Are you one of 65.7 million Americans caring for a loved one, often placing their needs before your own? The National Alliance for Caregiving 2009 report estimates that 40 percent of caregivers are also caring for children, and 64 percent are working either full or part time.
5 Things You Can Do in 5 Minutes
Being a caregiver can take a toll -- both physically and emotionally. Use the ideas below to relieve stress and balance care for yourself with care for your loved one.
Take a 5-minute break and focus on your breathing. Sit up straight, eyes closed, with a hand on your belly. Slowly inhale through your nose, feeling your breath fill up your abdomen and then slowly exhale through your mouth. Repeat. Deep breathing counters the effects of stress by slowing the heart rate and lowering the blood pressure, and has a relaxing effect on the body and mind.
Your family and friends can be an important source of support and it is important to stay connected (which isn’t always easy). Take 5 minutes to call someone who cares and share your experience. Talking with others can reduce stress and increase our sense of well-being.
Laugh a little or A LOT
Not only does it feel good to laugh, but laughter also lowers the stress hormone cortisol and boosts endorphins which help support a positive mood. Take 5 minutes to recall and retell a funny story that makes you laugh, read the comics, or watch a re-run of an old sit-com.
Keep a gratitude journal and make it a practice to write down three things you are thankful for in your life each day. Counting your blessings promotes health, happiness and positive social relationships and can be an important counterbalance to the negative thoughts and worries that are often experienced by caregivers.
Keep it MOVING
All forms of movement and exercise, including walking and yoga can ease depression and anxiety by helping the brain release endorphins and giving the body a chance to practice dealing with and releasing stress. Go for a quick walk around the block; take the stairs up and down a few flights, or do some stretching, like head rolls and shoulder shrugs.