While caregiving has its rewards and special moments, it can also be a source of stress and anxiety. The physical demands, emotional downturns, and impact on one’s personal life from caregiving can become overwhelming.
Caregivers need to be able to reach into their mental health toolbox and choose meditation as a way to cope.
Meditation means putting aside time to be alone, away from the hustle and bustle of your daily responsibilities. It is spending a few moments in quiet thought while positioned comfortably. It is ridding one’s mind of all worries and then focusing oneself on the present. Think of it as a way to reset, or temporarily break away from challenging tasks.
But sadly, for most caregivers, meditation is at the bottom of their to-do list, if included at all.
Here are some reasons why caregivers keep putting this stress reliever off, and why they really shouldn't:
1. “I don’t have time.”
Caregivers often say they don’t even have enough time to eat or socialize. How can they possibly spare some for meditation? We get it. That’s a great question!
You don't need hours to meditate. In fact, you can do meditation for as little as two minutes. If you can manage five to ten minutes per session, that’s even better!
For those wondering if just a few minutes of calm spent meditating actually works—yes, it definitely does!
Think of it as setting your timer back to zero before returning to your busy schedule, rather than carrying over your present burdens and adding to your challenges the next day.
Meditation is a process of unloading worrisome thoughts so that you can focus again, and helps you think positively and remind yourself what a beautiful person you are. Is that worth spending five minutes each day? The answer should be a definite “yes!”
2. “I don’t have a quiet place.”
If you are really serious about meditation, you’ll be able to find a quiet spot to sit comfortably. It doesn’t have to be a special place. It can be the bathroom, your car, somewhere outside, or simply your bed. It can be any place you can spend some uninterrupted time alone.
3. “I don’t know how.”
The good thing about meditation as a coping strategy is that you don’t need special training to do it.
One of the simplest ways to meditate is to close your eyes and be mindful of your breathing, while telling yourself that you feel relaxed in that moment. Add to the experience by playing some relaxing music and lighting scented candles. Easy, right?
You can also do visualization. Simply put, visualization is a daydream with the eyes closed. Think happy thoughts, such as being in a wonderful place, and savor the moment.
If your mind begins to wander or have nagging thoughts of all the day’s responsibilities, shoo the negative thoughts away and redirect yourself back to your peaceful imagery.
4. “I’d rather sleep.”
Adequate sleep is a precious thing. No one can contest that. But five minutes a day will hardly rob you of precious sleep.
In fact, having anxious thoughts throughout the day (that persist as you start to doze) leaves your brain running on autopilot, trying to solve problems all night. No wonder you wake up feeling like you haven’t slept at all!
Meditation before sleep gives your brain a process for shutting down to rest, so that you can start the next day refreshed and well-rested.
5. “I’ve tried it, but it doesn’t seem to work.”
First of all, it isn’t wise to put off meditation for this reason, because practice makes perfect! Second, you might have given up too soon without giving meditation a chance to benefit you. Do these simple checks before coming to this conclusion:
How long do you usually meditate each day?
Do you do it for at least two full minutes, uninterrupted?
Were you really able to clear your thoughts of the negative stuff before visualizing or doing mindfulness?
Do you do it regularly?
How long have you been practicing meditation?
Have you been conscious to proper technique while meditating?
Give yourself ample time and lots of practice, and soon you'll reap the benefits this practice promises.
Meditation is highly recommended for caregivers as a way to ease their everyday stress. If you are a caregiver and aren’t currently experiencing the benefits of meditation, then it is high time you do. Not only will this technique help you as a person, but it will also improve your working relationship with your patients and colleagues.
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