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Care of the Caregiver Series blog 2

In the first blog we discussed recognizing your physical and/or psychological reactions to stress. We also provided some ways to change your outlook and perception about a stressful situation. It’s all about feeling like we have some control.

This time we’re going to talk about some general principles of relaxation. Your ability to keep up your vitality and keep fatigue and muscle tension from building up depends partly on regular periods of mental and physical relaxation. You can learn to become aware of tension and increase your ability to relax.

Here are some GENERAL SUGGESTIONS, coupled with regular daily practice, they can improve your ability to relax quickly, easily and deeply.

The quieter the environment, the better your chances are of getting relaxed.

A comfortable position allows deeper relaxation.

An accepting attitude that you are  ready to relax is important. It will become easier as time passes.

Schedule several relaxation periods during each day, even if they’re only a few minutes long.

Finally, practice, practice, practice. The more frequently you can practice, especially the recommended 15 to 20 minutes each night, the better you’ll get relaxing, spotting tension, handling stress, etc.

The following are two simple RELAXATION TECHNIQUES that you can start with.

Deep breathing

Sit quietly in a comfortable position.

Close your eyes.

Relax your arms, shoulders, and the rest of your body.

Inhale, filling your abdomen (your stomach should go out. Do not suck in your stomach).

Exhale slowly ( your stomach should go in).

Concentrate on slow, rhythmic breathing.

The relaxation response

Sit quietly in a comfortable position.

Close your eyes.

Deeply relaxed all your muscles, beginning at your feet and progressing up your face, keep them relaxed.

Please see your nose. Become aware of your breathing. As you breathe out, say the word “one” silently to yourself. Breathe easily and naturally.

Continue for whatever amount of time you can do right now.

Good nutrition means less stress.

Healthy eating is an important part of your stress management efforts. A well-balanced diet of the proper foods can help you feel energetic and productive, decrease your risk of disease, and allow you to feel at your best. A healthy diet means eating a variety of foods from the different food groups and limiting intake of fat, cholesterol and sodium. There are also some specific aspects of your diet that can directly affect your level of stress.

Avoid excess sugar. You may feel a surge of energy directly after eating foods high in sugar, but soon after your blood sugar level drops dramatically and can leave you irritable and fatigued.

Avoid excess alcohol. Alcohol helps mask the problem, allowing it to become progressively worse. Excessive alcohol is associated with a number of health and social problems.

Avoid excess caffeine. Caffeine is a substance that stimulates the central nervous system. Excessive amounts can produce nervousness, jitters, anxiousness and generally makes the symptoms of stress worse.

Maintain ideal body weight. Excess body weight adds physical stress to your body and for many people can be the source of mental stress as well. Many people use eating as a method of coping with stress.

Do not skip meals. Skipping meals leads to a physical response similar to that of excess sugar consumption. If you’re hungry at other times from meal time, eat just a little, but keep your body fueled.