Girlfriend Days with Non-Military Girlfriends…Exercise, Exercise, Exercise…Water Aerobics…  

In an earlier post, Self Care Plan-Part 2, I give more suggestions for self care.  Thank you! I have heard from you and taken note of the great ways you practice self-care! I appreciate your comments on Facebook and to my blog:)  In addition to your great ideas, a few additional resources are provided below …

Take frequent breaks.

person reading

Like far too many people, especially caregivers, who are already overextended on a daily basis, I am way too often guilty of keeping busy on a non-stop basis. We all need to take frequent breaks during the day to focus on ourselves. Relax. Breathe deeply. Shake out all the stress. Take a walk. Engage rubber exercise bands (or stress balls). Lift weights. Learn chair exercises. If you have a hobby, make sure you enjoy it as often as possible.

Particularly if you care for someone with any type of psychological disability, you understand why it is crucial to find a place to get away and occupy yourself in an activity or practice that offers you a different perspective on things. Or, if you are like me, and could work on projects from sun up to sun down, just take a timer and time your breaks — it’s so important for staying mentally sane, or keeping what I call men-tanity (that is, staying mentally sane)!

On taking the time to get away: consider taking the dog for a walk, or taking a walk by yourself, or just sitting outside to get some fresh air to clear your mind. I’ve started incorporating frequent breaks into my schedule and have incorporated a few of these suggestions as part of my daily routine. These activities are helping me and are important to include in my daily self-care plan.

Exercise.

exercise-weight-woman-sport

Caregivers, let’s just get real .. it’s often difficult, if not impossible, to leave your loved one to attend a weekly yoga class. And for me, leaving my husband to go to an exercise class is usually not an option. But, the good news is that there is a way to get exercise into your day by doing at-home exercises, engaging in yoga, or simply walking.

• Exercise videos. Have any of you tried Fitness Blender? This online website offers a variety of free exercise videos at all levels, totally eliminating the “excuse” factor.
• Yoga. You can buy yoga DVDs at all levels but you can also watch yoga on TV or online for free: Do Yoga With Me is one site, and it offers free online yoga videos for all levels. There are plenty of other online sites.
• Additionally, this same video offers FREE demonstrations of how to breathe correctly, which is essential for getting the most out of any yoga practices. Proper breathing techniques are central to yoga’s effectiveness, so this component of the online yoga site is HUGE. Learning to breathe correctly is essential to maximizing any other form of exercise along with meditation relaxation practices. Do a few preliminary breathing exercises (if need be), then find a yoga lesson that suits your particular level of comfort.
• Catch-A-Lift (CAL). This is a nonprofit that either provides veterans FREE in-home gym equipment or allows them FREE access to any gym in their area. It may be possible for both the veteran and caregiver to qualify to receive assistance from CAL (check here for criteria). Thanks to CAL, the excuse of “not having the means to exercise” is totally eliminated.
• Exercise classes are offered free of charge at many military bases. Check out your nearest military facility for wellness centers and gyms available for free access, with proper military identification.
• Jogging or walking for a cause or playing a sport can be especially relaxing. Walking for a cause, especially if you do so with your loved one or friends, can have a double benefit of exercise and personal satisfaction. You can also meet new friends through these events, which is always deeply rewarding.
• Another option, if there is no military base nearby, is to join a local YMCA. These usually offer sliding scale membership rates to military personnel and their dependents and allow reduced rates for access to the facilities and exercise classes. These often have pools for swimming, which is an extremely good way to relax and relieve stress.
•The Wounded Warrior Project’s Health and Wellness program also provides activities for wellness that often include YMCA membership and engagement. Why not try it!

As noted already, even on a limited basis, any exercise you do between caregiving activities is helpful: Walk or run up and down your stairs several times during quick breaks. Run or walk in place for five minutes. Do stretching exercises. Always, breathe deeply! Stress and anxiety increase heart rate, but if you breathe in slowly, and focus on a mantra, prayer, a special word or phrase, or peaceful image, it will help you lower your heart rate and stress. These activities, among other similar ones, are crucial for keeping mentally sane and physically healthy.

Meditation, PrayerJournaling

female journaling

Meditation, prayer and journaling are also things I have tried. I plan to share more ways that help me in the next blog post! Feel free to post your comments below. Share suggestions of what helps you relieve stress in your day. What works for you just may help somebody else!! Thanks for your comments…and more to come!

Disclaimer: These suggestions and recommendations are not meant to replace medical advice from a qualified physician. You should always seek the advice of your medical doctor before starting any exercise routine to make sure that you do not have medical issues that might be adversely affected by any physical exertion.

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