Research on stress often involves family caregivers. No matter how much you love the person you care for, taking care of an ailing relative can be stressful!
To offset the stress, consider the power of positive thinking. Studies show that people who “seed their lives” with moments of positive emotions are more resilient in the face of challenges. This doesn’t mean ignoring or denying the negatives. Instead, it means taking time to notice the “micro-moments” of things that are going well.
So, does this mean you should go to more movies or eat more chocolate? Not really. Researchers focusing on “positive psychology”—the study of what’s working well—find that more lasting happiness comes from focusing your attention on activities that feel meaningful to you. The good news is that a shift in attitude or attention costs nothing and generally does not add inches to your waistline!
For example, despite the hardships, family members also mention the following rewards in caregiving:
- “I am grateful to be able to give back.”
- “I now feel much closer to my mother.”
- “I’ve become more patient, more compassionate.”
- “I’ve learned to appreciate the little joys and triumphs in each day.”
- “I’m proud of the new skills I’ve learned. I had no idea I could do these things.”
- “This has given me a chance to reexamine my priorities and be sure I am living the life I want to lead.”
If you are looking for ways to feel stronger and less stressed, perhaps it’s time to think in terms of the rewards in what you are doing. By accentuating those activities that have meaning for you, you can find more enjoyment in your caregiving and become a better, more resilient caregiver in the process.