Some relaxation techniques for caregivers

Relaxation exercises can be very useful in relieving tension and enhancing an overall sense of relaxation. The focus of these exercises is to calm the body and mind.

Relaxed breathing involves breathing through the diaphragm, which improves circulation and slows down heart rate. To begin, find a comfortable place to lie or sit. Breathe through the nose slowly, allowing your belly to fill with air, while keeping your chest and shoulders still. Exhale through the mouth, letting your belly relax. Relax, and wait for your body to take its next breath. Place your hand on your abdomen, and inhale slowly. Practice this several times a day, for a minute or two each time.

Muscle relaxation techniques involve consciously relaxing all or part of the body and calming the mind as well. Again, start by getting comfortable. Close your eyes and take a few relaxed breaths. Relax your face, including your eyes, jaw, and neck. Now, focus on relaxing your shoulders, letting go of all tension. Let your shoulders drop. From the shoulders, move on to relaxing the arms, hands, and fingers. Let your arms feel loose and floppy, like a dishrag. Relax your back and chest, breathing all the while. Finally, focus on legs and feet. Spend a minute or two in this state of total relaxation, keeping eyes closed and breathing deeply.

Visualization techniques begin with getting comfortable and breathing deeply. Close your eyes and picture a peaceful place, either somewhere you have visited or a place you imagine as restful. Imagine this place vividly, with colors, sounds and smells. Place yourself in this imaginary spot for a few minutes, breathing and relaxing. When you are ready "to leave," open your eyes but remain peaceful for a minute or two. Try these techniques whenever stress becomes overwhelming, and practice them regularly.

The Senior Connection is a column provided by the Clinton County Office for the Aging. For more information about services for senior citizens, contact their office at 135 Margaret St., Suite 105, Plattsburgh or call them at 565-4620. Information is also periodically provided by the Behavioral Health Services North Caregiver Resource Center. They may be reached at 565-4543 or 565-4625.

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