Bring Joy to Your Week to Practice Self-Care
I recently attended a workshop on mindfulness, which is something I have been trying to incorporate into my life, but admittedly, have struggled with. There have been several research studies that prove the impact of mindfulness practices on everything from depression relief, a reduction in anxiety and the ability to manage chronic illness.
As someone who struggles with a chronic illness and who happens to have a Type A personality, I know this could have a huge benefit in my life. However, I haven’t been able to actually make room for it in my life. One thing that really stood out at the workshop, that is easy for anyone to incorporate into their lives, is finding joy. No matter how difficult life can be, there are always small things that can make us smile.
The more we look for joy, the more joy we find. This is a particularly powerful thought for caregivers who feel like they are drowning. Sometimes we get so focused on all of the to dos and downsides of caregiving and aging that we can’t find the joy. However, if you really sit down and think about it, I bet you can find some things that bring you joy. Maybe it’s your first cup of coffee. Maybe its seeing a photo of your grandchild. Maybe its your mother’s laugh. It could even be something simple like a sunny day or how clear the sky is after a rainy day.
In the seminar I attended, we each had 2-3 minutes to tell the stranger sitting next to us what brings us joy. The first thirty seconds were easy. We could all rattle off several things that bring us joy. And then, we all started to struggle. Is it because we are so used to focusing on the problems in our lives that we couldn’t see small things that bring us joy, or does it have more to do with not actually seeing the little things that bring us joy? Or, do we take the small things for granted that it doesn’t occur to us that they bring us joy?
I had no problem listing the big things that bring me joy – my husband, my two sons, my parents, brothers, sisters-in-law, nieces, aunts, uncles, cousins, roof over my head, etc. But once I listed the big things, I was stumped. I had to dig a little deeper and think, what brings me joy? I wasn’t the only one who was challenged. A lot of us struggled too because we are so busy taking care of the to dos that there isn’t time for hobbies or things that rejuvenate us. I’m sure as caregivers, you struggle with this challenge. Between running your household, possibly working and caring for your loved one, you probably aren’t taking that painting class you used to enjoy. You probably don’t get a chance to have lunch with your girlfriends often, if at all.
Can you change that? Maybe you need to reach out to your network to get caregiving help. Maybe you need to find new hobbies that can be done from home. Maybe you need to take some shortcuts so that you can squeeze in things that bring you joy.
One thing the presenter pointed out was that joy is contagious. When we were all sharing our joys, we were all smiling and nodding along. The same goes for sharing troubles. As they say, misery loves company, and when we focus on the sorrows and challenges, it brings our mood down. Of course, this isn’t to say that we should ignore our feelings or feel guilty about sadness. We need to embrace all of our feelings, no one is happy all of the time, but maybe doing things that bring joy on a regular basis can help with our overall mood.
Simple Ways for Caregivers to Find Joy
So how do you find joy? What little things can you do each day to find your joy? Here’s a short list of little joys that don’t cost money that I’m going to try to incorporate into my week – outside of nurturing my relationships with family and friends.
– Take a walk outdoors
– Listen to your favorite music
– Drink a cup of coffee outside
– Read more
– Go to the beach alone
– Visit a library or a bookstore
– Paint your finger nails
– Play more – card games, video games, etc.
– Eat outside
– Make plans with a friend
– Read a magazine
– Watch a silly video
– Call a friend
Do you have little joys that you can incorporate into your life? How does bringing little joys into your life make you feel?