By Carol Combs, MSW, Oxford’s Memory Care Program Coordinator

Dealing with a chronic illness or being a full time caregiver is stressful and exhausting, but it is also a time you can be grateful.

My mother always said, “God won’t give you more than you can handle.”

I remember times in my life when I thought He was really pushing my limits!

You can’t hide, ignore or bury the challenges you face, but gratitude can help put things in perspective. Gratitude reduces stress, improves your mood, strengthens relationships, and in general, makes us happier. Gratitude helps us realize what we have. It doesn’t come naturally, but is a chosen attitude through life’s challenges.

So, how do you have gratitude? Try these tips:

  1. Recognize you aren’t alone: Everyone deals with difficult situations. Put things in perspective by reminding yourself, “Well, we could be dealing with ______.” Or, “At least we have _______.”
  1. Focus on the positives: Acknowledge the hurt, loss, exhaustion or difficulties, but take a moment to focus on one good thing about today or something you appreciate about someone.
  2. Keep a journal: Every day, write down one or two things you are grateful for and why. Writing out your feelings can help relieve anxiety and stress.
  3. Ask yourself: “What can I learn from this; and, when I look back on this without emotion, what will I be grateful for?”
  4. Count your blessings: Focus on something good in your life, even if it’s only for a few minutes each day.

It takes effort to reframe your view of life, especially when experiencing stress and exhaustion. Gratitude can help your outlook, but it doesn’t eliminate the need for emotional support, education and practical hands on help. Seek out the help you need and accept it when offered.

Oxford offers a wide variety of supportive services and care in the home. If you would like to explore options for care, please contact one of our Care Coordinators.

Source: Elizabeth Heerema, MSW, newsletter