The dynamics of caregiving and a guide to self-care

The dynamics of caregiving and a guide to self-care

Health & Lifestyle

Urvashi Puri

Urvashi Puri

19 May 2018, 08:29 — 7 min read

Caregiving is an important part of the fabric of our society. There are times in our lives when it is required for us to be caregivers, and we take up the role out of love and a sense of responsibility. Of course, while the patient’s condition is given much scrutiny, we don’t often speak enough about the emotional and physical impact on the caregivers. The life of a caregiver changes drastically when they are giving care and they are often expected at the same time to fulfill all the other responsibilities like holding down a job, taking care of children etc. 


Reiki is often used as a method for calming and encouraging healing in patients with various illnesses, yet it also has the potential to benefit their caregivers. Family caregivers give a lot of themselves when taking care of their loved ones. In addition to working to meet their loved one’s physical and emotional needs, they often have to address practical matters, such as paying for care, selling a parent’s house and similar matters. On top of this, caregivers have additional responsibilities to balance, such as caring for children, performing housework and managing a career. Reiki is one tool that can help caregivers with the stress, burnout and other problems they tend to face.


Consequences of caregiving 

It is common for caregivers, especially family members, to neglect their own needs and health in favour of focusing on the loved one’s needs. If they do focus on themselves, they may feel guilty.

Some signs of personal neglect include 55% skipping their own doctor’s appointments. 58% having their exercise habits decline after starting to give care. 63% reporting a poor diet, according to the National Alliance for Caregiving and Evercare.


Caregivers may develop numerous problems due to the focused devotion of taking care of their loved one. They deal with a lot of stress from the toll caregiving itself takes and from the burden of adding it to other responsibilities. The 2004 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that family caregivers with extreme levels of stress had up to 10 years taken away from their lifespans. Depression is another common problem caregivers face. The Assessment of Family Caregivers from 2006 found that the number of family caregivers showing significant symptoms of depression was as high as 40 to 70%.


Caregivers face many other problems as well. They can face burnout, have trouble performing their work or keeping up with other family responsibilities, have financial troubles and face other physical and mental health issues.


Focusing on self-care

Because of the many problems that can arise when caregiving, these family members need to make their own health and well-being a priority. Also, caregivers are able to provide better care to their loved ones when they take better care of themselves. This is one of the main reasons why the notion of self-care is widely discussed in relation to caregivers. Caregivers can use Reiki healing energy as one method of focusing on their mental, physical and spiritual health. Reiki is associated with helping some of the main problems caregivers face, including stress and depression, with research backing up some of its abilities.


For instance, a 2004 study in the journal Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine looked at effects of Reiki on psychological depression and self-perceived stress. After six weeks of Reiki treatment, researchers found that the psychological distress symptoms went down significantly. The study also found that the results were long-term, with the symptom differences lasting a year later.


Related to caregivers facing burnout, studies have found that Reiki has benefited healthcare workers with burnout. A 2011 study in the journal Biological Research for Nursing found that Reiki sessions offered immediate physiological effects that suggested the treatment affected the parasympathetic nervous system in the participants. The researchers noted that this reaction showed Reiki may encourage relaxation in this population.


How can caregivers gain the benefits of Reiki?

Caregivers can find ways to participate in Reiki sessions to see if this practice benefits their health and well-being. Many medical facilities, such as hospitals and hospices, facilitate the process by offering Reiki sessions to caregivers. A family caregiver can check whether the facilities treating her loved one provides this type of offering, or she could suggest it.


Facilities that do not currently have this offering could consider providing it as a benefit to their patients and caregivers. This could be part of a program offering Reiki to patients and/or part of a caregiver wellness program. Facilities could gain the services of Reiki volunteers or pay Reiki Masters for sessions. 


If caregivers do not have Reiki available to them through medical facilities, they could seek out Reiki Masters in their area to offer personal Reiki sessions. In addition or as an alternative, caregivers have the option to learn how to perform Reiki. Doing so would give them the ability to perform Reiki on themselves. This option could be beneficial since caregivers could have self-Reiki sessions any time they needed it without having to arrange for leaving the home. As an added benefit, a caregiver could perform Reiki on his or her loved one.


Caregivers may potentially face other health issues or personal problems when they take on the enormous responsibility of caring for a loved one. Reiki is a natural healing method that has the potential to help with many concerns associated with caregiving. Whether they receive Reiki sessions or learn to give Reiki to themselves, caregivers may gain real benefits that improve their lives and the lives of those they care for.


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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views, official policy or position of GlobalLinker.


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Urvashi Puri

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