Daily life is replete with tasks and demands that perpetuate stress. For individuals who provide care and support for an elderly loved one, daily stress takes on a whole new meaning. The most important aspect for caregivers who want to maintain a healthy lifestyle and a positive attitude is the ability to routinely care for your body’s physical and mental needs.
A great way to carve out time for self-care, which is a key for healthy living, is through exercise. Stress relief exercises for caregivers work to improve overall physical well-being, decrease levels of stress and anxiety, and increase quality of time spent with your loved one. Here are 3 easy exercises to relieve stress!
1. Aerobic Exercise
One of the most effective methods to combat stress is to raise your body’s endorphin levels. Endorphins are created via a process between the central nervous system and the pituitary glands. These chemicals, also known as neurotransmitters, help to inhibit transmission of pain signals and, for certain individuals, create a sense of euphoria. To naturally increase the release of endorphins, all you need to do is exercise!
Aerobic exercise is not only great at increasing endorphin levels, but it is also incredibly accessible. This type of exercise includes spin class and bike riding, running, swimming, dancing, cross-country skiing, and kickboxing. For beginners, a less intensive workout may be necessary such as step aerobics or speed walking.
Aerobic exercise also offers scheduling flexibility, which is essential for caregivers whose time may be unpredictable. Aerobics can be done in the comfort of your own home or in a class setting.
2. Restorative Yoga
While working up a sweat releases endorphins and is a great tool to help reduce stress, intensive physical exercise should also be paired with structured time for relaxation and regeneration.
Restorative yoga focuses on centering breath and body in a relaxing and calming manner thereby aligning the mind and physical awareness. Through gentle movements and stillness over extended periods of time, this type of yoga offers individuals who suffer from a high level of stress a designated time for themselves.
3. Getting Outside
Stress and fatigue have many causal roots, yet one of the most prominent instigators is excessive use of technological devices such as mobile phones, computers, and televisions. Weariness of body and mind can also occur overtime when sequestered inside a home or office. When coupled, as these two aspects generally are, the outcome can be highly detrimental. For caregivers, these factors can be dangerous and often lead to increased anxiety and depression.
It is important to schedule time each day for outdoor activities. Leave the phone at home! Disconnect from technology for at least 30 minutes to an hour, if possible.
Outdoor time can involve a leisurely walk, ditching the treadmill for a run around the neighborhood, riding your bike, or hiking. For caregivers who need to stay close to home, household chores such as gardening, cleaning the gutters, walking the dog, and raking can also be viable stress-reducing activities. Take a book or magazine outside in the sun or tend to paperwork or work on the back porch or at the park. Any excuse will do!
Not only does outdoor activity naturally provide time for yourself, but it also helps your body become accustomed to physically unwinding while performing routine tasks. This aspect of multi-tasking is highly beneficial for caregivers whose lives are overwhelmed with extensive to-do lists and little time to accomplish them.
We understand how difficult caregiving can be. To help you manage your stress levels and stay calm while fulfilling your responsibilities as a caregiver, refer to our Caregiver Stress Fact Sheet.