Managing Caregiver Stress with Meditation

Studies have shown that mindful meditation helps the brain to have better control over processing pain and emotion, more emotional stability and sleep quality, and that it’s linked with decreased levels of the stress hormone cortisol. It’s also linked to an increase in more compassionate behavior.

Caregivers who want to try starting their own meditation practice can work their way through learning the three phases.

Phase One

Get your own attention by taking some deep breaths. The 4-7-8 breathing technique is one of the easiest to learn. Inhale for a count of four. Hold for a count of seven. Then exhale for a count of eight.

You just fall into the rhythm of your breath in and out through your mouth and become aware of how much deeper your presence is. Four cycles of 478 breathing are just 57 seconds, and that will change your life.

Phase Two

The second phase of meditation is reclaiming your attention and bringing it back when it strays.

There’s a fallacy that meditation is the absence of thought. It’s actually not that at all. It’s the willingness to sit in a moment, watch your attention stay, and then pull it back to a mantra, a visualization, or your breath. Think of it like going to the gym, but the muscle you are strengthening is your attention.

Phase Three

The final phase of a daily meditation practice is learning to direct your attention. This can be done by focusing on gratitude, saying a prayer, or setting an intention.

You do the same work of bringing back your attention, but this time you focus on your highest possible good. So you can say, okay, I’m going to assist this individual today. My intention is openness or kindness.

Source: Crossroads Hospice & Palliative Care.