Self Care for Carers
So, what is mindfulness and how can it help you as a carer?
“Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.” www.mindful.org
The mindful practice of paying attention to the present moment can help to control repetitive, and non-productive thoughts that lead to stress.
You become aware of your thoughts allowing you to step back from them and not take them so literally. That way, your stress response is not initiated in the first place. You don’t immediately react to a situation, instead you have a moment to pause and then use your “wise mind” to come up with the best solution.
Mindfulness switches on your “being” mode of mind, which is associated with relaxation. Your “doing” mode of mind is associated with action and the stress response. You are more aware and sensitive to the needs of your body.
You are more aware of the emotions of others. As your emotional intelligence rises, you are less likely to get into conflict. Your level of care and compassion for yourself and others rises. This compassionate mind soothes you and inhibits your stress response.
Mindfulness practice reduces activity in the part of your brain called the amygdala. The amygdala is central to switching on your stress response, so effectively, your background level of stress is reduced.
You are better able to focus. So you have a greater sense of well-being, and this reduces the stress response. Rather than just seeing the negative consequences of feeling stressed, mindfulness offers you the space to think differently about the stress itself. Observing how the increased pressure helps energise you has a positive effect on your body and mind. (www.mindful.org)
Essex Carers Support asked Monika Barton a blogger on health and lifestyles to write a blog for us on self care and mindfulness. In the blog she lists a number of resources that you can access to help to increase your wellbeing.
If you are interested in learning more about how meditation and mindfulness might be able to help you there are lots of courses that you can do both physically and online.
Essex County Council Adult Community Learning run mindfulness courses.
There are many, many free courses also online. Why not take a look at this one by Mindful which is designed to be a beginners guide.
Essex Carers Support has created a short Information Sheet all about Mindfulness which you can download.