Self-Care for Caregivers

Self-Care for Caregivers:
How Yoga and Meditation Can Help
by Harry Cline of newcaregiver.org

Caregiving can be an emotionally and physically exhausting task. That’s why it’s so important that caregivers have strategies to manage physical and mental stress so they can provide quality, compassionate care to their loved one.

Yoga and meditation are an excellent option for caregivers. Yoga and meditation reduce stress and provide physical activity so caregivers stay healthy and have the mental energy to care for an aging loved one.

Yoga and meditation are also approachable practices that anyone can partake in. No matter your starting point, yoga and meditation can meet you there. Poses can be adapted, flows slowed down, and sessions shortened without losing the practice’s powerful benefits.

If you’re interested in adding yoga and meditation to your self-care routine as a caregiver, here’s what you need to know.

Yoga Classes for Beginners

Learning yoga through classes is the best move for beginners. When you learn from a certified yoga teacher, you learn the best way to adapt moves to your ability level and discover what proper form feels like, so you don’t end up injured. Yoga classes are also a wonderful way to build community, which is important for caregivers and seniors who are prone to isolation.

The best classes for beginning yogis move at a slow pace so there’s plenty of time to settle into each pose and learn which adaptations work best. These classes at Revolution Community Yoga are ideal for beginners:

  • Slow Flow
  • Gentle Yoga
  • Yin Yoga
  • Restorative Yoga
  • Hatha Yoga

If you need a lot of hands-on assistance or feel nervous about practicing in a group setting, consider private yoga instruction for a one-on-one introduction to yoga and meditation. Private instruction is also a great choice if you want your senior loved one to participate in yoga and meditation with you. These uplifting practices are just as beneficial to the person receiving care as they are to the one providing it.

Is cost a concern? Revolution Community Yoga offers discounted rates for seniors. Also, some Medicare Advantage plans also include fitness benefits that can be applied to yoga classes. Unfortunately, Original Medicare doesn’t include fitness coverage. If you’re interested in switching to a plan with fitness benefits, you can learn with this resource.

Practicing Yoga at Home

Once you’ve established a strong foundation through yoga classes, start practicing at home so yoga and meditation become part of your daily life. There are tons of great online resources for home practice, like these apps and websites:

The hardest part of home practice isn’t accessing instruction, it’s making yoga and meditation a habit. Set a daily time to commit to practice and create a space in your home that’s dedicated to yoga and meditation. If you’re short on space, do some decluttering or move extra stuff to storage. The cost of a storage unit in Acton is only $65.00 a month, not too much if you’re investing in your health.

Other Self-Care Strategies for Caregivers

Yoga and meditation are one part of a caregiver’s self-care strategy, but it’s not the only way to practice self-care. Try these additional strategies to improve your well-being and build resilience to stress during this challenging phase of life:

  • Gratitude journaling
  • Maintaining a healthy diet and sleep routine
  • Spending time with friends and family other than the care patient
  • Accepting help from respite care, adult day services, and other family members
  • Participating in support groups for caregivers

Sometimes our path to the mat emerges late in life. Even if you’ve never taken a Warrior stance or enjoyed the stillness of meditation, you can start now and reap the benefits of yoga and meditation. While these practices may not eliminate the challenges of caregiving, they can make each day a little bit easier on you and your loved one.

Image via Unsplash

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