Even a small amount of exercise each week can help you feel better overall and so improve your ability to cope with the ups and downs of caregiving.
Choose an exercise you enjoy. The more you like the activity, the greater the chances are that you'll stick with it.
Make a plan. Choose a realistic time and protect that time just for you.
Start it! Invite a friend to exercise with you. It will provide company and make it easier to be consistent.
Stick with it. With an appealing activity, you'll look forward to it and the rewards will be worth it.
Reducing Stress Through Relaxation
Breathing is intimately connected to relaxation. Think about times when you've felt anxious or upset. One of the first responses of the body is that the breathing becomes rapid. In contrast, when you're feeling calm, breathing is slowed.
In a quiet room, free from distraction and interruption, sit with your feet flat on the floor and hands resting in your lap. Breathe deeply and slowly. Watch your breath going in and going out, and your chest rising and falling.
As you exhale, allow all tension to leave you. Let it go. After a few minutes of watching your breath, notice yourself feeling calm. Sit quietly in this calmness.
Sometimes, it can be helpful to focus on a word that brings you warmth and comfort. Quietly or mentally repeat the word in rhythm with your breathing, letting all other thoughts go. Your mind will drift to other things, but gently bring it back.
When it's time to return to your duties, take this quiet space with you. As you go through your day and may begin to feel overwhelmed with activity, take a deep breath, slowly release it, and mentally go back to this quiet.
Other Relaxation Techniques
Yoga and Tai Chi are great ways to relax the body and release tension. Classes are readily available.
Laughter sometimes gets forgotten in the rush to provide the best care possible. However, 'best care' doesn't always mean 'serious care'. Humor has a very important role in breaking the tension and releasing some of the frustration that comes with the caregiving territory.
Writing can be a tremendous source of release and inspiration. It has the potential of opening up the bottleneck of emotions, allowing for a creative outlet of expression.