The pursuit of happiness is an important aspect of being a caregiver. In a recent article, Forbes magazine gathers advice from scientific and aging experts on how a family caregiver can create joy on their journey.
“The role of family caregiver is not unlike other important roles we may play in life — bride or groom, mother or father — except for one thing: It doesn’t come wrapped in happiness. You don’t enthusiastically share with co-workers that your mom has Stage 4 lung cancer or excitedly tell neighbors that your husband was just diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. But there are ways for family caregivers to find happiness in their caregiving journey.”
Lean Into Meaningful Relationships
Forbes states that too often caregivers lose touch with many friends, co-workers, neighbors, and others. The isolation for both caregivers and older adults can affect a person’s health equivalent to smoking fifteen cigarettes a day. The article references studies that prove it is not the number of relationships one has that matter, it is the quality of the relationship that counts.
“Do not avoid or lose relationships that matter to you. Carve out time for those meaningful friendships.”
Find Your Tribe
Forbes quotes author Dan Buettner by saying humans are “genetically hardwired to cluster into groups of familiar people who share our values.” His signature phrase is to “find your tribe”.
“Rely on your tribe to help during caregiving situations. If you accept the concept that the tribe you have chosen — family, friends, faith — will have your back in troubling times, now is the time to ask them to share the care so you can get a much-needed break.”
A study is referenced in the article in which participants had higher life satisfaction levels when asked to visualize happy events for eight minutes a day. The feelings lasted up to four weeks after the research was conducted.
“Visualize places, people, memories that make you happy for a few minutes a day and feel the residual positive feelings for weeks.”
Go With The Flow -- Accomplish One Simple Thing A Day
Forbes defines the word flow as “finding your strengths and then using them to the best of your ability.” The article continues by giving the following advice, “Since caregivers often don’t have control over a loved one’s illness or disability, being able to find flow — putting your strengths as a caregiver to work — and to successfully fulfill other simple daily tasks, such as making your bed, can sometimes be enough to get you through the challenging times.”
Enjoy Hugs and Humor
The article states, “scientists have found hugs boost immunity to ward off colds, help calm anxiety and even have a neuroprotective factor to boost brain health.” It goes on to discuss how laughter relaxes muscles, decreases stress hormones and increases blood flow which can help with cardiovascular problems. The last tip the article gives to caregivers to find happiness is to “get eight hugs per day. Try to laugh between 15 times (average for adults) daily. Unplug from technology 20 minutes daily and immerse in a cozy environment.”
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