What are you thankful for? Thanksgiving is the time of year when we stop to think about, not what we don’t have, but what we do have in life. For some it may just be having a roof over your head. For others, it’s having the love of a husband or wife, or a loyal friend. The very act of feeling gratefulness can be transformational. Perhaps that’s why for so many people, Thanksgiving is their favorite holiday. It’s a time to reflect and give thanks for big and small blessings
For caregivers, there are days when finding things to be thankful for can require a great deal of effort. After all, the daily challenges caregivers face are unique and nobody can truly understand the anxiety, stress and grief you face each day and must find ways to overcome.
And, yet, finding something to be thankful for can have a therapeutic impact that is hard to quantify and yet is very real. Studies have shown the act of feeling thankful can improve sleep, strengthen relationships and even help keep depression at bay. With that in mind, below are a few recommendations from professional therapists and other family caregivers to help you tune into a more “thankful” side of your daily life.
- Find one thing each day to be thankful for. It doesn’t have to be a major thing. It can be small. Maybe you’re thankful for a supportive friend. Or perhaps just thankful that you are able to put food on the table and have a warm bed to sleep in each night.
- Work towards a “half full” philosophy, rather than “half empty”. Try, when things are not going well, to think of how easily things could be much worse. In other words, look at what you have, not at what you wish you had.
- Develop a list of affirmative messages. Start collecting positive “thankful” phrases and motivational quotes. Keep them handy and pull them out and read them on days when you are feeling low. Frame them or tack them up on a bulletin board. The more you collect the better. Seeing a few good words of wisdom can ease a stressful day.
You may be surprised that by finding people, things and moments to be thankful for, it can bring some light into otherwise difficult, challenging days. Make sure, too, that you identify external sources that can be of help to you. Dementia support groups and respite care are two excellent ways caregivers can give back to themselves.
Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on the positive things and people in your life. And, while it may take some time and effort to identify it, there is always something to be thankful for. Take the time to find it, and share it with those you love.