Positive thinking to power your care giving

Optimism is more than just seeing a glass as half full rather than half empty. It is a perspective grounded in critical thinking and problem solving. Negative emotions stem from survival instincts, but positive thoughts can help shed new perspectives on challenges that you might not have otherwise thought of. For caregivers, this can be a great way not only to improve the level of care you provide, but also increase your happiness.  

It's good for you

Positive thinking is good for your mind and body. Researchers have shown that it reduces levels of stress, which we all know can lead to health problems. Well, positive thinking can also help improve resilience, which is essentially how well we deal with problems. “When dealing with a challenge, optimists typically look at what they can do to fix the problem,” says author Kendra Cherry. She goes on to explain that “in the wake of a crisis, such as a terrorist attack or natural disaster, positive thoughts and emotions encourage thriving and provide a sort of buffer against depression among resilient people.”  

Here's how

It can also boost your immunity. Ever heard mind over matter? Here’s where it becomes a reality. Research has actually shown that when people are thinking positively about their lives, they show a greater immune response. Here’s how positive thinking works. It allows your mind to be open to options other than those that are right in front of you. A study led by Barbara Frederickson of the University of North Carolina, tested how well participants would respond to a writing prompt after being directed to think about negative emotions, positive emotions, or none at all. The results showed that thinking about positive emotions not only did better than the negative, but better than the neutral, too. Fredrickson also explains that experiencing positive emotions during activities like play open up possibilities in your mind that allow you to build new skills.  

Give it a try

So how do we add more positive thoughts? You’re either an optimist or a pessimist, right? Not exactly. Anyone can reduce negativity in their mind and replace it with positivity just by being mindful. First, identify patterns of negative thinking. One example is if you find yourself excluding all the positive things that happened in the day. Another example is taking things personally when they aren’t directed at you. Perhaps you take small setbacks as a sign for more trouble, or you think things will only be good or bad. Next, look for chances to infuse positive thinking into your daily life. You can start small with things you can control in your life. Take time throughout the day to check your disposition. Did you get unnecessarily upset over a bad email? Look for humor in your life and practice positive self-talk. Here’s a great video from the Alzheimer’s Care Resource Center about incorporating optimism into your life. 

Go ahead and give positive thinking a try. Perhaps it will help you be a better, happier caregiver this year.

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