A Must For Caregivers, But How?
As a caregiver, one of my biggest challenges was staying positive - dealing with the day-to-day issues, in addition to maintaining some hope and optimism.
During that time, I attended a four-week workshop at the local Senior Center offered by Stanford Health Center. One topic was staying positive. The leader discussed the power of positive thinking, forgiveness, and gratitude. I wanted to share those ideas with you.
There is a large body of research that shows positive thinking has an impact on things that affect a person’s life - like health and enhancing the ability to build new skills. When one experiences a negative emotion like fear, anger, or overwhelming stress, the brain shuts down to focus on the emotion.
So, how can a person increase optimism in life? Three proven ways are writing, doing pleasant activities, and meditating. Keeping a happiness journal can result in a better mood and health. Taking moments each day for enjoyable things is important - even if it’s a cup of tea. Meditating for as little as three months has shown numerous positive results.
I found two helpful websites, but there are many.
Positive Thinking - “Is your glass half-empty or half-full? How you answer this age-old question may reflect your outlook on life.”
How to Retrain Your Brain for Success - “The way you communicate with yourself has a major impact on how you feel about yourself and others.”
Anger, frustration, and resentment are common feelings for caregivers. Studies have shown that the time spent trying to forgive someone can reduce levels of depression and anxiety, be it yourself, your ailing loved one, or your family.
Forgiveness is a gift to the self - it doesn’t mean forgetting - and it’s a skill that may take years to master.
Two of the many helpful websites are the following.
How To Get Better At Forgiving - “It is widely misunderstood.”
Forgiveness - “The hardest person to forgive is yourself.”
A few thoughts about practicing gratitude are:
Being grateful for the past or the future
Rather than naming people, identify daily objects, gadgets, and tools to be grateful for
people might have to train themselves to be thankful for things
Two useful websites, but again there are many.
How the Positive Effects of Gratitude Reduce Caregiver Stress - “Gratitude is about noticing that there are always some positive things in your life, no matter how dark things may seem.”
How To Practice Gratitude - “To cultivate this attitude, break it down into two stages: affirmation of goodness and figuring out where that goodness comes from. Only then can we identify specific actions to include gratitude in our routines.”
Experience tells me that sometimes, positive thinking, forgiveness, and gratitude aren’t enough. Sometimes the burden is too heavy, but they, along with other habits, may make the journey a bit easier.
Thanks for reading Aging Well News! Subscribe for free to receive new posts.
If you want to contribute to my work, consider donating to the Alzheimer's Association. This link takes you to their website. The choice is yours.