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    Are You Too Stressed? 5 Anti-Stress Exercises for Any Caregiver

    Stress is a fact of life. It helps your body prepare to face danger, during which you'll experience both physical and psychological changes. However, chronic stress is not healthy and can produce chronic health conditions such as high blood pressure, increased risk of chronic diseases and heart disease. How you manage your stress level will help determine your level of health.

    As a nurse or home caregiver, you are consistently placed in situations that are challenging and sometimes difficult. The effects of stress tend to build up over time, so it's important to take practical steps to reduce those effects and help your body cope with stress. Physical symptoms of chronic stress can include headaches, high blood pressure, nervous twitches, and sleeping difficulties. You may also be quick to anger, and anxious, depressed or may become burned out. Try these 5 simple exercises to help you reduce your levels of stress and improve your health.

    Breathing 

    Have you ever noticed that when you're relaxed your breathing is slow and deep? his sends a message to your brain that helps to calm your nerves. You can reproduce this sense of calm by purposely using deep belly breathing. You can do this anywhere, whether at home or out in public. Start by sitting or lying flat in a comfortable position and placing one hand over your belly just below your ribs. Take a deep breath through your nose and let your stomach push your hand out. As you're breathing out through your mouth, purse your lips as if you're whistling. Do this 3 to 10 times and take your time with each breath. As you learn how to do this, you’ll easily be able to do it sitting or standing.

    Emotional Freedom Techniques

    The underlying strategies used in Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) are based on traditional Chinese medicine meridians. The process is sometimes called tapping and while it might sound like it’s from another world, you don't have to believe in it in order for it to work. It has been a powerful self-help method used for decades and proven in clinical trials to help reduce emotional impact memories, emotional stress and accelerate healing. The process is based on tapping certain areas of your body which can be done very unobtrusively in public. Consider incorporating EFT into your daily routine.

    Music and Laughter

    While not a specific exercise, cranking up the tunes and listening to either soothing or upbeat music and singing at the top of your lungs helps to calm your nerves and blow off steam. With your music turned up, you can also start moving to the music and getting your heart rate up. Any type of aerobic exercise, including dancing, helps your body release endorphins that make you feel good with no side effects and helps you reduce stress levels. By the same token, a good belly laugh also helps reduce your cortisol levels or the body's stress hormone. Deep laughter also releases endorphins. So, when you're truly stressed, you may want to turn up the music or sit down with your favorite comedy.

    Guided Imagery

    This quiet technique helps move your focus from the stress you're feeling to conjuring up scenes or places in your mind that help you to focus and relax. There are several free apps or online recordings that you can use to help focus your mind. Be sure the imagery you choose has some personal significance, such as sitting by a lake, listening to a babbling brook or sitting by the ocean. Guided imagery can help reinforce a positive image of yourself. It's also important to continue to practice this as it may be difficult in the beginning to push aside intrusive thoughts or remove negative mental images.

    Mindfulness Meditation

    Mindfulness is one key strategy psychologists and yoga practitioners have used to overcome suffering and remove stress. It is a Buddhist tradition, and something practiced in contemplative psychotherapy training. There are different kinds of meditation, but in mindfulness meditation, you direct your thoughts to become aware of yourself from moment to moment. One of the problems with experiencing stress is you tend to live in the future and imagine all the things that could go wrong, as opposed to living in the present and dealing with whatever is happening at the moment. You can practice mindfulness anywhere and without any equipment. The goal is not to quiet your mind but allow your mind to wander and pay attention to where it's going. The goal is to turn off that part of your brain that is judging what you're thinking and return your attention to the present.

    Take The Next Step In Your Career Today!

    Becoming stressed, whether at work or home, reduces your ability to be productive and creative. As an in-home care provider with a life outside of work, it’s likely you’re interested in doing a good job at home and at work. Join us at Harmony where we are concerned about your health and strive to make your assignments as productive as possible.

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