A caregiver is someone who provides care for another person. “Caregiver well-being” refers to the caregiver’s overall health and wellness, and this is important for many reasons. Our well-being is essential to the strength of our immune systems; and, when we model wellness, it allows our children to learn ways that they can stay well, too.
This pandemic can lead to a heightened state of alertness, which is related to stimulating a part of our nervous system called the “sympathetic nervous system”. This is known as the “fight or flight system,” and it is stimulated when we are stressed.
Its opposite is the “parasympathetic nervous system”, which helps us “rest and digest”. This nervous system is stimulated when we are relaxed and is responsible for allowing our body cells to regenerate.
Both systems are “on” at all times, and they control different organs in our bodies. The purpose of this article is to provide and explain a relaxation strategy, in order to lower our stress and increase our relaxation.
Strategy: Deep Breathing
Technique: Place one hand on your chest, and one hand on your belly. Breathe slow and controlled, so that the hand on your belly rises and lowers with every breath more than the hand on your chest does.
Close your eyes. Inhale slowly, pause, then exhale slowly; this is “one breath cycle”. Try it out, and we will meet back here after 5 breath cycles.
Benefits: The benefits of this technique include increasing oxygen to your muscles and brain, stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system (which calms our bodies), decreasing the number of toxins in the lungs, and improving attention.
Why We Do This: The quality of our breath is directly related to our stress levels. When we are more stressed, our breathing rate becomes faster and more shallow (coming from the chest area). When we are relaxed, we breathe slower and more deeply (coming from the belly area). By purposely slowing down our breathing rate and taking deeper breaths, we consciously begin to relax. Placing our hands on our bellies and chest help us to better understand, see, and feel the quality of our breathing.
For more information on breathing techniques, please consult with your physician or respiratory therapist. For other techniques to increase relaxation, please consult with your physician or therapist.
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