If you are caring for a loved one, you know time is precious. When you do have a moment to spare, you may spend it scrolling through Facebook or flipping through the channels on TV. However, there may be more productive uses of your time. Here are some ideas of what you can do if life presents you with a break for five, 10 or 30 minutes.
Five Minutes: Breathe
If you find yourself with a five-minute window of time, get deliberate about making those minutes as restorative as possible. In her book “Rising Strong,” Brené Brown recommends a technique called box breathing. Brown notes that everyone from mindfulness experts to members of the military and first responders are taught box breathing or tactical breathing to help focus the mind and calm the body in stressful situations.
Here is how to do it:
- Breathe in deeply, using your stomach, for a count of four – one, two, three, four.
- Hold that inhaled breath for four seconds – one, two, three, four.
- Exhale slowly, for a count of four seconds – one, two, three, four.
- Hold that empty breath for a count of four seconds – one, two, three, four.
Repeating this simple exercise for five minutes will help you become more calm, mindful and aware for the rest of your day.
10 Minutes: Walk
If your loved one has a visitor for 10 minutes, take the opportunity to get outside and go for a walk. Going for a walk, especially in nature, has been shown to reduce stress and help with everything from memory retention to reducing fatigue. Walking benefits can increase if you are walking with a friend or if you have even a small social interaction like chatting with the barista if you pick up a coffee. Putting one foot in front of the other outside is the key.
30 Minutes: Sleep
A nap that is under 45 minutes will help you wake up rested, refreshed and ready to tackle the rest of your day. The ideal time to nap is around 3 p.m., but nap whenever your caregiving duties give you a break. Items that help with a nap include blackout blinds, a slightly cool room, an eye mask, earplugs or a white noise machine. Sleep is undervalued and important, so set up whatever you need to get in a quick, efficient round of shut-eye.
These techniques are meant to be short-term restoratives, but caregivers often need longer stretches of time to prevent caregiver burnout. If you are caring for a loved one, prevent caregiver burnout before it happens by scheduling regular respite care. This can involve a consistent schedule of family members, giving you one to two days off, or reaching out to a home care agency to provide respite care for longer breaks. For more information on how ComForCare Home Care can provide seamless respite care for your family, call 800-886-4044.