When you are in the throes of your caregiving journey and stress is at an all-time high, it can feel impossible to express or feel gratitude. A lack of sleep, nourishing food, and self-care can wreak havoc on your nervous system. You might feel like there’s a dark cloud hanging over your days that’s hard to get out from.
When someone close to your heart is struggling, it can feel very uncomfortable to give yourself permission to feel gratitude. You might think, “How can I be happy when this person I care about so much is not?” Although it’s challenging, being able to tap in to gratitude, even if it is for the smallest joys in your days, is crucial if to maintaining a sense of well-being. Gratitude allows you to be present in whatever moment you’re in. It can give you strength, and even hope.
Remember that you do not have to have a complicated gratitude practice, and that you do not have to be grateful for everything. Life is not perfect, and bad things do happen. It’s okay to be upset about them and to know that you can safely express those feelings. Feeling and expressing gratitude is not about trampling out the not so great emotions, it’s about bringing your attention to the good things that may not be so apparent when you’re struggling.
If you’re struggling to feel gratitude, start with the smallest thing possible that made even the slightest difference to your day. Here are a few ideas:
a warm mug of coffee or tea first thing in the morning
a glass of cool water when you’re on a hot day
stepping in to a hot shower
the person who held the door for you and your loved one the other day
putting on pyjamas when they’ve just come out of the dryer
They are just small things, but when you start to pay attention to their occurrences, they become powerful.
Try writing down three things you’re grateful for in the morning, and three things at night before going to sleep. Continue this practice for just one week, and see what sort of difference it makes in your mood.
Please remember that if you’re continuing to struggle and feel like you can’t pull yourself out, reach out to a professional for help. The caregiving journey can be a hard one, and support can make all the difference.
Cassandra Van Dyck