Family caregivers have a rewarding but demanding role. And this role is one 43.5 million family members take on in a typical year. Experts say they provide $470 billion a year in unpaid caregiving support.
Being in charge of the care of a loved one is a big responsibility. Juggling caregiving tasks and obligations can lead to constant worry and stress. It also means caregivers rarely take any time out to care for themselves. It’s a combination that can take a toll on the mind, the body, and the spirit.
Finding healthy ways to manage stress when you are a caregiver is important for preventing burnout. It may also help you avoid developing unhealthy habits to cope with stress, such as drinking too much alcohol or smoking.
Fortunately, there are productive ways to prevent caregiver stress. Meditation is one of them.
What is Meditation?
Meditation is a mind-body exercise that leads to an increased sense of peace and calm. The balance gained from meditation can help caregivers better cope with life’s daily stressors.
If you aren’t familiar with meditation, it’s an activity that relies on four core elements:
- Location: A quiet, peaceful spot in which to meditate with no distractions. It can be indoors or outdoors—wherever you feel comfortable and relaxed.
- Position: Contrary to what you may have seen on television, meditation doesn’t require you to sit in an uncomfortable position with your legs crossed. You can meditate while sitting, standing, or even walking.
- Focal point: It also helps to have something to focus on while you meditate. Some people focus on a small token or a point on the horizon. But it can also be a word you silently repeat over and over to yourself.
- Open heart and mind: Having an open heart and mind makes meditation easier and more meaningful. Letting go of grievances and welcoming positive thoughts may allow a caregiver to find peace.
Caregiver Meditation Basics
If you’ve never tried meditation before, the good news is that it can be practiced anywhere your caregiving duties take you. Here’s how to get started:
- Block out 15 distraction-free minutes in your day
- Find a quiet, comfortable spot
- Breathe naturally without trying to control your breath
- Focus on how your body (chest, shoulders, and stomach) moves with every breath
- Inhale, exhale, and repeat
While meditation is an easy activity to get started with, it is a process. Many people are only able to meditate for a few minutes as they begin learning how to mediate, and that is okay. The goal should be to work up to 15 minutes a day.
At Five Star Senior Living, we know caregivers are always looking for new ways to support the needs of their senior loved one and better manage their caregiver role. That’s why we encourage you to bookmark our blog and stop back often. We routinely share the latest news and research on caregiving, senior care, and aging.