8 Happiness Hacks for Caregivers
1. Drink Coffee
Coffee not only boosts mental alertness, attention, and concentration, but is shown to stave off depression risk. For a happy hack for all, brew up a pot and pour out a cup for your loved one, as coffee is also tied to better brain health in seniors, including protecting against cognitive decline.
2. Go Outside
Rather than staying cooped up inside, go outside! Evidence supports even 20 minutes of the great outdoors improves mood and supplies sufficient vitamin D. In fact, a deficiency of the so-called “sunshine” vitamin has been linked to higher rates of depression, cognitive impairment, osteoporosis, cancer, and heart disease. And with seniors more susceptible vitamin D deficiency, taking them outside with you can deter risks and boost their happiness, too!
3. Hang Out with A Furry Friend
Did you know you could instantly become happier just by hanging out with a furry friend? Research has shown playing with dogs can increase the brain’s levels of the dopamine and serotonin, hormones associated to pleasure and tranquility. Oh, and not to mention, pets have been suggested to offer a healing power in elderly adults, helping to reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and increase both social interaction and physical activity. The companionship is also beneficial for your four-legged buddy!
While meditation is a significant happiness hack, it may seem like a challenge if new to the practice. However, caregivers can learn how to meditate with this beginner’s how-to guide and reap instantaneous benefits, including greater feelings of well-being and lower levels of stress and anxiety. Regular meditation can eventually rewire and restructure the brain to lower feelings of sadness and raise levels of happiness.
Exercise does much more than benefit the body physically, as it has a strong link to happiness and mental health overall. Exercise works to boost mood by increasing endorphins and other feel-good chemicals in the brain and reducing stress hormones, even proving to be a remedy for managing both depression and anxiety. Aim for 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity most days of the week and incorporate various forms of exercise, including cardio, strength training, and yoga. You can also increase physical activity throughout the day by biking to work, walking outside during your lunch break, and practicing yoga during commercial breaks. Also encourage your loved one to be active with you, as exercise has tremendous benefits throughout the entire lifespan, including preserving lean body mass, promoting cardio-respiratory health, boosting the immune system, supporting strong bones, encouraging bowel regularity, nurturing balance, and fostering brain function.
6. Grant Self-Care
No matter how you wish to allot your time, it is imperative that you use some of it for self-care to become happier. Care for your physical and mental health by preparing a nutritious dinner, signing up for a fun new workout class, and scheduling regular screenings and exams. Also pamper and treat yourself for all the hard work you provide day-in and day-out, including by scheduling a pedicure or massage, purchasing those new wireless headphones you have been eyeballing, or simply trying out that new restaurant with your friends or significant other.
7. Give Daily Gratitude
Giving daily gratitude is extremely effective in becoming happier in all facets of life, and can truly prime the brain for a happier day if completed first thing in the morning. So while drinking your morning coffee, take a few minutes to think and jot down what are you are grateful for and the feelings it provides, including the coffee you are currently sipping on, the family you wake up to each morning, the shelter baring protection and warm, and the food that nourishes the body day-in and day-out. Nonetheless, gratitude helps us remember our blessings and priorities and encourages us to focus on the fortunes and that truly matter beyond monetary value.
Sufficient sleep can be key in ongoing happiness and research even proves so. According to the American Psychology Association, more sleep would make us happier, healthier, and safer, with too little shut-eye increasing the risks of chronic health conditions. People who chronically fail to get enough sleep may also be be cutting precious years off their their lives. Sleep to happiness (and health and safety) by aiming for seven to nine hours of sleep each night, along with straying away from caffeine and naps in the afternoon and naps, limiting fluids before bedtime, and turn off the television, phone, and other electronics an hour before bedtime improved shut-eye.