2 guys dancing1.   Breathe deeply.

Use your diaphragm when breathing. Straighten up your body as if it were being pulled from the center of your head.  Take a deep breath and make sure that your diaphragm lifts when doing it.  Inhale deeply to a count of 4, then exhale slowly to a count of 4.  Repeat this 4 times (my favorite number).  Do this often. Make a mental note that you will do this at least once whenever the phone rings or whenever you walk through a door (or whatever cue you choose).

2.  Learn to meditate.

This is one of my new year’s resolutions.  There are classes, videos and even iPhone or other smart phone apps for this.  If you have an iPhone and are just beginning to learn to meditate, “Simply Being” is a nice app for guided meditation.

3.  Control the things you can control and don’t worry about the rest.

If the big things you need to do are overwhelming your mind, try making a list of several small things so that you can do them, cross them off your list and feel like you’ve accomplished something.  That will help to free your brain to take on one bigger item.

4.  Be happy, not perfect.

It only took me 40 something years to figure this out!  Perfectionsits are overwhelmed by lack of control.  I wanted something to be perfect, so I would avoid doing it, knowing it would never turn out that way.  You are never going to make everything perfect – not the house, not the children, not the parent’s medical condition.  Once I learned this, my life became much more peaceful.

5. Declutter.

Studies have shown that clutter actually clutters your mind as well as your space.  It’s hard to think amongst all that clutter and it causes stress.

Get rid of STUFF!  Ok, this is something I’m still working on.  Would you believe that at one point in my life I had over 450 beanie babies?????  There were so many that they had to be kept in crates in the shower. It’s a long story and thankfully in the past.

Somebody else might need your stuff more than you do.  When my father came to live with me, he had AT LEAST 200 shirts. Half of them didn’t fit.  It took awhile but I was able to convince him to give many of them away by saying that “there are people who have NO shirts”.  Coming from the depression era, he understood that concept.

So get rid of the clutter and before bringing anything else into the house, ask yourself, where will I put it and do I REALLY need it?

6.  Give your work area a make-over.

After you declutter, you may want to add some calming colors to your work area.  Blues and greens are good for that.  A bowl of green apples, a flowering plant or bouquet of flowers is always a nice addition to a space where you spend a lot of time.  File folders now come in lovely patterns and a new “chalkboard” paint by Hudson Paints comes in hot pink, tangerine and lots of other fun colors.

“10-Minute Feng Shui” by Skye Alexander recommends placing a picture in your office (or home office area) of a landscape with a mountain in the distance.  The mountain represents your long-term financial goals, still in the distance, and the heights to which you aspire (perhaps when you are no longer a care giver). When you look at this picture, you are encouraged to continue striving for greater achievements and rewards.

7.  Skip the afternoon coffee and opt for tea.

Studies at The University of London have shown that drinking black tea daily can help to reduce the levels of stress hormones circulating in your body.

8.  Use aroma therapy.

According to a recent study from Srinakharinwinot University in Thailand, essence of rose oil or ylang ylang placed on the wrists caused a decreased breathing rate and lowered systemic blood pressure.  For mild headaches, oil of spearmint placed at the temples or a lavendar filled neck pillow might help.

9. Relax by doing repetative  tasks.

For me, chopping vegetables by hand is always relaxing.   I rarely use my food processor anymore.  Folding clothes, turning the compost pile, and planting bulbs would also be ways to focus your attention away from other worries.  You might also be able to include your  care recipient in these activities IF it would not cause further stress.

10.  Journal

You can learn a lot about yourself by journaling.  By writing out your thoughts, you can often come up with answers to problems or find patterns in your everyday life that you either want to make sure you keep, or may want to change.

If you don’t like journaling, you might want to start with the book “List Your Self: Listmaking as the Way to Self-Discovery” by Illene Segalove and Bob Velick.  If you’re a person who loves lists, you’ll love this book.

11.  Dance !

You KNEW that I had to include this.  Dance in the kitchen; dance with the dog; dance to a video lesson.  Dance like no one is watching!


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