For many families, the holidays are a special time for families to gather and share traditions and joy. In the life of a caregiver however, the holidays can be an entirely different experience. Coping with the stress of everyday caregiving responsibilities is one thing and considering the added stress of COVID-19 on our holiday season, it can be difficult to get into the real spirit of joy and gratitude.
The Caregiver Coalition of Northeast Florida recently held a Virtual Caregiver Workshop that explored ways to find joy in caregiving during the holidays. If you haven’t watched it yet, check it out here.
It’s not happiness that brings us gratitude. It’s gratitude that brings us happiness. -Anonymous
How can we find gratitude during the pandemic? Here’s a few things to think about as we navigate a difficult holiday season:
Practice mindfulness throughout the day. Try to slow down and notice your thoughts, feelings, and surroundings. Sometimes we’re in a rush that we miss something that might bring us joy. Does the coffee smell extra good this morning? Can you feel the autumn breeze when you open the front door? Did you find a few minutes to pray or meditate quietly by yourself?
Start a gratitude journal. Studies in positive psychology have shown that practicing gratitude on a regular basis can people cope with stress and improve relationships with those close to them. At the beginning or the end of every day, try writing down three to five things you’re grateful for. Don’t worry about being too general or too specific, just remember to be genuine.
Practice a little more patience with yourself than usual. You may be experiencing grief; you may be experiencing isolation or struggling financially. Remember to take care of yourself mentally and emotionally and reach out for support when you need it. Many support groups have gone virtual and offer support through the holidays.
Find ways to stay connected with loved ones, even if it’s not at the dinner table. Share your gratitude in handwritten thank you cards or share your favorite memories over a phone call or video chat. This might be the year to print out your favorite pictures and put them into a scrapbook to share with family or create a video slideshow and share it through social media or email.
Gratitude is a practice, meaning that at first, it may feel silly or you might struggle to find joy in the stress of everyday life. Even on a bad day, you deserve as much gratitude for your own perseverance and strength as you do the people and things around you.