As a family caregiver, you are often faced with situations that seem hopeless and sometimes sadness, regret and anger start to boil up inside. When you start to feel powerless and hope seems out of reach, gratitude goes a long way. Of all the things you can do to feel better, this one is immediate, requires no special equipment – and it’s free.
Michael McCollough of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, and Robert Emmons of the University of California at Davis, conducted a study on gratitude. They formed three groups who each kept diaries: one group wrote about anything they wanted about the day; the second group wrote about unpleasant things that happened that day; and the third group wrote about things for which they were grateful. The results showed the daily gratitude exercises resulted in higher reported levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, optimism and energy. Those in the gratitude group experienced less depression and stress, were more likely to help others, exercised more regularly, and made greater progress toward achieving personal goals.
Asking yourself, “For what am I grateful?”, can quickly get you back on track and be better able to cope.
- Start a gratitude journal. Every day, write at least five things you are grateful for on that day.
- Appreciation game: At the end of the day, take a few minutes to tell your loved one(s) what you appreciate about them. Have them do the same for you.
- During the tough times, when it can be hard to find gratitude, set a timer for 2–3 minutes and do a “gratitude blast.” In that length of time, write down everything you can think of that you are grateful for.
Honour your courage, strength and love. Find gratitude. I am grateful for building a stronger and more loving relationship with my husband. I’ll admit, I would have preferred I didn’t have to learn those lessons for many years. I could make the best of the situation and be grateful for learning to accept reality, never losing hope, and loving like I never knew I could.