If you’re a caregiver, you’ve probably had your share of bad days along with the good ones. And you likely know that sometimes, it’s easy for your mood to rub off on your loved one. The good news is that there are lots of in-home stress relief techniques that you can rely on for help. These five tips can help dissipate caregiver stress:
1. Equalized Breathing
Equalized breathing requires only that you inhale for four seconds and then exhale for four seconds. While you’re breathing, count to four in your head. A variation of this technique is to inhale deeply through your nose, expanding your stomach to the count of four, holding your breath for four seconds, and then exhaling slowly to the count of four.
The beauty of meditation is that you can practice it anywhere without calling attention to yourself — as an in-home stress relief technique, standing in line, sitting on the subway, or wherever you happen to be. If you’re just learning to meditate, try guided meditation, which you can easily access online.
3. Practice Gratitude
According to the Stress Institute of Atlanta, “It is physiologically impossible to be grateful and experience stress at the same time.” Achieving an “attitude of gratitude,” then, is another fantastic way to let go of stress. Start small by keeping a gratitude journal. Before you get out of bed each morning, record one thing that you’re grateful for. The result may be “higher levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, optimism, and energy.”
4. Music as Stress Reduction
Music is a powerful medium for evoking emotions — from nostalgia, to sadness, to peace and even elation. Pay attention to your feelings as you listen to some oldies from your teenage years, then switch to some of today’s most popular tunes. Try following that up with a new-age instrumental and then a classical piece. Some hospitals use this technique with surgical patients by giving them headsets before and after surgery to reduce anxiety. Just think what it can do for caregiver stress.
5. Stress-Reducing Stretching
The child’s pose, a yoga stretch, can lower your blood pressure, calm nerves, and release neck, back, and shoulder tension, according to Prevention. This simple pose feels terrific — and when you do it, you can almost feel the tension drain from your body. Watch a video with several variations of the stretch.
Sometimes the best first step in reducing stress is confronting some of your more tangible fears. If stress about leaving your loved one alone weighs on your mind, you might think about investing in a medical alert system that will help to keep her safe when you’re away.
Above all, stress relief starts with a routine. You can incorporate any of these in-home stress relief techniques into your daily life — just be sure to do them consistently. You’ll find yourself thinking more clearly, breathing more easily, and sleeping more soundly in no time at all.