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August 15th is National Relaxation Day: Here’s Why Caregivers and Medical Staff Should Take Time to Relax

By: Linda Kunicki

National Relaxation Day is an important day as we all need a break from the fast-paced and often hectic lifestyles we live. This year in the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic it is imperative that all of us not only relax today but take time often to recuperate from the stress around us.

Experts say there are about 43.5 million people in the United States serving as family caregivers. Of those, 34.2 million are caring for adults aged 50 and over. The average time family caregivers spend taking care of their loved ones is 24.4 hours per week. However, one fourth of family caregivers spends 41 or more hours each week performing caregiving duties. With so many people giving so much of their time, family caregivers really deserve to celebrate National Relaxation Day on August 15th!

Taking time to relax is important for everyone, but perhaps even more so for people who are family caregivers. Because of the overwhelming emotional and physical demands that caregiving places on a family caregiver, they are prone to caregiver stress. The stress of caregiving puts caregivers at a higher risk than others for depression and anxiety.

In addition to the emotional impact of stress, it can also affect physical health. Some of the ways stress can affect health are:

  • Obesity: Stress can cause caregivers to gain weight, which increases the risk for diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
  • Weakened Immune System: Stress reduces the body’s ability to fight off germs and infections, so caregivers may catch the flu or a cold more easily.
  • Higher Risk for Disease: Prolonged stress increases the risk for chronic health conditions, such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis.

To combat caregiver stress, it’s important that caregiver’s make time to take care of themselves. Don’t ignore your own health. Schedule and keep appointments for regular health care. Also, try to eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly. And, of course, don’t forget to take time just to relax and do something you enjoy.
Ways to Relax on National Relaxation Day (and Every Day!)
If you’ve been caregiving for so long that it feels like you’ve forgotten how to relax, here are some ideas for getting in a little “me time”:

  • Take a Walk: Exercise is actually a great way to burn off stress. A walk is a gentle, relaxing way to spend time in nature while also taking care of your body. For some added enjoyment, walk with a friend, your dog, or use your smartphone to listen to some music as you walk.
  • Read a Book: When is the last time you sat down and enjoyed a good book? If you like to read, taking even ten minutes a day to lose yourself in the words of your favorite author is a great way to unwind and forget about everything else for a while.
  • Play a Game: Spending a little time playing a favorite family game with your children and spouse gives you an opportunity to laugh and create memories while also reminding your kids how much you enjoy just spending time with them.
  • Take a Class: Take a class to learn a new skill or to learn more about a subject you love. Check out your local library to see if they might be offering free classes or seminars. Sometimes churches have crafting groups that are willing to teach newcomers skills like knitting and crocheting, too.
  • Do a Jigsaw Puzzle: Grab a cup of coffee or tea, put on some music, and sit down in front of a jigsaw puzzle for a little while. There’s something almost meditative about putting together a puzzle, and it gives you a great sense of accomplishment when you pop that last piece in!

These are just a few ideas for relaxing, but the activity you do during your relaxation time doesn’t matter as long as it puts you in a good mood and gives you a chance to let go of everything else for a while. So, Caregivers, enjoy National Relaxation Day – you’ve earned it!

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