Giving your all to take care of someone you love can be stressful — as depending on a loved one for care. For caregivers and seniors, finding ways to relieve tension and practice self-care is vital in preserving both physical and mental health. One of the best ways to do that is to start a regular practice of meditation and yoga. It can be tricky to know where to start, though. Here are some of the ways these practices can benefit you, and how you can begin transforming your life as a caregiver or senior.
Yoga Can Help Stretch Stress Away
Caregiver stress is very real and can be quite intense. The daily pressure of providing care for a loved one or patient can quickly snowball into burnout. Patients tend to experience a lot of stress too. To combat the effects of stress, try some simple tension-taming practices to calm everyone down. Stretching effectively relieves stress, and can also provide relief from pain and stiffness. Yoga is the perfect way to get a full-body stretch session every single day. To get the most benefits, take each pose slowly and be sure to stay mindful of your breathing.
Poses Can Easily Be Modified
Yoga can be an intimidating practice to start, but it really shouldn’t be! You don’t have to be super flexible or able to do every pose in order to experience the stress-relieving benefits. Any yoga instructor will encourage you to modify poses as you see fit, as long as doing so does not put you at risk for injury. If the person you care for has limited lower-body mobility, there are even modifications to make yoga poses more accessible. These poses can easily be done from a sitting position, so even those in wheelchairs can benefit from the calming effects of a yoga practice.
You Can Access Guides and Tutorials Online
Before you begin modifying poses, it helps to know where to start. Though you don’t need a lot of experience, yoga and meditation do take some practice to be perfect. To get started with meditation, try finding a step-by-step guide that will take you through your first few sessions. Start with a clear intention and be sure to take your time as you get used to the practice. For yoga, sometimes seeing poses performed can be helpful. These are some of the best yoga videos online to help you develop your own practice.
Yoga Can Enhance Meditation Benefits
Meditation can improve your life in so many positive ways. For caregivers, a daily meditation practice can significantly reduce stress, but for seniors, meditation can also help relieve tension and even prevent further health issues. Meditation has been shown to reduce feelings of pain and boost immune system response. When you practice yoga before your meditation, the benefits get even better. A few gentle poses can be enough to relax your body and get into the right mindset to reap all of the positive effects of meditation.
Setting Up a Dedicated Space is Easy
Another thing most yoga and meditation teachers will tell you is that coming to the studio is usually the hardest part. Making time in your day for a class can be impossible when you are a caregiver, and limited mobility can make getting to classes a challenge for patients as well. But that doesn’t mean you should give up your practice. With minimal supplies — and effort — you can easily set up a yoga/meditation space at home. Many people find Feng Shui to be helpful when selecting their space, but you should primarily focus on finding a quiet space in your (or your senior loved one’s) home. Pick up a yoga mat and be sure to incorporate a speaker so you can use calming music to keep yourself calm.
Meditation and yoga can significantly enhance your body, as well as your mind—but only if you practice on a regular basis. Caregivers and seniors looking for stress relief should consider adding a practice to their daily routine. Doing so could keep you from burning out, and bring more peace to your life in the process.
Harry Cline is the creator of NewCaregiver.org and author of the upcoming book, The A-Z Home Care Handbook: Health Management How-Tos for Senior Caregivers. As a retired nursing home administrator, father of three, and caregiver to his ninety-year-old uncle, Harry knows how challenging and rewarding caregiving can be. He also understands that caregiving is often overwhelming for those just starting out. He created his website and is writing his new book to offer new caregivers everywhere help and support.