Due to the needs of the spouse, child or friend they are caring for, caregivers often have little to no time to take care of their own mental health needs. In a recent CHSC Caregiver Group meeting, the discussion focused on the topic of what some of our caregivers have tried - and enjoyed - to reduce their stress levels.
One member expressed that she has enjoyed receiving Reiki. Reiki is a Japanese technique that helps reduce stress by channeling energy through specific hand placement on the body. If one's "life force energy" is low, then we are more likely to get sick or feel stress, and if it is high, we are more capable of being happy and healthy. The word Reiki is made of two Japanese words - "Rei" which means "God's Wisdom or the Higher Power" and "Ki" which is "life force energy".
Some caregiver members they practice mindfulness or use meditation apps on their devices. What is “mindfulness” you ask? I asked the same question! Mindfulness is when an individual focuses his or her attention on the present moment. It also involves acceptance, meaning that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them—without believing, for instance, that there’s a “right” or “wrong” way to think or feel in a given moment. When we practice mindfulness, our thoughts tune into what we’re sensing in the present moment rather than rehashing the past or imagining the future.”
There are many mindfulness and meditation apps available. I have personally used an app called Headspace on my phone, which sends me daily notifications on my phone to remind me to take three minutes out of my day to practice relaxation techniques. If not for the alert, I would likely forget to do it! Here is a link to an article called “Best Meditation Apps of 2018” (www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/top-meditation-iphone-android-apps). Some are free (or start out that way) and some that offer a paid subscription.
There are so many options to choose from to promote relaxation and reduce stress! Whether you choose to meditate, do deep breathing exercises, listen to music, exercise or practice yoga, it is crucial that you take a few moments out of your day to take care of YOU! Members of our caregiver group agree that the support system they have developed as part of this group has also been amazing - so consider joining us!