Studies have found that gratitude and positive emotions are closely connected to our health and wellness.
Gratitude can help reduce anxiety and allows you to focus on the things that matter most.
It can help us better cope with stressful, negative and frustrating situations.
In a recent blog post, Terri Weber, a University of Kentucky Elder Care Specialist, wrote about “moving Forward wit Gratitude.
She wrote about Dr. Robert Emmons, Professor of Psychology at UC Davis, who defines gratitude as “the ability to recognize the goodness in your life, which is due to your surroundings as well as the actions of another person or a group of people.”
Dr. Emmons found that if we practice gratitude daily, we can:
Improve physical and mental well-being
Improve focus and cognitive flexibility
Strengthen our resilience
This all translates to being a better caregiver.
We tend to think too much about what goes wrong, and we don’t spend enough time on what goes right, wrote Weber. Practicing gratitude daily will help you notice and appreciate the good things that happen, resulting in stability and a sense of calm.
At the beginning or end of each day, write down positive thoughts and what you’re grateful for. There are some days when it will be hard, but with practice, it will get easier.
Sharing your gratitude and letting someone know how much you appreciate them can strengthen your relationship.
Dr. Martin Seligman, Director of the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania, developed this idea. Think of someone you care about and write them a letter of gratitude. Note all the things they did for you when they were able. If possible, hand deliver it and read it aloud to them. You’ll not only make their day, but yours as well.
Mindfulness is a state of being conscious and aware of what is happening in the present moment. Mindfulness is not avoiding or neglecting things that need to be done. Instead, it is drawing our attention to what is happening now.
We can recondition our brains to replace negative self-defeating thoughts with new, positive thoughts. Take a negative thought, flip it around and look for the good in it. It’s sometimes easier said than done, but by practicing this, the negative thought pattern will change over time.
You will not always look to your caregiving tasks with thankfulness or gratitude. Caregiving can have negative psychological, social, physical and financial consequences which in turn can affect a caregiver’s health and ability to provide care to their loved one.
But when things get challenging, you can always turn to the power of gratitude to let go of some of those negative feelings, wrote Weber.
If you keep your sense of gratitude going, you will have a reservoir of gratitude. When things do go wrong (and you know they will), take a deep breath, put things in perspective and remember to be grateful that you can always learn something new from a difficult situation.