Easy ways for caregivers to practice gratitude
Giving thanks doesn’t have to be reserved for one day a year. Practicing gratitude can help us see things in a new light when times are tough, as they have been for many people this year.
The thing to be grateful for when it comes to gratitude is that it doesn’t cost anything, it’s simple, and it benefits you in more ways than one.
See how easy that was? Here are some ways to get started on being thankful after the Thanksgiving holiday.
Build a weekly gratitude practice
Practicing gratitude through journaling or meditating can help you cultivate a routine and keep those good benefits coming.
When it comes to journaling, there are so many prompts out there- you just have to find one that works for you. You could write down whatever comes to mind in list format when thinking of what you’re grateful for.
Or, you could answer a question such as “what’s a past relationship that’s helped you?” or write about an opportunity for positive change that presented itself.
You could even turn tough life situations into a more positive light- “what obstacle did I overcome that I appreciate about myself”
Use this prompt from Positive Psychology if you’re feeling stuck or don’t know where to start in being grateful. For example, “I’m grateful for these things I hear/see/smell/touch…”
If you’re not a morning person, such as myself, you could save the journaling for later and simply meditate on thoughts of gratitude after you wake up.
There are countless meditation apps out there to guide you, including Headspace, which has meditation courses dedicated to gratitude.
According to the university science center Greater Good in Action, “studies suggest that writing in a gratitude journal three times per week might actually have a greater impact on our happiness than journaling every day.”
How to be grateful during hard times
A year like 2020 can really test our resolve to appreciate what we have in life. It’s hard to see the good in life when it’s not safe to do the usual things that bring us joy.
Now might be the best time to tap into expert advice, spiritual or otherwise, and buy a book that you might be embarrassed to be seen with at the bookstore. Though, self-help books might be more accepted nowadays than ever before, with a society that’s becoming more and more focused on self-improvement.
You’ve probably heard of The Secret, a bestselling book that first debuted as a movie in 2006. If you haven’t, the main premise goes like this: the energy of thoughts and actions we put out into the world is the energy we get back. This is also known as the Law of Attraction.
A main focus of the book is turning what’s seen as unlucky or unfavorable situations into positive outcomes.
Of course, this is just a belief and doesn’t touch on why many people in the world suffer so much, while other less deserving people are doing just fine. But if you use the book to bring about positive change in your life and those around you, then there’s no need to go down that rabbit hole for now.
Following advice from the experts right now can help you approach life differently, and to shift your perspective when nothing else can.
The writer and personal development guru Polly Campbell wrote about gratitude for Psychology Today. She explains that gratitude “is a coping strategy and it helps us survive when aren’t sure if we can.”
When things seem to be at their worst, she recommends doing something you’re good at, even if it’s a household chore like folding laundry. This can give you a sense of accomplishment and control and make you feel capable, at least for the moment.
Focus more on self-care to practice gratitude
Caregivers have a lot on their plate. You may be juggling a full-time job and caring for an older parent as well as younger children, and wondering how you’re going to have enough energy for the rest of the week.
It’s hard to be grateful when you’re exhausted, not getting enough exercise, and/or not eating a healthy diet. All of these lifestyle habits and choices share a direct link to a person’s mood and outlook.
If it’s at all possible, try to arrange for a family member or friend to step into your responsibilities for a day. Respite care or a semi-regular caregiver can help with this as well. This can give you a chance to go for a walk outside or do something else good for your health.
Practicing gratitude becomes easier when you have the time and space to do it. And it could become part of your health routine once you see the benefits in action.
According to Positive Psychology, gratitude can have a tangible impact on your health. “People who exhibit gratitude report fewer aches and pains, a general feeling of health, more regular exercise, and more frequent checkups with their doctor than those who don’t.”
Also, practicing gratitude can give the person, “an advantage in overcoming trauma and enhanced resilience, helping them to bounce back from highly stressful situations.”
I can feel my neck aches going away just thinking about how grateful I am to have a chiropractor.
A few resources for caregivers
- Visit the Caregiver Stress Community on Facebook
- Check out SeaCare’s guide on Ways to Avoid Caregiver Burnout
- Goodreads list of best spiritual books, “books that change the way you view life,” and best motivational/inspirational books
If you or a loved one you know are looking for additional support during this time and are interested in scheduling a free in-home assessment, please contact SeaCare In-Home Care Services today! A SeaCare family member is standing by. 425-559-4339.