Easy Yoga for Stress Relief
Caregiving and stress are the same thing, right? Caregiving takes so much out of you. It is ever present, whether you are living at home with your ill loved-one, or living far away and can only call to check in. The cloud of stress and worry follow you around. There were times when I could get away, either to the beach or even during a trip to the grocery store on my own, but I couldn't relax. I knew that caregiving would be waiting for me when I returned home. It affected my work ability, my desire to exercise, my energy level in general. I felt totally sucked dry.
The only thing that truly saved me during this time was yoga. Yoga was something I tried once in college, but didn't totally get. I felt uncomfortable and awkward. One night when I was living at home with my sick mother and my dad, I for some reason ended up by myself. This was rare! I didn't know what to do with myself, so I asked my friend Morgan for advice. I told her I was so wound up and couldn't relax to enjoy my night off. She told me to go to yoga. So, I decided to try it again.
It was painful. I felt like I was dying. The room was hot. My pants were too tight. Everyone was better than me. These were the thoughts that ran through my head the entire class! Then, at the end, as I was laying down on my back, getting lightly misted with lavender spray, I realized I spent the class thinking about how I felt. I thought about how hard yoga was. I wasn't thinking about my mom, her illness, or my stress! I also felt very sore, which was a good thing since I didn't have time to exercise. It was a risk, and I'm so glad I took it. I ended up making time for more yoga, going once or twice a week when I could. I started to feel more relaxed, more open, and healthier. It gave me a bit of control over my crazy caregiving life.
I was TRULY a beginner. I went to a studio which scared me, but the teacher was very kind gentle, always offering alternatives to hard poses. This does not have to be your path. There are many online yoga practices that can easily be done every day, even if you are in the most stressful caregiving situation. Find five minutes, and you can give your mind a break. You can regain a bit of calm by taking a few deep breaths.
So, check out a few of my favorite online, quick practices that anyone can do! You don't have to have any background in order to understand these simple poses, and no one but your dog will be watching you. Trust me - they help!! But you don't have to, you can trust Harvard Medical School. (See infographic above!) Enjoy these mindful practices. Be kind to yourself. Make sure you are doing something small every day to take care of the caregiver!