The Thanksgiving season is a wonderful and much-needed opportunity to reflect on all the wonderful things you’ve experienced over the past year. This year, we are also reminded of the incredible importance of practicing gratitude.
Gratitude is about giving thanks for the good things in your life, large and small. It is both a practice and a way of looking at the world — and studies have shown that regularly taking time to reflect and share your gratitude can offer some remarkable health benefits.
What Is Gratitude?
- Affirming the good things we’ve received
- Acknowledging the role other people play in “providing our lives with goodness”
For seniors and family caregivers, there’s no denying that life can be full of unique challenges. Taking some time to focus on the positive and be thankful can offer a refreshing and invigorating new perspective, especially in this difficult and unpredictable year.
Whether it’s your health, your family, your home, or the time you get to spend with others, there is always something to be grateful for.
As writer Anthony Cirillo notes for U.S. News & World Report, gratitude is particularly important for seniors and caregivers. For seniors, gratitude is all about taking time to “appreciate the here and now of our life’s purpose and the responsibilities of each day.” Among family caregivers, “most come to realize the opportunity they have of caring for a loved one,” Cirillo writes.
“Sometimes it takes a while to move from burden to opportunity, but most do, and they remember the time fondly and with gratitude when the caregiving journey is over.”
The Health and Lifestyle Benefits of Gratitude
The more you practice gratitude each day, the better off you’ll be. Practicing gratitude has been shown to have a profound impact on your overall physical and psychological health. A growing body of research suggests that practicing gratitude may….
- Help you strengthen your personal relationships, and develop new connections.
- Promote greater empathy, patience, and humility.
- Boost your immune system.
- Relieve stress and help you to adapt to changes more easily.
- Increase feelings of happiness and lessen the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
- Improve your sleep habits.
- Boost your self-esteem and personal satisfaction.
- Reduce the likelihood of suffering from burnout.
How Seniors and Caregivers Can Practice Gratitude
“Gratitude doesn’t have to be saved for the ‘big’ things in life. The habit of being grateful starts with appreciating every good thing in life and recognizing that there is nothing too small for you to be thankful for.”
Looking for ways to be more active about feeling and expressing your gratitude as we head for the holidays, or all year round? Here are a few tried-and-true ways to fold thankfulness and gratitude into your everyday life:
Keep a gratitude journal.
At the end of each day, take a few minutes to reflect on what happened that day that you feel grateful for. Jot down a few quick notes, or write about how this experience or event made you feel. Take note of whatever moves you; it could be as small as a day with less arthritis pain, or as big as the opportunity to see a family member who lives a long distance away from you. As Mindful puts it, the more time you are able to spend “recalling moments of gratitude associated with ordinary events, your personal attributes, or valued people in your life,” the easier it is to “interweave a sustainable theme of gratefulness into your life.”
Practice the “three things” routine.
Even if you don’t write anything down, consider taking time each day to think of three good things that you’re grateful for. Take time to really savor the feelings of thankfulness and joy that these memories bring.
Be mindful of the things that bring you joy.
The legendary writer Marcel Proust once said that “the real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” Practicing gratitude each day could be as simple as slowing down and appreciating all the little things — the weight of a favorite blanket, a cool breeze, the warmth of the sun, the sound of a loved one’s voice on the phone, the sight of fall leaves outside your window. Lean into your five senses, and all of the unique and wonderful experiences that they bring. This is a form of meditation that can help you rediscover your joy for everyday things — and bring you comfort, peace, and clarity in difficult moments.
Give back, however you can.
One of the greatest ways to show your gratitude is to give back. This could mean donating to your favorite charity, or volunteering with a local community organization. Do things that give you a sense of purpose, and which allow you to connect with others.
Say thank you every day.
It’s the little things. As Mindful puts it, sometimes “going through the motions” — such as smiling or saying “thank you” to others — helps train our bodies and minds to be more receptive to feelings of gratitude. Don’t be shy about showing your appreciation!
Share messages of thanks with your friends and loved ones.
When you can’t say “thank you” in person, consider writing letters or creating care packages for the most important people in your life. Taking time to write about how you feel can be an enriching and fulfilling experience — and getting a letter, a card, or an unexpected token of remembrance is sure to brighten the day of your friends and loved ones.
Looking to Make the Most of Each Day? Here’s How Companions for Seniors Can Help
Whether you’re looking for an extra hand for Thanksgiving or a compassionate and active caregiver who can help the elderly adult in your life enjoy their time at home all year long, we are here and ready to help.
At Companions for Seniors, we believe in empowering seniors to lead an active and enriched lifestyle, connecting them with their community, and nurturing meaningful relationships. In addition to assisting with housekeeping, driving, and activities of daily living, our companions focus on building relationships, fostering an open dialogue, celebrating ideas, and always going the extra mile for their clients.
Our companions are passionate about caregiving, and truly find fulfillment, gratitude, and joy in working with others. Many of our companions come to us because they have prior experience caring for a loved one, which gave them the drive to be of service to others who need help.
If you live in the Chicagoland area and have a loved one who might benefit from some additional care and attention, we’d be happy to answer any questions and point you in the right direction. Get in touch online today, or give us a call at 866-910-9020 wherever you’re ready to get started!