Helping Family Caregivers Practice Gratitude Each Day

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Use the following steps to help you practice gratitude every day.

Having a grateful mindset is good for overall health. Research has shown that expressing thanks can improve a person’s mood, sleep, and even immunity. It can also decrease anxiety and risk of chronic illness. Still, with all of the responsibilities that family caregivers have on their plates, it’s often a challenge to slow down and reflect on what they’re grateful for. As we all gather to give thanks this season, our expert providers of help at home in St. Charles and the surrounding areas have compiled the following tips to help you practice gratitude every day.

  1. Keep a journal. Writing helps us learn, remember, and reflect. Keeping a gratitude journal can help you capture the moments of thankfulness and joy that crop up as you move throughout your day. Perhaps it’s a smile from a stranger or an enjoyable conversation over morning coffee with Dad. Maybe you’re just grateful to get to the end of a long, stressful day. Whatever the case, write it down and reflect on those positive feelings.
  2. Reimagine your challenges. Family caregivers face countless challenges between juggling their caregiving duties, work commitments, and family life. It is easy to get down about the roadblocks that life throws your way. However, gratitude isn’t just about being thankful for our positive experiences. Think about your difficult situations. What have you learned from them? Has your capacity for compassion grown by caring for your loved one? Are you able to be more patient in other areas of your life now? There are countless ways our challenges help us to grow, and taking a moment to be grateful for that growth can help you feel better during difficult times.
  3. Spend more time with loved ones. Being around the people we love brings us joy, and joy is perhaps the best expression of gratitude there is. In times where you are struggling to feel gratitude, call up a friend for a chat, have dinner with your spouse, or take Mom to a favorite museum. During these moments, practice gratitude. Tell your friend how grateful you are for their friendship. Express to your spouse how much you appreciate their support. Tell your mom how fondly you remember family outings while growing up. This practice during times of joy can help you access the feeling of gratitude later when you find yourself struggling.
  4. Express gratitude. We often feel gratitude, but we don’t always express it. A recent experiment showed that people who wrote a letter of thanks to a person in their lives saw an increase in happiness of 2-4%. Those who actually called the person to express their thanks saw a happiness boost of 4-19%. In both cases, personal happiness increased, so consider reaching out to someone you’re grateful for and let them know!
  5. Boost your overall mood. Exercise and activity are excellent mood boosters. Moving your body or even simply participating in a hobby that brings you joy are great ways to increase gratitude. Additionally, mindful meditation has been shown to effectively rewire the brain to be more grateful and increase overall feelings of happiness. There are plenty of meditation apps if you’d like to give it a try or you can search for local meditation classes as well.
  6. Be thankful for everything. Gratitude can come in all shapes and sizes. Sure, you’re grateful for the big stuff — a loving spouse, a rewarding job, Mom getting a clean bill of health from her doctor, etc. But when we practice appreciating everything, even the small stuff, we can build our overall feeling of gratitude. Notice a particularly beautiful sunset. Take joy in a comforting cup of tea. Did the weather turn out better than you expected for an event? How awesome is that? Appreciating the little things in life helps us build an attitude of gratitude that can last all year long.

If you’re struggling to practice gratitude as a family caregiver, that is normal. It may mean that you need to take some time for yourself. Visiting Care Giving Services’ experts in help at home in St. Charles and the surrounding areas offers professional in-home care and respite services that allow you to engage in whatever form of self-care you need, while ensuring your loved one has the care and attention they need as well. Contact our team today at (636) 493-9058 to learn how we can help your family.