Mindfulness For Carers: How to Manage the Demands of Caregiving while Finding a Place for Yourself

By Cheryl Rezek Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2015, ISBN: 978-1-78450-147-1, 96 pages, $ paperback mindfullnessCarers are particularly vulnerable to feeling dysregulated, worried and overwhelmed by the numerous demands that come with caregiving, whether they are physical, psychological or emotional. Mindfulness can be enormously beneficial to caregivers, whether professional or voluntary, as a means of developing greater balance, regulation, resilience and increased control over their thoughts, feelings and emotions. Mindfulness is an evidence-based approach that is proven to help protect against stress, anxiety, depression and burnout. There is no end point with mindfulness. Each moment of life is a new one which can be reacted to with fear or responded to with awareness. The author provides a gentle introduction to mindfulness, and explains how simple mindfulness practices can be used to manage the day-to-day demands of caring for others effectively, helping caregivers to gain a greater sense of control and maintain a more positive and balanced perspective. The book includes easy-to-use and enjoyable mindfulness exercises, short enough to fit into any lifestyle. This book should be required and available for all those involved in caring for others with mental health conditions, disabilities and other special needs including relatives, adoptive parents, foster parents, as well as professionals including medical, health/mental health and child welfare staff. Mindfulness meditation can change the neuronal pathways in the brain: the more you do it the more your brain responds. This book was not only condensed and straight to the point but the author does a good job of explaining the short- and long-term implications of stress and burnout on overall health and well-being. The length of the book is highly appealing to the busy caregiver who will often say “I don’t have any time to read a book.” The 96 pages are engaging from the beginning and I found myself wanting to practice several of the exercises in the first 20 minutes of opening the cover. The overall message is to slow down, pay attention to what is happening right now in this moment, focus on your breathing and take back some of the control that is often stripped from us as helpers and givers. The book is now on my nightstand and I open it several times a day when I need to re-regulate and slow down. Mindfulness can help with those harsh and difficult thoughts and emotions that carers may carry. Being mindful will help you to recognize the kindness, generosity, compassion and strength that you have and give to those for whom you care. — Reviewed by Denise Rice, MSW, LCSW, LAC, a crisis assessment specialist in the emergency department for Penrose-St. Francis Hospital and a contract trainer for the Colorado State Foster Parent Association and The Adoption Exchange.

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