do your heart rhythm patterns shift, research shows, but others’ patterns may synchronize, too.
Now, make a point to make these techniques a habit. What happens that can prompt you to remember? The phone? Traffic? A stoplight? Just pause for one or two breaths and voila, you’re relieving stress.
The Creative Energy Officer of ASK ME House LLC, Mary Elaine Kiener, RN, PhD, delights in helping midlife caregivers care for themselves as well as they care for others. She’s offering a free introductory 7-part e-course entitled Finding Centerthrough her website: www.askmehouse.com.