Our world is spinning faster. Right now, you may be running around getting things done, swamped at work or taking care of your family and household. Daily tasks and responsibilities can easily mount and add stress.

Today is National Relaxation Day. Remember to slow down, relax and take care of yourself. It is good for your health and your ability to care of others.

“It’s important to recognize what relaxes us and to make time to do those things, even if it’s only for five minutes. Go out in nature, take in several deep breaths, put on a song. Relaxation helps the mind to focus on the present and be aware of the current reality,” explained Julie Martin, palliative arts clinician at Empath Health.

Meditation for Staff

Taking time to relax can calm and rejuvenate our staff who provides care and support for our community and organization. Our new Mindfulness Meditation program offers 15-minute quiet sessions for groups of staff at our facilities.

“Staff has responded positively to these times of quiet centering. Some comments have included, ‘It’s a great way to start the day,’ ‘It quieted my mind,’ and ‘Work can be stressful sometimes, and taking a few moments to gain inner peace can help us be better for the people we serve,’” shared Jim Andrews, director of spiritual care at Suncoast Hospice and a Mindfulness Meditation facilitator.

Palliative Arts Clinician Julie Martin and Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner Barbara Dobron at the Integrative Medicine Clinic

Palliative Arts for Caregivers and Patients

Relaxation is also needed to ease and comfort family caregivers and their loved ones who are feeling anxiety, pain or other distress of an illness. Our specially-trained palliative arts volunteers offer an array of services for Suncoast Hospice patients and families.

Martin shared, “Reiki, aromatherapy, music and our other palliative arts bring stress relief for family members and help them relax and be present with the patients. When we teach families simple tools, it empowers them to take care of themselves. We can demonstrate the breathing techniques and meditation that comes from Reiki, how music relaxes patients or leave a spritzer bottle with essential oil for relaxation.”

Palliative arts can also help increase focus with caregiving.

“These techniques help family members become more relaxed when they are engaging with staff who is providing information on giving medications, information on final preparations or other needs. When their minds and bodies are calmer, it helps them hear the information they need to hear,” Martin said.

Better sleep can be another benefit of palliative arts for caregivers.

“These techniques help with sleep deprivation. Good quality sleep is really important when you are under stress. Some family members have had 15-minute Reiki sessions in our Integrative Medicine Clinic. Afterwards, when we bring them back in the moment, they say they feel like they have had several hours of sleep,” she said.

Customized music playlists on iPods have helped soothe and bring joy to those in our care. Our teens use it on visits with patients and our home health aides use it while caring for patients with Alzheimer’s. Volunteers may also play instruments or recorded music during times when the aides are not visiting.

Martin explained, “Music is biological. It makes connections. Sometimes our hospice patients are feeling loneliness and disconnection and music relaxes that stress.”

Volunteers Needed

Volunteers are welcome and needed to provide palliative arts for patients and families, including:

• Reiki for our south county teams
• Aromatherapy and Reiki in our Care Centers
• Pet visits in facilities, our Care Centers or patients’ homes
• Recorded music in facilities
• Live music in facilities or our Care Centers, including guitar, keyboard, cello, harp, autoharp, angel harp, ukulele

Join Us

To get started, register for volunteer orientation by filling out our information request form or going to our calendar to select a registration date and fill out a form. For more information, call volunteer services at (727) 523-3440.

Volunteer orientation, patient and family support training and specialized training are free. Fees vary for pet certifications.

What will you do to relax today? Share it here.