Stepping Away From Caregiving Challenges To Focus On The Positives
As you know, my main focus is to provide resources and tips for caregivers new and old. Many times, I focus on finding solutions to caregiving challenges or helping caregivers find ways to care for themselves. While caregiving can be challenging, there are many positives that we sometimes overlook when we are deep in the trenches.
While it may be hard to focus on the positives of caregiving when there are so many challenges, having a positive attitude is actually good for you. Positive thinking can increase your life span, lower rates of depression and improve you overall health and well-being. With so many benefits, it definitely pays off to focus on the positives.
From my own personal experience, I can attest to the benefits of being a positive person. I have always been a positive person but it wasn’t until my autoimmune diagnosis that I realized how much it can benefit me. Living with chronic pain is definitely no walk in the park, however, I choose to focus on the positives in my life rather than focusing on the negative, which really can’t be changed much. I am thankful for what my body does today. I am thankful for the fact that I am able to enjoy my family and friends. I am happy with the life I have today.
Sure, if there was a cure for my illness, I’d be first in line. I’ve even joked that I’d line up for a body transplant in a heartbeat. But, since those aren’t real options (right now), I choose to be happy with what I have now and enjoy the things I can do. No one knows what the future holds so we might as well be content in the life we live and do what we can to make it our best life.
I’m not going to pretend I don’t have bad days. I allow myself time to feel angry about my health issues, particularly since I spent so many years focusing on health and fitness, but then I move on. I can lie around feeling sorry for myself and miss out on life, or I can do what my body allows me to do and enjoy my family and friends.
You may have times where you feel stuck, particularly if you are caregiving for someone who isn’t appreciative or who you have a complicated relationship with. Everyone has bad days. It is OK to be sad or angry and miss the life you used to have; however, it is in your best interest to move out of that space.
The Best Parts of Caregiving – A Focus on the Positive
If you are so in the trenches that you can’t name any positive aspects of caregiving, here are some positives of caregiving that every caregiver experiences.
- You are doing a good thing for someone you love. No matter how challenging, you are showing your love by caring for someone you love.
- You have learned how strong you really are. Maybe you always knew how strong you are, but if you didn’t, caregiving has definitely shown you how strong you are and how much you can accomplish through sheer will.
- You will be grateful for this time one day. You may feel like you’ve been caregiving forever and you may be so tired of always giving, but one day, you will look back on this time and be thankful that you had the opportunity to be with your loved one when he/she needed you most.
- You have the opportunity to show how much you love your caree. Whether you are a caregiver to an aging parent or a spouse, you are given the unique opportunity to actually demonstrate how much you love that person.
- You are learning to live in the moment and appreciate your health. Watching someone struggle with their health can help you to appreciate your own health. If you haven’t properly cared for your health in the past, it may inspire you to care for your health.
- You are practicing patience and understanding every day. Being a caregiver requires patience and understanding. If those weren’t your best qualities in the past, they probably are now!
- You are sharing your love with your caree and you have the opportunity to learn from him/her before it is too late. Often, we feel like we’ve got lots of time to spend with our loved ones. When you are a caregiver, you know that your time is coming to a close so you can soak up those moments with your loved one.
- You are learning how resilient you really are. No matter how hard your caregiving days are, you get back up and do it again, and again, and again. You are resilient and strong and loving.
- You get to repay your loved one for their love and support. If you are a caregiver to aging parents, you get to repay them for the 18+ years they cared for you.
- You are gaining new perspective on the preciousness of life and health. You may have taken life, love and health for granted in the past but now you know how valuable those things really are to you.
I’m sure you can come up with even more positives of caregiving once you stop to think about it. You may want to consider keeping a small gratitude journal where you write down the things you are thankful for at the end of the day. Even on your worst day, you can be thankful that you woke up to face another day.