Recent estimates show that 80 percent of caregivers in the US are not healthcare professionals. Given the both physically and emotionally taxing nature of the work, plus the fact that most caregivers aren’t professionally trained, it should come as no surprise that many caregivers suffer from anxiety. In fact, so many caregivers complain of anxiety symptoms that “caregiver stress” is now a medically recognized term.
The first thing every caregiver should understand is that it’s just as important to take care of themselves as it is to take care of their patients. One free, easy, and effective way caregivers can better cope with the stresses of work is to schedule a few moments of mindfulness practice every day.
Mindfulness: It’s Not Just Meditation
Before we even suggest how to practice mindfulness, we should clear up a common misconception about mindfulness. When people hear the word “mindfulness” they often assume it’s synonymous with meditation. But while meditation can certainly be considered a mindfulness practice, mindfulness encompasses a wide variety of exercises designed to help people better manage stress. Besides meditation, a few common mindfulness practices include journaling, music therapy, yoga, talk therapy, and Tai Chi. As long as the technique helps bring you into the present moment, it could be considered a form of mindfulness.
Daily mindfulness practice helps caregivers perform their duties without becoming overburdened with stress. Luckily, there are tons of convenient apps available to help caregivers find their inner Zen through their smartphone. Below, we’ll go over five excellent apps all caregivers can use to start their journey towards inner calm.
People who struggle with chronic pain conditions must download the Curable app. Created by a team of people who overcame their own challenges with with pain, Curable uses the latest research in mindbody healing to help users overcome conditions such as low back pain, migraine headaches, and irritable bowel syndrome.
After downloading Curable onto your Apple or Android product, you get access to an artificial intelligent “pain coach” named Clara. Users just have to type in their pain symptoms and Clara will put together a personalized mindfulness practice. Simply follow Clara’s lesson plans everyday and you may start to feel better within around a month.
Curable’s developers say 70 percent of users experience some relief from their pain symptoms within 30 days of first starting to use the app. Even if you do not suffer from chronic pain, caregivers can still benefit from Curable’s exercises and can practice a more mindful way of living.
For those who aren’t aware, pranayama is the ancient yogic discipline of controlling the breath to achieve a greater state mental clarity. Many yogis use pranayama exercises to help them enter deeper states of meditation and quickly silence mental chatter. Thanks to the Universal Breathing app, now you don’t need to travel to an ashram to learn basic pranayama exercises to help you through your day. People who use the Universal Breathing app have access to tons of information on pranayama technique, breathing courses, guided sessions, and a progress journal. Find out what exercises work best for you and read about pranayama theory on this fascinating app.
Today, the Universal Breathing app is available for free in the App Store, Google Play, and on the Nook.
If you’re not into guided meditations or breathing exercises, perhaps you’d prefer a mindfulness practice like journaling. Before you put down journaling as “not real mindfulness,” you should know that many scientific studies prove that journaling helps boost the immune system and relieves depression.
Probably the easiest way to get into the journaling habit in our digital age is to download the Journey app. The Journey app allows you to write and store your journal entries in the Cloud and add photos from your albums. You can even share moments with friends and family across multiple platforms. The Journey app is available on Apple, Android, and Microsoft products.
WildMind Buddhist Meditation
WildMind’s Bodhi app has more than 200 guided meditation sessions based on ancient Buddhist practices. Although most of these meditations are indebted to Buddhist teachings, you don’t have to know anything about Buddhist traditions to get a great deal out of this app. The two main practices encouraged in these meditation sessions include basic breath meditation and loving-kindness meditation (also known as metta practice). Most of these meditation sessions last between 15 to 20 minutes. WildMind’s app also includes instructions on practicing walking meditation and tips to improve your meditation posture.
Aura is an award-winning mindfulness app tailored for people who live fast-paced lifestyles. All the Aura app asks is that you set aside three minutes every day for a guided meditation. That’s it. If you feel like it, you could add a few of Aura’s “micro-meditations” throughout your day, each of which lasts around 30 seconds. There are also relaxing forest soundscapes on Aura’s app to help you get through particularly stressful days.
All of your meditations are tailored to your specific needs by AI technology and Aura keeps tabs on your mood so you can see whether or not certain meditations are working for you. Aura is available on Android and iOS devices.
Mindfulness Practice: Every Caregiver’s First Priority
Caregivers have a habit of neglecting their own wellbeing for their patients’ sakes. Some caregivers even believe taking a few minutes out of the day to practice mindfulness is “selfish.” Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, taking a few minutes to practice mindfulness everyday will improve the quality of care you can give to your patient. It should be mandatory that all caregivers practice some form of mindfulness today, especially with all of these great apps literally at our fingertips.
by Maricel Tabalba
Maricel Tabalba is a freelance writer working with Curable Health, who is interested in writing about natural and holistic remedies, smart gadgets, emerging tech trends, and environmentally friendly advice. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in Communication from the University of Illinois at Chicago.