On average, family caregivers devote more than 20 hours per week taking care of their elderly relatives. Many family caregivers do so without the support of other family members, home care aides and community senior services. While taking responsibility for an aging mom or dad brings many rewards, family caregivers also deal with high emotional and physical stress. Caregivers can also experience poor physical and mental health as a result of their duties. Experts agree that family caregivers need to do everything they can to reduce stress and find balance in their lives. A gratitude journal can help.
What is a Gratitude Journal?
Expressing gratitude seems easy but it can be difficult to do on a regular basis. With hectic schedules and busy lives, taking the time to meditate and reflect on the best things in life often gets pushed to the side. A gratitude journal is a place where people can pause to reflect on positive thoughts and chronicle joyous events in their lives.
The idea is to take a few minutes at the close of each day, every other day or once a week and think about things to be grateful for. Sometimes there will be plenty to write about while other times the family caregiver may struggle. All they need is a notebook, a pen and a quiet place to think and write without interruption.
How Does a Gratitude Journal Help?
Research shows that there are physical and mental health benefits for people who write in a journal or diary. It gives them an outlet to create, examine and manage various parts of their lives. Family caregivers can really benefit from some quiet time that allows them to stop and notice all the positive things in their lives, including their elderly parent, home care aides, senior service workers and others.
Documenting positive events, people and thoughts can help family caregivers see beyond the negative things going on. Focusing on what is meaningful and joyful will bring good thoughts to the front of the mind and push negative ones away. Eventually, a family caregiver’s mind will look for the good things taking place throughout a day or week resulting in a more positive outlook overall. Studies show that grateful people also have higher self-esteem, better relationships, lower materialistic desires and more empathetic. The physical benefits of keeping a gratitude journal and living a more positive life include lower blood pressure, less stress-related physical symptoms, a better night’s sleep, and boosts the immune system.
The bottom line is that family caregivers, like many other adults who are stressed and busy, can really benefit from keeping a gratitude journal. Chronicling the best parts of the week help transform the mundane into the joyful, making people happier versions of themselves. They gain a more positive outlook on life and appreciate others more, including their aging mom or dad. While the work and worry won’t go away, the family caregivers are better able to handle whatever comes along and face things with improved mental strength. All it takes is some time to write down a few lines of what they are thankful for in a gratitude journal.
IF YOU OR AN AGING LOVED ONE ARE CONSIDERING HOMECARE IN CORNELIUS, NC, PLEASE CONTACT THE CARING STAFF AT GOLDEN HEART SENIOR CARE OF CHARLOTTE. (704) 246-5806.