National Family Caregiver Month: How caregivers can take awesome mini-breaks

Recognizing CaregiversLet’s honor the 40 million caregivers who live with, care for, and support their aging parents, sick spouses or loved ones with chronic illness or disabilities. Often the care receiver is a spouse or parent who needs a high level of care for more than 30 hours a week. More so, the need for care is often long term and not temporary. Consider, too, that caregivers often have other responsibilities to manage such as jobs and children. The long hours, the patience, the stress. All of this adds up to this fact: family caregivers are our everyday heroes, living quietly among us in families and communities across the country. No doubt, family caregivers need and deserve a break. When you are a caregiver, fully immersed in the whirlwind of juggling all of your duties, that may seem laughable or impossible. But like any healthy habits, it takes a few tries for break-taking to feel natural and sink-into your schedule or rhythm. So, give it a chance, and don’t give up on yourself. After all, you’re not giving up on the loved one you care so dutifully and diligently for. Ta-dah! Here are simple methods for taking a micro-break.

Breeeeaaaattttthhhhheeeee. Close your eyes, inhale and exhale deeply a few times. Try to clear your mind and think of something peaceful and repeat it as a mantra. This mini-meditation can have restorative effects.

Gulp some water. Something about being in an older person’s environment can drag you down and drain your energy. If grabbing caffeine is your go-to, try drinking more water instead to combat feeling tired. Dehydration makes you cranky and achy, and you ain’t got time for that.

Stretch it out. Open up your muscles and let the blood flow and release some of the aches from caregiving.

Download positive, fun music on your smartphone and play it for a fast dance party. Singing is optional.

Find fresh air. Stick your head out the front or back door or sit on the stoop or porch for a few minutes or do a couple laps around the house. Crunch some leaves, watch some birds, throw some sticks. It’ll be invigorating to have a change of scenery.

Journal it out. Dump all your thoughts on paper, without worrying about spelling, grammar, or neatness. It doesn’t matter if the words and phrases don’t make sense. Just write until your brain is free and clear. Ahhh, feels good!

Power work out. Seriously, a quick set of squats, jumping jacks, crunches and pushups will recharge your batteries.

Create a plan to have someone cover for you so you can really do something fun with your friends or something restorative for yourself like a massage or pedicure.

Stick to watching shows on TV that make you laugh or are a total escape from your reality.