Stress and burnout are unpleasant to deal with as caregivers, but it’s common knowledge that they come with the job. Most self-help advice on Google discusses the benefits of meditation. But in real life, practically speaking, does it really work? Will it deliver as promised?
For instance, when you work as a caregiver, how do you find an extra ten minutes to spare for meditation when you don’t even have time for a toilet break?
And can you just exchange a hostile mood for a calm one after a few minutes of relaxation?
Do you have a quiet and comfortable place to sit undisturbed?
Wouldn’t you rather let your thoughts wander to your happy place or use those extra minutes to catch up on much-needed sleep?
For those who have been caregiving for some time and may have regarded meditation as an unrealistic bit of heaven for a special few, it’s hard to accept that it really can do wonders for your health.
But to those who believe in its benefits and set aside regular time to reflect quietly, they can agree with the scholarly articles that provide evidence of the positive effects of meditation.
If you still doubt whether meditation can truly benefit you, the most important thing to do is give it a chance! And do it consistently.
Here’s a simple five-step procedure to follow for meditation:
Drop whatever you’re doing and go to a quiet place. You may need to tell people to not disturb you for a few minutes.
Alternatively, you can meditate before bed to relieve stress and promote sound sleep. Or, try it first thing in the morning to energize you and prepare yourself for another hectic day. For this step, you need to close your eyes.
Do deep breathing exercises. Consciously breathe in, letting your lungs fill with air, then slowly breathe out through pursed lips, much like slowly blowing out a candle. Focused breathing can improve your body’s oxygen levels—exactly what you need to start fighting off stress.
This step is crucial as it calibrates your mind and calms nerves. It is sometimes called mindfulness because it helps you focus on your inner self and temporarily forget the outside world.
For this step, try to notice your breathing and your physical self. Are you seated comfortably? How does the couch feel to the touch? Are your muscles tense? How are you feeling?
Imagine a happy place and notice all the wonderful details, such as how your toes dig into the sand and how the breeze smells and feels on your skin (if you imagine a beach). This is also called imagery.
You can also make affirmations, or conscious and powerful thoughts about yourself and what you want. For example, you might say to yourself, "I am strong. I am confident. I am loved. I will have the support that I need." Then, you consciously feel better and recharged before you end your reflection.
Follow up with a rewarding activity, such as a warm shower, a nice snack, or a spin around the room to your favorite music. You may want a warm hug from your spouse, friend, or child.
After doing the above, you will again be ready to reconnect with your patients and work as a team during your next shift. The effects of meditation may not be obvious right away, but after some time, you’ll notice you have more patience and compassion towards your patients and are a happier person in general. Isn’t meditation worth a try, then? Challenge yourself to give it a shot!
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