What are you grateful for today? When that question is asked to many people, they find it hard to list several things that they’re grateful for. But most people are grateful that they have a measure of good health, a caring family, enough food, shelter, and much more.
Caregivers, on the other hand, are grateful because they have the strength to help others. They use their energy, time, and finances to ensure that their loved one is really taken care of. However, caregivers go through a lot of stress every day. It’s only by boosting their own emotional well-being, cultivating optimism, or maintaining a positive outlook that one can move past the struggles and continue to provide good care to the loved one.
The following tips can help you create a positive attitude and build resiliency when caregiving.
10 Best Ways to be an Optimistic Caregiver
1. Turn Off Negative Dialogue in Your Head
Sometimes, the mind can be overwhelmed with negative thoughts to the point of saying many things that one can’t say to someone else. But turning off negative dialogue in the head can help to harness optimism. For instance, you might feel your efforts are not yielding positive results, but instead of saying this will never work, you can convince yourself to try again but in a different way.
2. Seek Support from Positive People
At times well-meaning friends and family members may tell you to stay positive. But they don’t know what you’re feeling inside you. Others might regularly urge you to take care of yourself, which might add more items to your ever-growing to-do list. These people don’t know that although their advice is always well-meant, it’s not practical.
On the other hand, people who intend to add positivity to you will help you consider the bright side of things. They may set aside their time to be with you and readily step in so that you can rest, run errands or take a vacation. Such people will motivate and inspire you to continue serving as a caregiver.
3. Take Care of Your Physical Health
Generally, poor physical health interferes with mental and emotional well-being. Therefore it’s good to look after your own physical well-being whenever you feel that caregiving duties are stressing you. You can eat a nutritious diet, exercise regularly, and get plenty of sleep. Taking steps to stay healthy physically can boost your emotional well-being and help you to be more optimistic and realistic.
However, the situation might sometimes escalate, especially when caring for an aged loved one. You may consider hiring a professional caregiver to prevent burnout. The family might consider seeking home care assistance to help at home while you go to work, go on vacation, run errands, or take a nap.
4. Applaud Yourself
Caregivers rarely get praise and credit as often as they should be. Others may appreciate the help they’re offering to the senior loved ones, but they hardly get praised as often as they deserve.
But family caregivers who do their best can always applaud their own hard work in order to feel better emotionally. Other than acknowledging your commitment and dedication to caregiving, you can treat yourself now and then. This may give you a sense of accomplishment and purpose.
5. Absolve Yourself from the Need to be Perfect
Some caregivers suffocate themselves with guilt. However, guilt is counterproductive. You can’t be more optimistic and realistic when you feel you’re carrying a burden from your thought process. Guilt arises when you can’t do everything that you planned to do.
Possibly you would have wanted to take care of your aged parents yourself but can’t do it because you’re working or can’t afford to pay for a professional caregiver. Appreciating yourself and the much you can do at the moment will help you maintain a positive attitude towards caregiving and eliminate guilt. In fact, adjusting your expectations and embracing the reality that you can’t fix your loved ones with a terminal diagnosis, but you can only try to make their lives as good as you can, which makes you happy.
6. Make Time to Unwind
Working as a family caregiver can be stressful, especially when the sick person needs around-the-clock assistance. Overwhelmed caregivers tend to be angry and resentful because they work full-time and manage their personal lives, leaving them without adequate time to engage in social activities or pursue personal goals. While you can’t eliminate stress entirely from your daily caregiving life, there are activities that you can engage in to reduce or minimize stress.
You can set aside a few minutes from caregiving to unwind. Use these times to engage in things you enjoy like painting, reading a book, taking a long bath, going for a walk outside, etc. Maintaining social support that includes your siblings, extended family members, and friends can be helpful. Others can step in as you take time off to relax or engage in less overwhelming activities that make you happy.
7. Laugh More
Laughter has a positive effect on you, such as making you feel good. It relaxes muscles, lowers stress hormones, eases anxiety, and improves mood. Associate yourself with happy people and always share humor. Engaging with people helps you enjoy a laugh which makes you feel more positive, happier, and more relaxed than when you spend your time on the phone, indoors, etc.
8. Practice Gratitude
There are many things you can think about and be grateful for in life. Thinking about them can change your attitude from focusing on the negative to being more positive about life. So take each day to reflect and show gratitude for the many blessings you’re currently enjoying. This will keep pessimistic thoughts away and encourage more positive ones. Listing down what you’re grateful for can give you something to look back and reflect on when you feel stressed.
9. Keep it Simple
Setting realistic goals for yourself and others can be helpful. Do what needs to be done every day, and don’t focus on things you can’t accomplish that day. For instance, if doing dishes, laundry, and preparing meals is the priority for that day, then stick to that. Focusing on more than you can handle might leave you feeling mentally and physically exhausted.
10. Say No to Outside Demands
Already as a caregiver, you’re giving yourself to take care of a loved one. Accepting outside demands can only add to your burden. Say no to friends who expect you to drop everything to meet up with them. Instead, help them understand that they need to be nice to you as a caregiver. They’re the ones who are supposed to drop everything and come to be with you and your loved one. However, it will be their own loss if they can’t do that.
Caregivers are at a high risk of experiencing burnout, but they need self-care. Finding something outside caregiving is vital because it can help you be more optimistic and realistic. Taking time to unwind, exercising, eating healthy, having plenty of sleep, laughing, and keeping things simple can be helpful.
So if you intend to be an optimistic caregiver, you should say no outside demands which tend to add a burden to you, practice gratitude, free yourself from any guilt, turn off negative dialogue in your mind but instead applaud yourself. This is crucial because others might only appreciate your hard work, but they won’t praise you as often as you deserve.
Share with us your experience as a caregiver. Our readers will be happy to learn from you.