Meditation for Caregivers: Workshops for Self-Care
Relaxation Response for Caregiver Stress
Most of us spend a good amount of time trying to “think” our way out of stress, but more often than not it is our relationship to our own thoughts that is stressing us out in the first place. Trying “not to think” about our stress can be just as taxing, so how are we supposed to cope with caregiver stress?
The Relaxation Response is a different – yet highly effective – way to reverse the negative effects of stress on your body. Accessed by a very simply meditation technique, the Relaxation Response evokes the physiological exact opposite of the stress response known as “fight or flight.”
It is characterized by decreased metabolism, heart rate, blood pressure, and rate of breathing, as well as a calm mind, increased focus and ability to make decisions, and changes in gene activity opposite of those associated with stress. Thousands of peer-reviewed studies show it can help reduce anxiety, hypertension, mild to moderate depression, and insomnia, and many more stress related complaints.
Cultivating Self-Compassion for Caregivers
As caregivers, we choose to provide whole-hearted care to those who are in need of compassion. However, tending to our own suffering is often placed on the back burner. Even when faced with our own personal loss and hardships, we often turn away from our suffering and “push through” the pain. This can overwhelm our stress response system and in turn contribute to depression, anxiety, stress-related illnesses, and even lead to professional burnout. This workshop will explore how self-compassion—in other words, simply treating ourselves as we would a beloved friend—can help us manage our difficult emotions, reduce our suffering, and exemplify self-care for both clients and colleagues alike.
Mindfulness Meditation for Caregivers
You may be familiar by now with the physical, emotional and psychological stress that are the unfortunate side‐effects of caring for a loved one with dementia. As if the pain of someone dear to you wasn’t difficult enough, your own body
and mind may begin to suffer as you use your own precious resources to care for them. Left unchecked, this constant exposure to the stress response known as fight‐or‐flight can compromise your health.
The good news is that the practice of mindfulness meditation can actually reverse the negative impact of stress on your body, cultivate more compassion for yourself and others, and even shrink your amygdala – the fear center of your brain.
Preliminary research indicates that people who care for family members with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias in the home experienced a decrease in perceived stress and mood disturbance when practicing Mindfulness‐based Stress Reduction (MBSR) (Brown, 2015). Another trial indicates that MBSR was “more effective at improving overall mental health, reducing stress, and decreasing depression” than those who only participated in a caregiver education and support (CCES) intervention (Whitebird, 2012).