Practice Effective Breathing to Counteract Caregiver Stress
There’s no doubt that caregiving is a stressful — and often all-encompassing — responsibility. Practicing effective breathing techniques throughout your day can be a game changer in how you deal with that overwhelming stress. Yes, it’s just breathing, but it can have a myriad of benefits, including lowering your heart rate and blood pressure.
There are a number of breathing, visualization and meditation exercises out there, and finding the one that works best for you is essential to establishing a habit. In addition to helping you relax, it also must resonate with you and fit your lifestyle. Here are a few types to get you started on your journey of exploring how effective breathing can benefit you:
- Mindful breathing combines the power of remaining present (i.e., focusing on the here-and-now) with full, cleansing breaths. It’s the cornerstone of many other relaxation practices, so it’s a great first step in exploring meditation.
- Body scan meditation and progressive muscle relaxation put your body at the forefront of your breathing practice, since many of us carry stress in our bodies in addition to our minds. You focus on the sensations you feel throughout your body and, in the case of PMR, tense and relax particular muscle groups.
- Visualization uses guided imagery to create an oasis of sorts in your mind that engages all of your senses, giving you a sanctuary of calm and peace that’s accessible just by closing your eyes.
- Yoga and Tai Chi combine breath work with intentional movement or poses to connect your body, mind and energy.
Consistency is the key to seeing results, so do whatever you can to incorporate the exercise of your choice into your daily routine:
- Morning breathing can help brighten your mind and wake up your body for the day ahead.
- Midday breathing can reenergize you during your afternoon slump.
- Nightly breathing can relax your body and prepare you for a restful sleep.
Remember, always consult your doctor before jumping into new wellness activities. Based on your current health, he or she may have recommendations for how you can best meet your goals.