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Practical Insights for Busy Caregivers

2 quick relaxation techniques for caregivers


March 13, 2017, by Pat Morden, Caregiver Exchange

There’s no question that caregiving is stressful. Caregivers deal daily with worry, loss, frustration, physical and emotional demands, financial worries, and much more. And taking the time to relax and re-group? It just doesn’t seem important.

But it is. Sally Boyle, Program Lead, South West Self-Management, is a trained facilitator with the new Powerful Tools for Caregivers program. She says that negative stress can cause increased health problems, disrupted relationships, burnout, and depression among caregivers. It can also decrease the quality of the care you’re providing. In other words, if you want your loved one to get the best possible care, you must manage your own stress.

Boyle says caregivers should pay attention to the early warning signs of stress, such as headaches, muscle tension, upset stomach, fatigue, and irritability. It’s important, she says, to distinguish between internal and external stressors, and then accept what you can’t change, and change what you can.

Relaxation techniques can help you manage. Boyle recommends a 9-minute progressive muscle relaxation technique that is available free of charge at It’s something you can do anywhere, any time, to dial down your stress level. The guided imagery Walk on the Beach is also effective and takes just six minutes.

Powerful Tools for Caregivers is a free six-week workshop for caregivers, currently available in the South West and Central East regions of Ontario. The program was originally developed and tested in the U.S. and has trained more than 80,000 caregivers there. In addition to stress management, the program includes topics such as taking care of yourself, communicating feelings, communicating in challenging situations, and mastering caregiving. At each session, participants set an action plan for the upcoming week, based on what will bring them joy.
To find out more about Powerful Tools for Caregivers, visit the South West or Central East Self-Management Program.