Guest article by Barbra Cohn
Caregiving is one of the hardest things anyone will do in a lifetime.
Caregivers typically feel stressed, tired, and worried. When you spend hours each day feeding, dressing, and toileting a loved one, you have little time to take care of your own needs. You might feel resentful, lonely, unhappy, depressed . . . and guilty. If you have to get up during the night to help your care partner with toileting, wandering, or anxiety, you might not have the energy to get through the day without the aid of too many cups of coffee.
Here are 5 ways to make caregiving a little easier.
1. Breathe deeply.
Most of us breathe shallow breaths that restrict oxygen flow to the lungs and throughout the body, resulting in fatigue and depletion of our vital energy. Breathing is not only free, but it will set you free. Try this simple exercise: Sit on a chair with your back straight and focus on your breath. Take a deep breath, and then let it go, exhaling all the stale air out of your lungs. Continue for several minutes. Notice any sensations in your body. Eventually your body and thoughts will settle down, and you’ll emerge feeling more relaxed. Try to do this at least five minutes on a regular basis.
2. Find something to laugh about every day.
When your care partner does or says something outrageous, instead of getting upset or angry turn it around and laugh with him/her (not at her). It will diffuse the situation and bring the two of you emotionally closer. You can always watch short YouTube videos that will elicit a smile, or better yet, a belly laugh.
3. Keep a journal. Writing down your fears and frustrations is a wonderful way to express your thoughts quickly without having to leave the comfort of your home. Don’t worry about spelling or grammar. Just get the words down quickly. You’ll be surprised by how much better you feel afterwards.
4. Move! Exercise is vital to staying healthy and strong. The days you feel stuck or stiff are the days it’s most important to put on your walking shoes, sunglasses, and hat, and go for a walk.
5. Take a bath. Hydrotherapy has been used for thousands of years as a healing modality throughout the world to relieve stress, release aches and stiffness, and refresh the mind and emotions. For an added benefit, add Epsom salts and/or essential oil.
Barbra Cohn is the author of Calmer Waters, released in June 2016. While caring for her husband, Morris, she researched and found ways to reduce stress, find joy, and inner peace. Although, Morris passed away from younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease at age 69, she shares what she learned in this book. Barbra has been a writer for 35 years and has written hundreds of health and travel articles for various publications. She lives in Boulder, Colorado.