August 31, 2020

These are unusual, unpredictable, and trying times — and if you’re feeling stressed or anxious, know that you’re not alone. With so much going on in the world, it’s only natural to feel scared, or to find yourself dealing with a lot of negative thoughts. 

With all of the challenges caused by COVID-19, finding ways to refocus and stay positive can help you keep moving forward and make the most of every day — especially for seniors and family caregivers. 

Staying Positive During Troubling Times

As faith and mindfulness expert Greg Wilcox recently explained for Sanford Health

“There is a lot going on, and there are incredible changes. That kind of fear is what most of us feel.”

Wilcox encourages all of us to “have an attitude that looks for the positive and tries to be optimistic.” This can help to “filter out some of the constant barrage of bad or discouraging news.”

“Holding onto that positive attitude can help you center on things that provide you with what you need to make it through this day,” he contintinues. “It’s really important these days.”

We know how tough this moment can be for seniors and busy family caregivers. Daily life has been interrupted. Many people are feeling isolated and lonely. There is a lot of uncertainty and bad news going around, and this can lead to high levels of stress. “Compassion fatigue” is very real — and it can cause exhaustion, burnout, anxiety, and depression. 

At the same time, we know the power of positive thinking! Finding and appreciating the good things in life can go a long way, especially in a difficult moment. As the CDC puts it: 

“Coping with stress in a healthy way will make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger.”

Here are 10 simple, powerful ways for caregivers and seniors to find a little bit of light and positivity, even in difficult times: 

1.) Take care of your body

Our mental health and physical health are intimately connected. Taking care of your body is a key part of protecting your overall well-being. Give your body a break and the good fuel it needs every day, and you may be surprised by how much your thinking and behavior will change for the better! The CDC recommends taking simple actions such as taking deep breaths, stretching, or meditating; trying to eat “healthy, well-balanced meals;” making time to exercise regularly; getting plenty of sleep; and avoiding excessive alcohol and drug use. 

2.) Look for laughs and humor

Go ahead and guffaw, but a little bit of laughter can do you a whole lot of good. Taking time to laugh can have some seriously positive effects. In fact, it’s a proven stress reliever, and may also help you to sleep better and give your immune system a boost in the long-term. So, the next time you’re feeling down, put on a funny movie; swap jokes with your loved ones; dig into your old comedy albums; or go ahead and tell the funniest stories you’ve got. It’s what the doctor ordered. 

3.) Unwind with a relaxing new hobby

When you find yourself overwhelmed or weighed down by negativity, give yourself a break! Health and wellness experts often encourage family caregivers facing burnout to unwind with a hobby that has nothing to do with caregiving — and the same goes for anyone feeling burdened by bad news or COVID-related stress. Go for a walk in the woods; play a musical instrument; get crafty; write your novel; cook an extravagant dinner — whatever it takes to rest, recharge, and give yourself some time to decompress. 

4.) Reach out to a friend or family member — even remotely!

Staying social is a proven way to help older adults enjoy a more positive outlook, greater longevity, and a higher quality of life overall. While the social distancing requirements associated with COVID-19 are important to follow, there are all still lots of ways to keep in touch with friends and family and experience the positive, rejuvenating benefits of spending time with the people closest to you! From handwriting a letter, to getting in touch over Skype or Zoom, to making time for a weekly phone call, check out our list of creative ways to keep in touch while keeping your distance. 

5.) Give yourself permission to step away from the news

As lifestyle coach Golareh Safarian writes for Thrive Global, “staying informed and aware of what is happening locally and globally are important.” At the same time, though, “creating a healthy balance between news consumption and our daily routines is also crucial in helping us maintain a sense of normalcy and control over our mental health.” Don’t hesitate to turn off the news or step away from social media when you need a break. As the BBC puts it: 

“Keeping your phone out of your bedroom, or self-imposing screen-free time, can help you to balance the negativity with the benefits social media brings.”

6.) Find little ways to practice gratitude

A little bit of gratitude can go a long way. When you find yourself dwelling on negative things, try to reframe your thinking and refocus on the things you’re grateful for. This could include big things like your health, your home, or your family, or very small things, such as the comfort of your favorite chair, the first sip from a mug of tea, or the view from your bedroom window. Try to take time to remember and savor the things you appreciate. For example, you could write down a list at the end of each day, or share moments of gratefulness around the dinner table each evening. 

7.) Give back, however you can

Helping others isn’t just good for the community; it’s good for you. Countless studies have shown that taking time to give back and volunteer can positively impact your thinking and offer you a sense of purpose. Look for ways that you can make a difference right now, while factoring in your health and lifestyle. Can you donate old books or furniture to a worthy cause? Provide canned goods for a food drive? Volunteer virtually by phone or through a computer? Check in on a neighbor who may need some help? There’s no wrong way to start giving back! 

8.) Appreciate the little things

As writer William Park puts it for the BBC, it may help “to spend less time trying to become happy, and focus more on the little things that make us happy.” Be mindful of all the little things that give you pleasure and joy throughout the day. What did you achieve? How did you express kindness? What are the inspiring or positive news stories you’ve read? As Wilcox explains for Sanford Health: “take time to smell the flowers.”

“Whether it’s looking out at a field and noticing the trees beginning to bud, or if it is simply a pet that you have — a dog or a cat that you love spending time with — that can really fill you up and give you a hopeful sense about the day.”

9.) Get clean and organized

Many people find peace and serenity by working from the outside in. Living in a clean and organized space can help lower your stress levels, and prompts many people to start making healthier choices overall. In addition to decluttering, cleaning up, and getting rid of safety hazards, think about adding little flourishes that will help you relax and unwind. Fresh scents and creature comforts, however small, can make a difference, from fluffy towels to your favorite essential oils.

10.) Take a trip or experience something new

Feeling tired of your routine? Making little changes can help you appreciate things, and make the most of the day. For example, taking a safe, socially distanced trip — such as going for a walk or drive in the country — can help you relax and recharge as you enjoy some new scenery. Look for day trips and opportunities to enjoy nature near you. Even during COVID, there are lots of safe and enjoyable options here in Chicagoland!

Companions for Seniors Is Here for You

Whether you’re looking for in-home care services or simply guidance on how to adapt to our changing situation, we’re always here and ready to help, in whatever way we can. Don’t hesitate to get in touch whenever you want to discuss the best plan of action for yourself and your elderly family.

At Companions for Seniors, our mission is to help seniors live independently and with dignity in the comfort of their own home by empowering them to lead an active and enriched lifestyle, connecting them with their community, and nurturing meaningful relationships.

Our companions are trained and bonded, and can help provide a variety of services designed to help seniors remain in the comfort of their own homes, including providing assistance with housekeeping, activities of daily living (ADLs), driving services, and more. We are available to continue providing service during COVID-19, while following strict health and safety protocols — including practicing proper handwashing; sanitizing our vehicles; wearing masks and gloves; and always having back-up caregivers ready to step in, in case a companion displays any signs of an illness. 

Want to keep the conversation going? Get in touch online using our handy online portal, or give us a call at 866-910-9020 today.