Relaxation strategies to help caregivers

Caregivers can benefit from being grounded and flexible to handle the challenges they face on a regular basis

I’m pleased to have Sean Murphy, registered massage therapist, back for the last column in the series Care for the Caregiver.

Sean’s column focuses on relaxation strategies and exercises for caregivers to fit into their daily lives.

Caring for two or more people, themselves and those they are looking after, caregivers often become overwhelmed with their daily work and responsibilities. Caregivers can benefit from being grounded and flexible to handle the challenges they face on a regular basis.

Here are few strategies to consider:

Take a breath & remain calm

Stressful events often come on with little notice. To remain grounded and calm, the caregiver should focus on their breathing. Often we’re told that we should take a deep breath and count to 10. An even better strategy is to focus on breathing through your nose. While breathing through your nose, let your breath out and keep it out until it starts to get uncomfortable and then breathe in gently through your nose once again.

This slows your breathing and allows us to feel calmer. This can be repeated as often as you like. This strategy only works when we breathe through our nose.

In addition, stand with your feet slightly more then shoulder width apart and drop your weight into your feet. Finally, roll your shoulders up and back so that you create an open chest posture, while keeping your back straight.


A longer-term strategy for the caregiver to maintain their composure is to take some time during the day to do some meditation. Ideally, a session of 20 minutes or more gives the best results but even a couple of minutes, provides benefits.

Meditation, or quiet sitting, can be done cross-legged on the floor, or sitting on a chair with a hard seat.

If sitting on a chair, sit at the end of the seat, and make sure you’re on your “sit bones”, with your back straight, hands relaxed on your thighs. Once you’re in this position, close your eyes and focus your attention on your breathing.

Breathe through your nose, following your breath in and going out. Your breathing should be natural, not forced. You’ll find that thoughts will disturb your focus.

This is normal. Don’t get upset, just let the thought “float away” and bring your attention back to your breath. This may happen often but don’t let it distract you from your quiet sitting.

With practice you will be able to maintain your focus on your breathing for longer periods of time. Regular practice will give you a calmer disposition, which will allow you to stay grounded in your daily activities.


Exercise is a great stress buster. Exercise you enjoy and do at least three times a week yields the best results. If you are trying to form an exercise habit for the first time, or aren’t a fan of exercise, experiment with different activities. Hopefully, something will grab your interest and you can start a routine.

Regular exercise does not require special clothing or equipment to be effective. Activities such as walking or doing a stretching routine at home can have a profound effect on one’s health.

Many people find it easier to stay on a regular exercise schedule if they practice with others such as walking with a friend or joining a group activity during the week. The local recreation centre has many different exercise options to choose from.

You may even be able to exercise with the person you are caring for, thereby benefiting you both. Our bodies are designed for movement, so finding a way to move them can make a big difference in the caregiver’s quality of life, as well as those they look after.

If you have any additional questions, contact Sean Murphy at 250-941-8181 or at

Wendy Johnstone is a gerontologist and is the founder of Keystone Eldercare Solutions. Her column runs in the Comox Valley Record every second Friday.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Oyster River Fire Rescue members were called out to a suspicious fire in Black Creek. Two vehicles parked at a private residence were destroyed by fire. Photo courtesy Oyster River Fire Rescue
Suspicious fire destroys two vehicles at Black Creek residence

Oyster River Fire Rescue personnel were dispatched to a fire at a… Continue reading

The Northeast Woods in Comox is a popular area for hikers and mountain bike riders. It's also a protected park and conservation area. Photo by Scott Stanfield
Comox Valley RCMP seeking witnesses to ‘indecent act’ in Northeast Woods

Comox Valley RCMP are looking for witnesses after a man was seen… Continue reading

Courtenay Mayor Bob Wells is pictured in December 2018 presenting Marla Ayre, and her children Hunter and Marissa, with keys to their new home at the Habitat For Humanity Vancouver Island North’s Lake Trail Road project. File photo
Courtenay council gives green light to next Habitat build

Courtenay council adopted a bylaw to allow Habitat for Humanity to construct… Continue reading

Comox Valley Nature is in search of the community's 2021 Tree of The Year. ADOBE STOCK IMAGE
Comox Valley Nature accepting nominations for ‘Tree of the Year’ contest

Submitted to The Record Comox Valley Nature’s (CVN) annual contest, now in… Continue reading

A multi-use bridge proposed at 6th Street would provide a cyclist/pedestrian connection between downtown Courtenay and Simms Park. Graphic supplied
Comox Valley Cycling Coalition advocates wider bridge

If a 6th Street multi-use bridge ever comes into fruition, the Comox… Continue reading

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Southern resident killer whales in B.C. waters. Research shows the population’s females are more negatively influenced by vessel traffic than males. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)
Female orcas less likely to feed in presence of vessel traffic: study

Research the southern resident population raises concerns over reproduction capacity

Metchosin Coun. Kyara Kahakauwila is stepping down as deputy mayor following controversy over her decision to travel to Mexico in December. (Black Press Media file photo)
Councillor steps down as deputy mayor of Metchosin after controversial trip to Mexico

Mayor hopeful mediation will help council get back to the business of community

(Black Press Media files)
Transport Canada not budging on enclosed deck rules, despite calls from BC Ferries union

There have been at least 23 cases of the U.K. variant detected in Canada, four of which are in B.C.

The Elk Valley Hospital is adapting to meet the needs of patients in the Elk Valley.
One in five tests in Fernie area coming back positive: doctor

Dr Ron Clark of Elk Valley Hospital said one in five tests was returning positive for COVID-19

LUSH Valley appealed to Courtenay council to help restart the Good Food Box Program for Vulnerable Citizens. File photo
Comox Valley organization hopes to restart food program

In a Monday presentation to Courtenay council, the LUSH Valley Food Action… Continue reading

Town of Comox council (from left) Alex Bissinger, Ken Grant, Nicole Minions, Mayor Russ Arnott, Stephanie McGowan, Maureen Swift and Pat McKenna. Photo by Kim Stallknecht
Comox to move forward with stormwater management decision

Northeast Comox lands have been a historical flood plain and regularly floods

Throughout December, RCMP conducted CounterAttack road checks as police worked to keep roads free of impaired drivers. (BLACK PRESS file photo)
From the “You can’t make this stuff up” file – stories from the BC CounterAttack campaign

Amusing, yes, but a reminder impaired driving affects ability to drive and to make good decisions

Most Read