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Gratitude and Positivity Can Inspire Caregiver Self-Care

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November is a month to celebrate YOU, a family caregiver. Whether you’re caring for an aging parent, grandparent or loved one, we think you’re a SUPERHERO! Our partner, Caregiver Action Network, organizes National Caregivers Month every November and it’s always a month dedicated to helping you handle everything caregiving can throw at you with confidence and grace.

Did you know there are more than 43.5 million Americans who provide regular, unpaid care for an older adult? Many family caregivers are still working and caring for their own families too. Family caregivers have a lot on their minds: managing medications and doctor’s appointments, final years planning, long term care insurance, healthy aging, home safety, hospice….

It’s no wonder caregivers can get burned out and feel like they’ve lost themselves along the caregiving journey. But, you cannot pour from an empty cup. It’s critical to your success as a caregiver and personal well-being to slow down and take care of yourself. It is not selfish to make yourself a priority.

Making yourself a priority starts with you. These eight tips to be a more optimistic caregiver are a great starting point to putting yourself first, focusing on self-care, so you’re not pouring from an empty cup.

  1. Look for the good. Try to keep negative thoughts at bay and make a daily list of what’s good in your life and why you’re grateful. This positive habit will help retrain your brain for positive thinking.
  2. Speak kindly to yourself. Remember what you learned as a child and apply it to your thinking, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”
  3. Lean on positive people. Surround yourself with positive people, not those who take energy from you. These supportive people can be local friends and family and even online support communities like the Caregiver Stress Relief Community.
  4. Find happiness through health. A healthy diet and exercise can improve your mood and positivity.
  5. Remember you are doing your best. Even if you feel like you failed at a task or the whole day, you’re still there and supporting your loved one.
  6. Laugh to lighten your load. Laughter relieves stress and tension and helps you stay positive.
  7. Keep it simple. Don’t set yourself up to fail with unrealistic goals. Sometimes doing the basics is all that’s needed.
  8. Take time for yourself. A few minutes here and there, lunch with a friend, respite from a friend or professional caregiver can go a long way to helping you feel recharged.

Sometimes inspiration and gratitude are the antidotes needed to rid negative thoughts. Author Annette Bridges said, “Gratitude helps us to see what is there instead of what isn’t.” Although caregiving can be challenging, let gratitude and kind words lift you up. These family caregivers in the Caregiver Stress Relief Community may have said it best when asked to fill in the blank: The best part of being a caregiver is __________.

“Having my husband home with me. Every day is a gift.” – Kate

“Caring for my wife during recovery makes our love grow even stronger and deeper.” – Greg

“That my mother trusts me to do right by her. It’s daunting at times, but she’s so worth it.” – Heidi

“The extra time you have with the one you love.” - Tracey

To continue taking care of your loved ones, remind yourself you do not have to do it alone. There are numerous resources and communities available you can utilize for support and inspiration. Below are a few:

  • Caregiver Stress Relief Community is an online caregiver community providing resources and connecting caregivers to one another to lift each other up.
  • Caregiver Action Network Family Caregiver Toolbox is filled with videos, articles and FAQs on caregiver topics ranging from Alzheimer’s, finding respite care and support groups to communicating with doctors or aging parents.
  • 10 Tips for Healthy Aging includes suggestions that can be implemented at any age and are the groundwork for healthy aging.
  • 10 Tips for Family Caregivers is a simple illustration with organization tips and self-care reminders to help make caregiving easier on you physically, mentally and emotionally.

Be kind to yourself and find ways throughout the year to celebrate your successes and surround yourself with positive inspirations to recharge. Don’t forget the care you’re providing is making a positive impact on your loved one and you deserve to feel good about it.

Last revised: October 30, 2018

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