Caring For Our Caregivers

Caregivers or carers are unpaid or paid members of a person’s social network who helps them with activities of daily living. This includes nurses, workers in nursing homes, volunteers as well as family members of those who require care. Caregiving is most commonly used to address impairments related to old age, disability, a disease, or a mental disorder. The people receiving such care may be children, elderly people, or the chronically ill.

Caregivers are some of the most under-appreciated people around. As a direct result of their beautiful and beneficial but stressful (and not always voluntarily chosen) work environment, caregivers face high levels of stress and anxiety on a daily basis. Over time, this continued stress can lead to a number of physical, mental and emotional issues for caregivers that may reduce quality of life and decrease productivity.

To prevent complications from work-related stress and anxiety, caregivers must find ways to relax and regroup during their downtime. Fortunately, research has shown that Reiki sessions can produce positive results among caregivers dealing with chronic stress.

Caregiving and Stress

According to the National Institutes of Health, stress is very common among caregivers in all areas of the field. Typical sources of stress on-the-job include patient care, responsibilities, making decisions and dealing with changes. Most caregivers also deal with difficult interpersonal relationships, long work hours, emotional stress related to dealing with human suffering and frequent physical labor.

Because of all of these issues, caregivers are at high risk for a condition known as “burnout syndrome.” Some of the symptoms of burnout syndrome include reduced personal accomplishment, de-personalisation and emotional exhaustion. In many cases, caregivers suffering from burnout syndrome will experience problems in both their personal and professional lives, as it is difficult to separate these two domains completely.

About Reiki

Reiki is a Japanese stress reduction technique that may help caregivers who are already dealing with burnout syndrome, as well as those who are dealing with only mild stress. This technique can be performed in a Reiki practitioner’s office and is entirely non-invasive.

Some of the benefits of Reiki for caregivers include

  • Reduce anxiety and stress
    Reiki sessions can induce relaxation in the client, thus reducing stress and anxiety. Since stress and anxiety are so common among caregivers, this effect can be very beneficial, especially among caregivers with burnout syndrome.
  • Bring about a sense of balance
    Many Reiki clients report feeling more balanced, both physically and emotionally, after participating in Reiki sessions.
  • Help reduce pain
    Because of the intensive physical labor that is often involved in caregiving, many caregivers suffer from aches and pains. Reiki sessions may reduce sensations of pain, thus improving caregivers’ overall sense of well-being.
  • Boost the immune system
    Caregivers often work long, odd hours, which can be hard on the body. Unfortunately, caregivers are frequently exposed to bacteria, viruses and other pathogens while working with patients. Reports indicate that Reiki may potentially boost the immune system, due to a relaxation response, which may prevent caregivers from getting sick as often or being vulnerable to infections.
  • Provides a sense of control
    Although professional caregivers often have the opportunity to assume leadership positions, they often feel as though their life is not entirely in their own control. They may not be able to set their own schedules, decide what tasks they will take on or make other important decisions that impact their lives on a daily basis. When a caregiver engages in Reiki sessions, however, he or she is taking control over his or her own body, mind and health. This can restore a sense of control, thus improving self-esteem and quality of life.

Relevant Research

A recent research study explored the relationship between Reiki and caregivers suffering from burnout syndrome. During the study, researchers examined the effects of Reiki sessions on certain physical indicators, such as blood pressure, α-amylase and secretory immunoglobulin A.

The study included eighteen caregivers, all of whom were diagnosed with burnout syndrome. When the study was complete, researchers analyzed the results and determined that nurses who participated in regular Reiki sessions experienced a significant improvement in diastolic blood pressure and secretory immunoglobulin A.

Implications

Based on both research and anecdotal reports, it seems that Reiki could be beneficial to caregivers in multiple ways.

Caregivers who are already stressed and dealing with burnout syndrome may experience a reduction in anxiety after participating in Reiki sessions, which may help them to deal with their stress more effectively and enjoy a richer, more productive life.

Likewise, even caregivers who are only mildly stressed and/or experiencing no complications of work-related stress may experience benefits from this treatment. In fact, it is possible that caregivers who engage in Reiki before they begin experiencing the symptoms of burnout syndrome may be able prevent this syndrome from ever occurring and/or reduce its severity. Furthermore, Reiki has been shown to produce other benefits, including an increased sense of balance, improved feelings of control and more, all of which may be helpful to individuals working in the field of caregiving.

Nonetheless, caregivers should keep in mind that Reiki is not the only effective method of reducing stress. Caregivers can also lower their stress levels and reduce anxiety by spending time with friends and families, engaging in regular exercise and participating in enjoyable activities and hobbies.

For best results, caregivers should combine Reiki sessions with other methods of relaxation. Caregivers who are experiencing severe anxiety, depression or other such symptoms should also talk to a qualified physician and/or licensed therapist.


Sources :

Asian Caregivers Have Poorer Quality of Life Than Western Counterparts: https://specialty.mims.com/topic/asian-caregivers-have-poorer-qol-than-western-counterparts
Gallob, Robin. “Reiki: a Supportive Therapy in Nursing Practice and Self-Care for Nurses.” The Journal of the New York State Nurses' Association, vol. 34, no. 1, 2003, pp. 9–13.: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14639776