Staying positive in a caregiving environment does not always come easy. When you are taking care of an older loved one, there is a lot of pressure that comes along with helping an adult. If your older loved one has Alzheimer’s or dementia, it can be incredibly frustrating at times. When you let these emotions take over, it can lead to caregiver burnout. If you emit negativity, it can also affect the people around you. If someone you care for is not at 100% health, responding in a mean or negative way can have serious implications. Luckily, there are various ways to combat your nerves and keep your emotions in check.
Do Not Place Blame
It can be so easy to blame someone else for all your problems. I was late to the meeting because Deborah talked too long. I didn’t get my bagel because the lady in front of me bought the last one! If you take the blame for your situations, you will emit less anger all around. I was late because I talked to Deborah for too long. I did not get a bagel because I didn’t get to the café earlier. Not placing blame can be applied to caregiving as well.
It is not your loved one’s fault that they can no longer care for themselves. It is also not your fault if the person you care for has a disease that worsens. You do not have to accept the blame, but do not just place it on others. There is not always a positive outcome with caregiving. Sometimes, things happen and there is no one to blame.
Actively Try for Positivity
Caregiving can highlight some adverse situations and set a pessimistic view of the future – if you let it! Our brains were formed to be made aware of danger. According to Sage Journals, our brain chemistry is a natural defense mechanism to put us out of harm’s way. If we perceive something as bad, negative, scary, it is registered as harmful, and this perception can actually protect us in times of danger. It is completely natural to see things in a negative light, but you have the choice of how to react to them.
If you actively train yourself to respond to negative thoughts in a positive way, you can essentially re-train your brain. There are various ways to push yourself into being more optimistic that will spill into other facets of your life; caregiving, work, cooking. Being optimistic is not a trick, it is a lifestyle. A lifestyle that can lead to success and happiness. It does not happen overnight and you have to constantly work at being a more optimistic person in every aspect. This is especially true for trying to be positive with caregiving. How do you attempt to be optimistic?
- Positive Affirmations – Physically repeat to yourself complimentary truths out loud, such as, “I am a good caregiver.”
- Journal Gratitude – Daily write down things that you are grateful for, or that made you happy. When you reflect on them later, smiles will surface.
- Meditate or Pray – Go to a quiet room, close your eyes, clear your mind, focus on your breathing, then send out positive thoughts into the universe.
- Be Silly – Laughter and smiling can help the brain release endorphins, so sing a silly song or laugh out loud.
- Focus on Solutions – If you shift your focus away from the problem and adjust your point of view, you would be surprised at what you can accomplish.
- Be Your Cheerleader – Think to yourself, you can achieve it, and congratulate yourself when you do succeed.
- Nurture a Happy Body – Eat healthily - but do not restrict yourself, exercise regularly, and get plenty of sleep. You will look better, feel better, and be better.
These are just a few ways to be more optimistic. Staying positive in caregiving is a constant effort, that will get easier with every attempt. If you avoid adverse reactions and actively try for positivity, it will train you to have happier outcomes. Everyone deserves to be happy!
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