Replacing Caregiver Stress with Joy Through Intentional Gratitude

Focus on gratitude to help deal with family caregiver stress.

Our facial expressions expose so much to those around us, and when you’re feeling an abnormal quantity of stress, well-meaning family members will surely pick up on it, possibly encouraging you to simply, “Cheer up, buttercup!” In reality, of course, it will require far more than a few words to turn our mood around.

Nonetheless, new research does support the concept of positive thinking as a way to minimize degrees of depression and anxiety which may occur when we’re overloaded with stress – something crucial for busy family caregivers to take to heart to minimize the potential for burnout.

Judith Moskowitz, head psychologist in the study who subsequently established a program to combat the downward spiral of emotions so frequent in individuals providing care for a family member, explains, “We’re not saying don’t be sad or upset about what’s going on. But we know people can experience positive emotions alongside that negative emotion, and that positive emotion can help them cope better.”

The key techniques in her program include the following:

  • Keep a journal of things for which you’re thankful – even the small things.
  • Recognize at least one happy occurrence each day.
  • Talk about that occurrence with your family and friends on social networks.
  • Identify one new milestone every day, and keep an eye on your progress in achieving it.
  • Identify one of your strengths and think about how you’re applying that skill.
  • Undertake one daily simple act of kindness for another person.
  • Think about a negative occurrence, and then discover a way to evaluate it in an optimistic light.
  • Engage in focused breathing and mindfulness to restore a sense of calm.

For those providing care for a senior loved one with dementia, the need to focus on positives can be much more vital to overall wellbeing. Family caregivers who participated in a recent 5-week study in which the effectiveness of these coping skills were examined reported a reduction in depression scores of 16%, and a decrease in anxiety of 14%.

Along with the strategies above, it’s crucial for family caregivers to avoid isolating themselves and attempting to manage their caregiving duties alone, which can very quickly lead to caregiver burnout along with other serious health risks. Working with a professional in-home care agency, like CareWorks Health Services, is the perfect strategy to obtaining a healthier life balance –for family caregivers as well as the older adults in their care.

Life is stressful; however, we are able to help! Contact CareWorks Health Services, the senior care Orange County leaders, for the trusted home care services that allow you a chance to concentrate on self-care and high-quality time with those you love. Give us a call today at (949) 859-4700 and let us know how we can help meet your senior loved one’s needs.