Happiness means different things to different people. It’s so elusive, you can go into a bookshop and pick up a range of titles on the subject and still feel none the wiser once you’ve finished reading.
When you’re caring for someone, life can feel very much like it’s on hold and that can be daunting.
But as much as you feel you’ve lost your goals or even just time to be yourself without your caring responsibilities, there are things you can do to lift your mood and nurture your long-term happiness to recover your sense of self.
Try out a morning/evening routine
Find out when your little pockets of uninterrupted day are and consider creating a structured routine around this time.
A lot of people swear by a morning routine, but if you’ve been up in the night caring for someone, then this might not be practical as your body needs to sleep too. An evening may work just as well for you.
Whatever the time, your routine can be customised, so if you have an hour, why not break it down into 10-minute segments of activities you believe are essential for you feeling your best? This could be singing, reading or writing out affirmations.
This can be ten minutes of exercise on a YouTube channel, a DVD or dancing to playlist on Spotify. Exercise gets the oxygen pumping around your body. It releases feel-good hormones and can give you a natural high before you have to face the day. Alternatively, if you are able, find opportunities to go for a run or a swim to empty your mind of worries.
Enjoy quiet time throughout the day
Spending time to be still is proven to be beneficial for stress and nervousness. If you sit still in contemplation or meditation for just ten minutes, you will feel calmer and more relaxed instead of frazzled when you come to perform your caring duties. Some people love guided meditations, others like to be alone with their thoughts. However you decide to pursue it, there are a wealth of mobile phone apps that can help you out.
Create a cosy environment for yourself
Whether it’s your favourite armchair or spot on the sofa wrapped in your best blanket with a hot water bottle, or even a sunlounger in a hidden corner of the garden, ensure your environment is conducive to a sense of goodness. Having a special area for your own quality time means you can focus and you’re not just squeezing it into a time between other responsibilities.
If you can’t do your me-time routine one day don’t feel bad
Sometimes, you just need to rest, so give yourself permission to relax. Don’t treat your me-time as another chore to tick off your to-do list.
Share your dreams and ambitions
If your ultimate goal is to travel one day, why not share this dream with the person you are caring for? You could revisit yours and their adventures as part of a reminiscence activity.
If you plan to build an art-based business, use some of your arty know-how to engage with the person you’re caring for by making memory books or paper flowers.
Not only are you getting to do what you love, but your loved one is enjoying his or herself and you are both nurturing a positive relationship.
Read an enjoyable book
Find a book you love and immerse yourself in it. Choose something that makes you feel happy and you can read easily. Look for a story that nourishes you and leaves you feeling as though you’ve been on an adventure. Don’t force yourself to read a classic if you’re going to lose focus and feel like a failure. Another idea is to pick a book that gives you a good laugh.
Plan something to look forward to
People become sad and despondent when every day follows a routine you don’t get to have a break from. To counter this, always have a holiday or a mini-break on the horizon so you know that something good is around the corner.
If you can’t afford a break at this time, then fill your calendar with exciting events that are taking place, such as a wedding in the family, a birthday party, a concert or a festival. Plan a night out, go visit a friend or book an afternoon tea.
Journalling and practising gratitude
These two activities can be combined and are ways to help you reflect on all the memories and good things in your life.
Gratitude has been shown to increase happiness and can make you feel more optimistic. Journalling allows you to record the stories you’ll want to look back on and tells your brain your life is worth reading about.
Find a community
Whether it’s an online forum or a support group, discover ways to connect with people who are going through the same situation. Loneliness is a contributor to unhappiness in all aspects of life, so make sure you have people to talk to who can empathise.
Join the best community there is for those living with dementia and their families for advice and practical support – Give us a call today.