Happiness Hacks for Caregivers
Simple Steps to Being Happier Even Under Stress
Happiness is the purpose of life. Despite this, only one in three Americans says they’re very happy.
Why is happiness so difficult to achieve? For many caregivers, the answer seems obvious. Demands of caring for another, physical fatigue, emotional exhaustion, isolation and the general stress of balancing caregiving responsibilities
A big misconception about happiness is the ‘pursuit of happiness’. If you think of happiness as an object to “find,” you may be looking at the situation all wrong. According to science, happiness isn’t something you find–it’s something you make.
Creating more happiness in your chaotic caregiving life doesn’t have to be labor-intensive or time-consuming. Try these simple tactics to making more happiness in your life right now.
Happiness is as simple as gratitude. Research has found several benefits people receive who practice gratitude routinely.
Gratitude is strongly and regularly associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity and foster better relationships.
Gratitude is the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives.
It is important to be grateful for what you already have. After a stressful day, it’s easy to dwell on all that went wrong. Instead, focus on everything that went right.
An easy way to be more grateful is by keeping a gratitude journal.
We understand caregivers use technology to better care for patients (like medication management or keeping emergency contact information); but if it’s not job-related, put the device down!
It is common for a caregiver to have irregular work hours and be on an opposite schedule from their peers. Living vicariously through social media or on your phone will only leave you with a severe case of FOMO (fear of missing out).
“It’s likely that people spending more time on devices have less frequent contact with live social networks, and may be more vulnerable to social comparison that leaves them with a sense of emptiness,” says Ramani Durvasula, PhD, licensed clinical psychologist and professor of psychology at California State University in Los Angeles. “And anxiety may be due to the ‘I don’t want to miss out on anything’ effect – seeing everyone else’s social calendar makes it difficult to stay present in their own lives.”
Surprisingly, it has been shown (by a Harvard study) that spending money on others boosts happiness more than buying things for ourselves.
Philanthropy and giving to charitable causes have been linked to increased happiness.
Indeed, helping others does not require spending money. You can also donate your time. Volunteering is rewarding in terms of higher life satisfaction. Helping others and volunteering can help you reduce stress, combat depression, keep you mentally stimulated, and provide a sense of purpose.
Get more Exercise
Time and time again, studies have found the positive impact exercise has on people. A book “The Happiness Advantage” reported exercise having the biggest effect in reducing depression.
All evidence suggests the importance of exercise on our happiness level.
I know personally, I rarely regret exercising. I remind myself of this every time I want to skip the gym. So what are you waiting for? Exercise = happier life!
Shawn Achor, who has lectured at Harvard University and Wharton School of Business, wrote in his book: ”The Happiness Advantage”, that spending as little as 20 minutes outside in a good weather not only boosts your mood but also broadens thinking and improves the working memory.
In Japan, people are encouraged to spend more time in nature because science supports a direct correlation between nature appreciation and increased well-being.
Unfortunately, many elder care activities take place indoors. Lack of exposure to the outdoors can surely decrease happiness levels. It’s important to make a conscious effort to breathe in fresh air and soak up some natural sunlight.
These happiness hacks aren’t labor-intensive or time-consuming but do require effort and you to make slight modifications to your lifestyle.
It takes energy, diligence, and generosity to be unfailingly lighthearted.
We can’t always control other people or the inevitable; nevertheless, we have the power to control our own habits and reactions. We hope you use this information to lead a happier and more fulfilling life.
Dr. Kay got her medical education in Brazil.
Dr. Kay also has a master degree in Film and Television from UCLA and has been an adviser for medical television shows.
Dr. Kay is very active in the Health Industry. She is a member of the American Board of Home Care, the National Association of Home Care, CAHSAH, California Association of Health Services at Home. She co-chairs the education committee for the Down with Falls Coalition. Dr. Kay is in the speaker’s bureau for the coalition helping educate health care professionals and the community on fall risks, diabetes, adverse drug reaction, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, dehydration and nutrition, etc…. for older adults.
Dr. Kay was nominated by the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) as the Remarkable Woman of 2008.
Dr. Kay is actively involved in many philanthropy and non-profit organizationssuch as the American Cancer Society, Susan G. Komen, the Philharmonic Society, Women Helping Women, Youth Employment Services, E-Women, Women Sage, Plasticos Foundation, CIELO and others.
Dr. Kay’s passion is to assist seniors to live long and thrive in the comfort of their own home.
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