For Caregivers: Be Calmer and More Satisfied with Mindfulness

Reviewed Sep 22, 2016

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Summary

  • Learning to stop "doing" and start "being" is the trick to mindful caregiving.
  • When you are calm and aware of the present, you will be more satisfied.

Caregiving can be hard and nonstop. It comes with many tasks and responsibilities. It is twisted into the rest of life.

This may make caregivers rush through their days. Many caregivers get no breaks or vacations, and they can end up feeling stressed and unsatisfied.

Mindfulness for stress relief

Mindfulness can help caregivers be less stressed and more satisfied. Mindfulness is an awareness of the present moment without judgment. Scientists say that mindfulness practices are powerful stress reducers. They also decrease anxiety, fight depression, and increase happiness.

Stress is bad for you and the people in your care. People pick up on others’ moods. If you are stressed, you are sharing that stress with others. Children are the most affected. It works the other way, too. Science shows that when parents remain calm, their children often are more likely to remain calm as well. The same is true for adults.

Get into “being-mode”

Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting, says there are two modes of caregiving, doing or being:

  • Doing-mode is important. It helps us get things done, solves problems, and takes care of business. But doing-mode is often rushed. Parents in doing-mode are on autopilot, not truly attentive of the children or other people they care for.
  • Being-mode is the goal for mindful caregivers. It is living mindfully. Kabat-Zinn suggests “observing, questioning, looking at what (you) most value and what (you) think is most important” for the people in your care.

To get into being-mode, stop rushing and be in the moment. Less rushing means less stress. In being-mode, caregivers can understand what is going on with themselves and others. They are more aware of their emotions and moods and can focus on the people in their care.

Paying close attention is the only way people get to know each other. This will lead to caregivers catching not just big moments, but many valuable little moments. For example, Karen felt her children were growing up too fast. She tried to focus and return to being-mode whenever she realized she was on autopilot. Karen learned how to slow down and experience their childhood with them. This also helped her find more effective ways to talk to and treat them.

Not being judgmental is important. It allows caregivers to see things without bias. Negative judgments color how people see things. Studies have shown that negativity actually creates more negativity. Not being judgmental also helps people be more accepting of others, things they cannot change, and themselves. Acceptance lets people develop empathy and close relationships, and increases satisfaction and happiness.

How to be mindful

Meditation is a common mindfulness practice. It creates awareness and decreases stress. Caregivers can do it on their own. Basic meditation is being still and clearing your mind. Some people sit upright. Others lie down. Caregivers can use other practices while they work.

People use breathing exercises to focus their attention. Notice how you are breathing. Feel the cool air coming in and the warm air coming out. See if you can try to slow your breath. This alone can help you be calmer.

A quick body scan is another strategy. Notice how your body feels. Pay attention to how each body part feels. Pain and discomfort affect moods. If you notice you have a headache, be aware that it might make you feel negative.

A similar tactic is the emotional check. How are you feeling? Your mood affects how you behave and treat others. Sometimes, just noticing that you are angry can calm you down. It can help you discover emotions you did not know were there. Ask yourself if fear or sadness is driving your anger.

People can use a personal mantra to bring themselves to the present. A mantra is any series of words that calms you. It can be a prayer, a saying you like or something you picked up in a yoga class.

You can also stop and share. Lie on the ground. Feel the grass with your feet. Join your child in singing. The older person you care for may watch a lot of television. You can watch with him or catch the show later. It will give you something to talk about with him.

Counting backward from 10 to one is also useful. At 10, you are in doing mode. As the numbers get smaller, try to get into being-mode. Some people need more time and use a higher number.

Resources

Mindful
www.mindful.org

The Mindful Parent
www.themindfulparent.org

Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting by Jon Kabat-Zinn and Myla Kabat-Zinn. Hyperion, 2010.

By Beth Landau
Source: National Alliance on Mental Illness, www.nami.org; National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, National Institutes of Health, http://nccam.nih.gov; Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting by Jon Kabat-Zinn and Myla Kabat-Zinn. Hyperion, 2010.

Summary

  • Learning to stop "doing" and start "being" is the trick to mindful caregiving.
  • When you are calm and aware of the present, you will be more satisfied.

Caregiving can be hard and nonstop. It comes with many tasks and responsibilities. It is twisted into the rest of life.

This may make caregivers rush through their days. Many caregivers get no breaks or vacations, and they can end up feeling stressed and unsatisfied.

Mindfulness for stress relief

Mindfulness can help caregivers be less stressed and more satisfied. Mindfulness is an awareness of the present moment without judgment. Scientists say that mindfulness practices are powerful stress reducers. They also decrease anxiety, fight depression, and increase happiness.

Stress is bad for you and the people in your care. People pick up on others’ moods. If you are stressed, you are sharing that stress with others. Children are the most affected. It works the other way, too. Science shows that when parents remain calm, their children often are more likely to remain calm as well. The same is true for adults.

Get into “being-mode”

Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting, says there are two modes of caregiving, doing or being:

  • Doing-mode is important. It helps us get things done, solves problems, and takes care of business. But doing-mode is often rushed. Parents in doing-mode are on autopilot, not truly attentive of the children or other people they care for.
  • Being-mode is the goal for mindful caregivers. It is living mindfully. Kabat-Zinn suggests “observing, questioning, looking at what (you) most value and what (you) think is most important” for the people in your care.

To get into being-mode, stop rushing and be in the moment. Less rushing means less stress. In being-mode, caregivers can understand what is going on with themselves and others. They are more aware of their emotions and moods and can focus on the people in their care.

Paying close attention is the only way people get to know each other. This will lead to caregivers catching not just big moments, but many valuable little moments. For example, Karen felt her children were growing up too fast. She tried to focus and return to being-mode whenever she realized she was on autopilot. Karen learned how to slow down and experience their childhood with them. This also helped her find more effective ways to talk to and treat them.

Not being judgmental is important. It allows caregivers to see things without bias. Negative judgments color how people see things. Studies have shown that negativity actually creates more negativity. Not being judgmental also helps people be more accepting of others, things they cannot change, and themselves. Acceptance lets people develop empathy and close relationships, and increases satisfaction and happiness.

How to be mindful

Meditation is a common mindfulness practice. It creates awareness and decreases stress. Caregivers can do it on their own. Basic meditation is being still and clearing your mind. Some people sit upright. Others lie down. Caregivers can use other practices while they work.

People use breathing exercises to focus their attention. Notice how you are breathing. Feel the cool air coming in and the warm air coming out. See if you can try to slow your breath. This alone can help you be calmer.

A quick body scan is another strategy. Notice how your body feels. Pay attention to how each body part feels. Pain and discomfort affect moods. If you notice you have a headache, be aware that it might make you feel negative.

A similar tactic is the emotional check. How are you feeling? Your mood affects how you behave and treat others. Sometimes, just noticing that you are angry can calm you down. It can help you discover emotions you did not know were there. Ask yourself if fear or sadness is driving your anger.

People can use a personal mantra to bring themselves to the present. A mantra is any series of words that calms you. It can be a prayer, a saying you like or something you picked up in a yoga class.

You can also stop and share. Lie on the ground. Feel the grass with your feet. Join your child in singing. The older person you care for may watch a lot of television. You can watch with him or catch the show later. It will give you something to talk about with him.

Counting backward from 10 to one is also useful. At 10, you are in doing mode. As the numbers get smaller, try to get into being-mode. Some people need more time and use a higher number.

Resources

Mindful
www.mindful.org

The Mindful Parent
www.themindfulparent.org

Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting by Jon Kabat-Zinn and Myla Kabat-Zinn. Hyperion, 2010.

By Beth Landau
Source: National Alliance on Mental Illness, www.nami.org; National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, National Institutes of Health, http://nccam.nih.gov; Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting by Jon Kabat-Zinn and Myla Kabat-Zinn. Hyperion, 2010.

Summary

  • Learning to stop "doing" and start "being" is the trick to mindful caregiving.
  • When you are calm and aware of the present, you will be more satisfied.

Caregiving can be hard and nonstop. It comes with many tasks and responsibilities. It is twisted into the rest of life.

This may make caregivers rush through their days. Many caregivers get no breaks or vacations, and they can end up feeling stressed and unsatisfied.

Mindfulness for stress relief

Mindfulness can help caregivers be less stressed and more satisfied. Mindfulness is an awareness of the present moment without judgment. Scientists say that mindfulness practices are powerful stress reducers. They also decrease anxiety, fight depression, and increase happiness.

Stress is bad for you and the people in your care. People pick up on others’ moods. If you are stressed, you are sharing that stress with others. Children are the most affected. It works the other way, too. Science shows that when parents remain calm, their children often are more likely to remain calm as well. The same is true for adults.

Get into “being-mode”

Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting, says there are two modes of caregiving, doing or being:

  • Doing-mode is important. It helps us get things done, solves problems, and takes care of business. But doing-mode is often rushed. Parents in doing-mode are on autopilot, not truly attentive of the children or other people they care for.
  • Being-mode is the goal for mindful caregivers. It is living mindfully. Kabat-Zinn suggests “observing, questioning, looking at what (you) most value and what (you) think is most important” for the people in your care.

To get into being-mode, stop rushing and be in the moment. Less rushing means less stress. In being-mode, caregivers can understand what is going on with themselves and others. They are more aware of their emotions and moods and can focus on the people in their care.

Paying close attention is the only way people get to know each other. This will lead to caregivers catching not just big moments, but many valuable little moments. For example, Karen felt her children were growing up too fast. She tried to focus and return to being-mode whenever she realized she was on autopilot. Karen learned how to slow down and experience their childhood with them. This also helped her find more effective ways to talk to and treat them.

Not being judgmental is important. It allows caregivers to see things without bias. Negative judgments color how people see things. Studies have shown that negativity actually creates more negativity. Not being judgmental also helps people be more accepting of others, things they cannot change, and themselves. Acceptance lets people develop empathy and close relationships, and increases satisfaction and happiness.

How to be mindful

Meditation is a common mindfulness practice. It creates awareness and decreases stress. Caregivers can do it on their own. Basic meditation is being still and clearing your mind. Some people sit upright. Others lie down. Caregivers can use other practices while they work.

People use breathing exercises to focus their attention. Notice how you are breathing. Feel the cool air coming in and the warm air coming out. See if you can try to slow your breath. This alone can help you be calmer.

A quick body scan is another strategy. Notice how your body feels. Pay attention to how each body part feels. Pain and discomfort affect moods. If you notice you have a headache, be aware that it might make you feel negative.

A similar tactic is the emotional check. How are you feeling? Your mood affects how you behave and treat others. Sometimes, just noticing that you are angry can calm you down. It can help you discover emotions you did not know were there. Ask yourself if fear or sadness is driving your anger.

People can use a personal mantra to bring themselves to the present. A mantra is any series of words that calms you. It can be a prayer, a saying you like or something you picked up in a yoga class.

You can also stop and share. Lie on the ground. Feel the grass with your feet. Join your child in singing. The older person you care for may watch a lot of television. You can watch with him or catch the show later. It will give you something to talk about with him.

Counting backward from 10 to one is also useful. At 10, you are in doing mode. As the numbers get smaller, try to get into being-mode. Some people need more time and use a higher number.

Resources

Mindful
www.mindful.org

The Mindful Parent
www.themindfulparent.org

Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting by Jon Kabat-Zinn and Myla Kabat-Zinn. Hyperion, 2010.

By Beth Landau
Source: National Alliance on Mental Illness, www.nami.org; National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, National Institutes of Health, http://nccam.nih.gov; Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting by Jon Kabat-Zinn and Myla Kabat-Zinn. Hyperion, 2010.

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