Our Direct Support Staff are excellent caregivers for the people we serve. They know each individuals’ story and what makes them happy in their lives. As a caregiver, our staff experience both joy and challenges. To support their work, we encourage our staff to be present in the moment and to practice mindfulness.
Here are some tips offered by Julie Jackman, RN and CHS Healthcare Coordinator, that you can follow daily if you are providing direct care for someone you love.
No matter where your day takes you, you can always make time to practice mindfulness.
Put your phone on airplane mode
Don’t wait for your next trip to take advantage of your phone’s “airplane mode feature”. If you find yourself engaged in an activity that needs your full attention, you can switch your phone into airplane mode for a while so that you aren’t distracted by incoming calls or text messages. This will allow you to focus more fully on the time you spend with family, friends, and loved ones. If you get into the habit of turning your attention away from your phone you will find it becomes easier to focus on the present moment.
Get more sleep
It is difficult to be fully present when you are feeling exhausted. Practice healthy sleeping habits to ensure you are rested enough to get through each day. Aim for 8 hours of sleep each night and try to go to bed and wake up around the same time each day to help your body adapt to a consistent sleep schedule. The more rest you get at night, the more rested and present you will feel during the day.
Connect with nature
Another way you can work mindfulness into each day is by paying closer attention to the sights and sounds you encounter in nature. Take time to notice the way the sun warms your face through the window even on a cool winter day. Any opportunity you have to be outside, try to enjoy the sights and sounds of nature without distraction. Remember to take a few extra deep breaths of fresh air when you are walking outside.
Meditation does not have to be practiced for long amounts of time to be effective. Try spending just a minute or two each morning to focus on how your body feels, breathe deeply, and stretch any muscles that feel especially tight. You can also try this exercise before bed, paying close attention to any extra mental or physical stressors that may have come up during your day.
Eat slowly and mindfully
One of the best ways to work mindfulness into your day is by practicing mindful eating. So often we find ourselves hurrying from one place to the next without paying enough attention to the way our body tries to communicate with us. Each day you can make an effort to listen more closely to the signals your body sends when you are hungry or thirsty. This type of mindfulness will help you to better understand when you are hungry, how hungry you are, and what type of nutrients your body is craving. If you find that you do not remember to drink water until you are already very thirsty, try setting occasional reminders on your phone so that you can get in the habit of checking in with your body regularly.