Three Mindfulness Exercises to Reduce Caregiver Stress

Caring for an aging loved one will inevitably come with challenges along the way. If you sometimes feel like you are managing one crisis after another, it might be hard to take the time to celebrate and acknowledge the little things that go well and check in with how YOU are doing. Practicing mindfulness exercises is an excellent way to reduce stress and anxiety for both you and your loved one and it only takes a few minutes every day.

senior woman meditating

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness means maintaining our awareness of the present moment while calmly acknowledging our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment.

Mindfulness also involves acceptance, meaning that we notice our thoughts and feelings without judging them as right or wrong. Learning to guide our thoughts towards what we’re experiencing in the moment and away from judgment can help bring peace of mind when tensions or challenges arise.

Practicing mindfulness exercises has been shown to have a significant impact on reducing anxiety, improving quality of life, and easing some of the stress that caregivers experience. Additionally, sharing a mindfulness activity with your loved one is a valuable way to experience the present moment together.

Mindfulness Exercises

  1. Mindfulness Meditation

Do this activity as many times as you like throughout your day—we recommend trying the activity during any stressful moments.

You can do this mindfulness exercise alone or aloud with your loved one. If you are practicing together, keep in mind that there is no wrong way for you or your loved one to participate—it’s all about spending time together and using mindfulness tools to connect with one another.

Instructions:

  • Find a comfortable seat and close your eyes.
  • Begin by taking five deep breaths, breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth. After five breaths, let the breath return to normal.

Then do a body scan, following the steps below. Say them aloud if practicing with your loved one:

  • Let’s notice our 5 senses.
  • What do we currently feel touching our skin?
  • What do we smell?
  • What taste is in our mouths?
  • What sounds do we hear?
  • Let’s open our eyes. Now what do we see around us?
  1. I Wish You Peace: A Simple Loving-Kindness Meditation

In a Loving-Kindness Meditation, we send compassion to ourselves and those around us. It is an excellent addition to traditional mindfulness meditation and encourages positive thoughts and feelings to arise in the body. Traditionally, in Buddhist practice, this would be called a Metta Meditation.

You can practice this meditation alone or together with your loved one.

Instructions:

  • Find a comfortable seat and close your eyes.
  • First, we will send compassion to ourselves.

Recite:
May I be happy. May I be well. May I be free from harm.

  • Then think of someone you love.

Recite:
May you be happy. May you be well. May you be free from harm.

  • Then picture someone neutral, perhaps a neighbor or a local shopkeeper. Someone you see from time to time but don’t have strong feelings about.

Recite:
May you be happy. May you be well. May you be free from harm.

  • Now focus on someone you aren’t particularly fond of.

Recite:
May you be happy. May you be well. May you be free from harm.

  • Lastly, think of everyone in the entire world.

Recite:
May you be happy. May you be well. May you be free from harm.

  1. Gratitude Practice

Taking the time to reflect and celebrate the small things that occur every day is important when there is so much to do. Give yourself a moment to breathe and reflect.

Dedicate a notebook or journal to your gratitude practice. Write down anything you feel grateful for during the day; a funny joke, a memory, or a phrase your loved one happened to mention—it could be anything! For example, “I’m grateful for the sweet smell of the rosemary bush in my garden” or “he kissed my cheek today and we had a warm embrace for several moments.”

When you are having a hard day, look back on your list. Allowing yourself time to acknowledge positive aspects of your day is valuable in providing you with peace of mind.

Seniors At Home offers respite and other supportive services for family caregivers. To learn more, call us today at 844-222-3212 or contact us online.