Hope and caregiving – not two words that we normally associate with each other. Yet without hope the prospect of caregiving can feel overwhelming.
Hope at its basic level allows all of us to move forward in the world and our lives. We look forward to doing things – a walk outside, meeting a friend for lunch, or a family wedding. Hope comes in all sizes and shapes, but it essentially boils down to looking for the joy in life.
That’s how I find my positivity. When it’s cold and I’m shoveling, I can’t wait for a sunny summer day . It’s also how I get my motivation to keep moving forward.
Being optimistic isn’t about denying your true feelings and walking around with a smile on your face. According to Rick Hanson, PhD, caregiver and author of Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom, being optimistic means that you see the world accurately, taking in both the good and the bad.
Dr. Hanson offers three simple tips that can help inspire caregivers who want to become more optimistic:
Reassert control over your life; It’s easy to feel frustrated and out of control, but you can always change your thoughts. Find a small part of your life that you have power over and make a change to improve it.
Practice mindfulness; Thinking happy thoughts doesn’t do it for me, but the advice to find something positive to focus on and appreciate it for ten seconds does. Over time it can retrain your brain to focus on the positivity of the moment and help force the negativity out.
Build a support system; One way to expand our support system that a lot of us don’t think about is to include animals and children. Broadening our concept of social interaction to include them can lead to laughter and a dose of perspective. Social interactions in the form of online support groups can also make a big difference. Remember we’re here to help. Visit and join Breathing Spaces private online support group.
It’s true that focusing on a beautiful sunset won’t magically change your attitude or your caregiving situation. However, it can be a tiny step toward improving your outlook and fortifying your mental resolve.
When caregiving, hope is more than the flickering glow of votive candles. Hope is an important element to living but only if there is some level of belief attached to it. Not necessarily that your loved one will get better or even change the realities of their physical state, but to believe that they can engage and live with you in the moment. That is the value of hope in caregiving.
In thanks to our Guest Blogger; Donna MacLean