Study Finds Transcendental Meditation Reduces Stress In Family Caregivers

Caring for a chronically ill relative or friend often causes the caregiver to experience stressful psychological, behavioral, and physiological effects that can contribute to impaired immune function, coronary heart disease, and a higher mortality rate.

A study involving 23 caregivers found that over a two-month period, practice of the transcendental meditation (TM) technique helped to reduce the stress associated with caregiving.

This pilot study, published in International Archives of Nursing and Health Care, found improvements in perceived stress, spiritual well-being, and mood.

In addition, qualitative evaluation of the participants suggested improvements in energy level, feelings of calmness and resilience, and reduced anxiety and other psychosocial stress.

“The vast majority of caregivers today are family members and nonprofessionals,” said Sanford Nidich, EdD, lead author of the study and professor of education at Maharishi University of Management. “Based on prior research studies, it appeared that the transcendental meditation program may improve the psychological health of this highly stressed population.”

Nonprofessional caregivers often aren’t aware of the importance of also taking care of their own well-being; as a result, they can quickly become overwhelmed by the situation and become less patient and more irritable.

The participants in the study were satisfied overall with their practice of the technique and its benefits, including less psychological distress.

“I started the transcendental meditation technique two years ago,” said one participant who was caring for her 93-year-old mother. “I found it pretty easy, and it made a lot of difference to me. I just felt calmer. I was much kinder to my mother; I didn’t get as frustrated with her….” She went on to say that TM helped her feel more balanced.

Another participant experienced extreme anxiety taking care of her husband. 

“I ended up in the emergency room three times, and each time it was diagnosed as anxiety…,” she said. “They were panic attacks that were so much like heart attacks. I know that it was due to the stress of my caregiving role. I worried about him constantly…. TM helped me by just calming my thoughts…. Since I have been doing TM, I haven’t had one anxiety attack…. This was the biggest benefit. I noticed less anxiety straight away.”

This article was adapted from information provided by Maharishi University of Management.

ONLINE RESOURCE has information on a wide variety of caregiving-related topics including:

  • Tips to get your family to help with caregiving
  • Tips for getting up after a fall
  • Safety tips for caregivers
  • Incorporating exercise into your day as a caregiver
  • Caregiver support groups
  • And much more.
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