For most of us, aging comes with increased health issues, thoughts of our own mortality and sometimes watching the ones we love—friends and family—pass away. It becomes very easy to fall into depression and depression can lead to a variety of physical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems and diabetes. That’s where the power of positive thinking comes in. Positive thoughts condition our brain to think positively and our body follows the command of our brain.
For older seniors a caregiver plays an important role in maintaining positive thoughts and healthy aging. Caregivers are trained to watch for warning signs of depression like loss of interest in daily activities and restlessness. With careful observation, caregivers can help to stave off depression by offering companionship and promoting fun, happy, activities like gardening and dancing or offering transportation to social events and church.
Here are some tips to maintain a positive frame of mind—for both caregivers and their charges:
- Cultivate enthusiasm. Do your best to be happy and not to indulge in negative thoughts. The glass can be half full or half empty—it’s always the same glass.
- Keep a sense of humor. Perhaps more than any other strategy, finding something to laugh about is an effective buffer for the difficulties we face in life.
- Show gratitude. Everyday find something to be grateful for. The shoes on your feet. The food on your plate. The flowers in your garden.
- Be compassionate. Put yourself in other people’s shoes. Understanding leads to acceptance.
- Be flexible. Understanding that things are not always going to go the way you would like and being comfortable changing course is a life skill worth practicing.
- Have faith. Whether it be a belief in a force beyond yourself or the belief in the best possible outcome for a situation, maintaining faith in things beyond your control is crucial to a positive outlook.
- Dream. Engage in “imagineering.” Set a goal. Aim high.
- Learn from mistakes. If we approach life as an opportunity to learn and grow, even negative experiences provide a positive take-away.
- Take joy in helping others. Helping others and touching lives can be a huge source of satisfaction in our lives. Knowing that you’ve made a difference in someone’s life can bring nothing but positive thoughts.
- Cultivate acceptance. Work to accept adversity and disappointments—they are an inevitable part of our journey. If you can overcome and accept what you cannot change you will emerge the stronger for it.
- Think “love” first. Develop a loving and forgiving attitude to everyone around you. It will come back to you ten-fold.